Biden wants to fight the climate crisis and keep gas prices low. It doesn't add up.

Biden wants to fight the climate crisis and keep gas prices low. It doesn't add up.
President Joe Biden. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
  • On Monday, the United Nations released a report detailing the "irreversible" effects of climate change.
  • Two days later, Biden called for an increase in oil production to help the US economic recovery.
  • It shows the difficult spot the world economy is in as it largely fails to move beyond fossil fuels.

The United Nations on Monday released a harrowing report saying some of global warming's effects will be "irreversible for centuries to millennia."

Two days later, President Joe Biden called for an increase in the production of fossil fuels to help with the economic recovery.

During a Wednesday speech at the White House, Biden mentioned how gas prices are still high even as oil prices have been on the decline, and he called on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which manages oil supply for 13 countries, to reverse cuts on production made during the pandemic to lower prices for consumers.

"Recently we've seen the price that oil companies pay for a barrel of oil begin to fall, but the cost of gasoline at the pump for more American people hasn't fallen," Biden said during his speech. "That's not what you'd expect in a competitive market."

This came after Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan criticized OPEC's insufficient oil production earlier in the day, saying in a statement that the production levels are "simply not enough."


The economic recovery is tied to heavier use of fossil fuels, according to government data released Tuesday. Carbon emissions are rising 7% this year - the biggest increase since at least 1990 - and coal's share in powering the country will increase by 3% to help the economy recover as gas prices rise. It shows how Biden is stuck between his promises and intentions on how to address the climate crisis and what he needs to do to help the current recovery.

Biden pledged during his campaign to reduce fossil fuel usage and combat the climate crisis, but his remarks on Wednesday contradicted those promises, given that petroleum is a major fossil fuel. Although his remarks were focused on economic recovery - a primary part of his agenda - addressing the climate crisis is falling a bit short thus far.

For example, although Biden's original infrastructure proposal had many climate-related measures, the agreement on infrastructure he eventually reached with a bipartisan group of senators, which passed the Senate on Monday, cut many of those out, leading Democrats to draft a separate reconciliation bill that included climate provisions that got cut from Biden's plan.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn criticized Biden's contradictory priorities in a statement, saying "if the President is suddenly worried about rising gas prices, he needs to stop killing our own energy production here on American soil."

Biden continues to tout his infrastructure plan as a win for the climate, and when asked about Biden's OPEC-related comments during a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: "We know that they have supply that's available that can be accessed, and that's what we're really referring to here."