× Biden Promised to Follow the Science. But Sometimes, He Gets Ahead of the Experts.
In his first visit to Iowa since announcing his second presidential run, Joe Biden joked to voters in Ankeny, Iowa, that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign “already announced” he was a rival.
The former vice president was only half joking.
Before a crowd of about 700 people, Biden said he had “no regrets” about his first run in 2008 and would have run again if “I’d been convinced I could do it.”
He said he put himself on the record for saying he would serve out the term in the White House if called to serve.
But Biden’s ties to Iowa — a state in which he once ran for Senate and has devoted years to the region as a congressman, and he holds a home on the western edge of the state — prompted his advisers to envision another race for the White House.
He told the crowd at the town hall that voters should “err on the side of life” in deciding whether to support a prospective candidate for president.
On the subject of climate change, which he’s emphasized for years, Biden offered a vocal endorsement for policies aimed at addressing the issue.
“I promise you, we are going to address it,” he said. “Climate change is the greatest threat to the future of humanity and planet Earth.”
Biden offered some weighty comments about the limits of a scientific consensus.
“Sixty-six percent of the people now have come out and say ‘yes,'” he said. “There is no crisis.”
“Look at your kids and grandkids,” he said. “It’s not tomorrow and it’s not even 2020.”
“If they don’t change, you don’t change,” he said. “Every month we don’t change, the oceans rise.”
Biden’s critics point to a climate march at the New York City airport he attended as evidence that he’s too eager to get ahead of scientists.
Still, President Donald Trump’s administration has been at odds with scientists on many issues.
During the 2012 presidential election, Vice President Joe Biden told the audience at a Minnesota event, “if our Nobel Prize-winning scientists tell us we need to worry about the Bible and not global warming, then we have an enemy that we need to be worried about.”
During Biden’s most recent presidential bid, Clinton surrogate Elizabeth Warren carried the day on the issue in Iowa.
Now in her re-election campaign for a full term in the Senate, Warren once again has drawn attention to global warming, using her book, “The Democratic Threat,” to advance her economic agenda and stand out against the president.
“We can all agree that we need to do more to protect our climate,” Warren wrote. “But there is only one group of people who know with absolute certainty what the effects of climate change will be: the scientists who have spent their lives studying it.”
In 2012, Obama tapped Biden to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s transition team during the second term. At the time, he vowed “to work hard to reduce carbon pollution from power plants” and “use the power of government to grow clean energy.”
He called for the Environmental Protection Agency to lead “a new era of American energy dominance.”
“Our government won’t just increase emissions, it will also reduce them,” Biden said.
Biden had pledged in 2007 to address climate change, and in his second term in office made the issue a theme of his national security speeches.
In 2013, the EPA took steps to limit carbon pollution, and in 2016, the agency finalized rules to reduce carbon emissions from new power plants and established the most aggressive standards yet for existing power plants.
Now, as Democratic leaders race to catch up to climate change on the national political stage, Biden has a head start.
But it remains to be seen how successfully he is able to position himself in the party’s debate.