“Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused these fires and record floods and record hurricanes, but if he gets a second term, these hellish events will continue to become more common, more devastating and more deadly,” Biden said, speaking from Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden’s comments come as historic wildfires that have killed at least 35 people, displaced thousands and burned millions of acres rage in the western part of the United States. Trump is in California and received a briefing Monday afternoon on the state’s wildfires.
Biden called Trump’s “climate denialism” and “disdain for science and facts all the more unconscionable.”
“It’s clear that we’re not safe in Donald Trump’s America,” Biden said.
At a campaign rally on Saturday in Nevada, Trump blamed the fires on “forest management,” despite scientists and local officials attributing the intensity of this season’s fires to the climate crisis.
Trump and top administration officials regularly deny the existence of human-caused climate change. While in the White House, Trump has rolled back federal regulations that were put in place to limit global warming and pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord.
Trump has over the years attacked California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, and other California politicians for the state’s response to fires and other environmental issues. Trump has received criticism for casting sole blame on the state’s forest management practices, since the federal government manages more than half of California’s forest land.
Biden said on Monday that he and his wife, Jill Biden, continue to pray for those affected by the wildfires.
The former vice president outlined his ambitious plan to combat the climate crisis, stressing the need to take immediate action while emphasizing the jobs that would be created.
“When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, he thinks hoax. When I think about it, I think jobs,” Biden said.
Biden has proposed a climate plan that involves spending $2 trillion over four years on clean energy projects and ending carbon emissions from power plants by 2035. His plan is part of a series of proposals aimed at jump-starting the US economy, which has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’ll be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century,” Biden said of his vision. “Not to mention the positive benefits to our health and our environment.”
He stressed the importance of electing a president who “respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here.”
“We have a choice. We can commit to doing this together because we know that climate change is the existential challenge that’s going to determine our future as a country, for our children, our grandchildren and great grandchildren, or we can do it Donald Trump’s way. We can ignore the facts, deny reality, which amounts to full surrender and a failure to lead,” Biden said.
Echoing his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Biden said Monday that the United States is facing one of the most difficult moments in the nation’s history, with “four historic crises all at the same time.”
“The worst pandemic in a hundred years, that’s already killed nearly 200,000 people and counting. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, that’s cost tens of millions of American jobs and counting. Emboldened white supremacy unseen since the ’60s and a reckoning on race that’s long overdue. And undeniable acceleration of the punishing reality of climate change on our planet, on our people, on the lives and livelihoods,” Biden said.
Biden said the interlocking of the crisis “requires action, not denial. Requires leadership, not scapegoating and requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office, to care, to care for everyone.”
The former vice president said, “If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze? If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?”
This story has been updated with additional comments from Biden on Monday.