Some environmental advocates have said that because we are barreling toward catastrophe, Biden should invoke emergency authority to address climate change. This step would be bold — quite possibly bolder than Biden is willing to be — and it would carry major rewards and risks.
Under emergency authority, a Biden administration could use military funding to quickly move the country away from coal and gas-powered plants and toward renewable energy. He could also increase the number of electric-vehicle charging stations, require automakers to produce more electric vehicles and accelerate the expansion of clean-energy technology — all without having to ask Congress to approve new funding. If this sounds familiar, it might be because Trump declared a national emergency on the border in 2019 in order to access billions of dollars for a border wall, which lawmakers had refused to give him. Questions over the legality of the declaration have been fought over in the courts ever since, an outcome that could also befall a similar move to address climate change.