Biden to launch 'American Climate Corps' following calls from activists, Democratic lawmakers

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

(WASHINGTON) -- President Joe Biden on Wednesday will launch the "American Climate Corps," according to the White House, which described it as "a workforce training and service initiative" for more than 20,000 Americans "that will ensure more young people have access to the skills-based training necessary for good-paying careers in the clean energy and climate resilience economy."

Biden had endorsed a similar idea of a "Civilian Climate Corps" while running for president in the 2020 election. But the initiative was ultimately left out of the pared down version of Biden's "Build Back Better" bill that became the Inflation Reduction Act.

Dozens of climate activists and Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly called on Biden to create a federally funded jobs program that would carry out climate and conservation projects. They have implored him to use his executive powers as president to establish the initiative on his own, which is what he's doing now.

Wednesday's announcement comes amid the annual Climate Week that coincides with the yearly United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

While Biden spoke about the importance of tackling climate change in his address to the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, he notably will not attend a gathering on Wednesday hosted by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres that will reportedly focus on new action countries are taking to fight climate change. U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry will attend in Biden's stead.

"The American Climate Corps, just in its first year of recruitment, will put to work a new, diverse generation of more than 20,000 Americans doing the important tasks of conserving and restoring our lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, deploying clean energy -- in many cases, distributed and community based -- implementing energy efficiency technologies that will cut consumer costs for the American people, and advancing environmental justice so long overdue in so many places," Biden's national climate adviser, Ali Zaidi, told reporters during a telephone call on Monday.

A major part of the initiative, according to Zaidi, will be teaming up with apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs across the country and pushing more Americans from diverse backgrounds into these programs -- ultimately resulting in well-paying jobs for them, thanks to funding from Biden's climate legislation.

Americans will be able to sign up online for the American Climate Corps, which the White House said will train young people in clean energy, conservation and climate resilience related skills. There will be a focus on climate justice, too, with an emphasis on helping underserved communities, according to the White House.

The Biden administration will coordinate recruitment for the American Climate Corps across the federal government and streamline pathways from the initiative and related programs into employment in the broader federal civil service, the White House said.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 9:01AM by Ben Gittleson and Morgan Winsor, ABC News Permalink