Environmental actions abound on Inauguration Day, from rejoining the Paris agreement to Bernie’s mittens

Environmental actions abound on Inauguration Day, from rejoining the Paris agreement to Bernie’s mittens

By Lucy Jones  January 22nd, 2021

"We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be."


After what has been a very dark era for American politics, yesterday's inauguration of the 46th president of the United States gave us so much to feel hopeful about.

We are walking around with an extra spring in our step today after Joe Biden showed a clear commitment to environmental action by moving to rejoin the Paris Agreement, putting a hold on oil and gas leasing and drilling permits and committing to a review of all actions Trump took to weaken climate change protections.

Other inauguration day highlights included 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman's moving recital of 'The Hill We Climb' and Bernie Sanders' upcycled wool mittens.

These gestures, small and large, were welcome reminders that the world is full of incredible people who are more than up to the task of saving our home planet. Please join us as we celebrate the positive environmental actions that were taken on this historic day.

Biden's first climate actions

Joe Biden is wasting no time in tackling the climate crisis. In his first few hours in the Oval Office, he set to work reversing Donald Trump's climate policy by taking executive actions to protect the environment.

"A cry for survival comes from the planet itself," Biden said in his inaugural address. "A cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear."

The first order of business was resigning the Paris Agreement. Biden set in motion the process of rejoining the international effort to limit global warming. The US will officially rejoin the deal on February 19, 107 days after it withdrew.

President Biden also revoked a construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and put a 60-day moratorium on oil and gas activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and at two national monuments in Utah — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante (pictured above). The Trump administration's plans to reduce the size of these protected areas will also be reviewed.

Alongside these executive orders, Biden launched a review of all environmental protections that were rolled back by Donald Trump. Gina McCarthy, climate adviser to the president, anticipates “more than 100” climate-related policies introduced by Trump will be reversed.

Amanda Gorman's poem

Young poet Amanda Gorman gave us the inspiration we need to face the challenges ahead of us with her beautiful recital of 'The Hill We Climb'. She is far better at words than us, so we will just let this passage from her poem speak for itself.

"We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: A country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain: If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright."

You can head here to watch the recital in full.

Bernie's upcycled wool mittens

The inauguration day moment that 'won the internet' was Bernie Sanders huddled up in a cozy windbreaker and woollen mittens. The outfit has spawned a thousand memes with Twitter users admiring Bernie's relatable, no-nonsense approach to fashion.

The real star of the show though, were Bernie's upcycled mittens. The mittens are made from old wool jumpers and lined with fleece made out of recycled plastic bottles. A true sustainable fashion icon, Bernie has been wearing these gloves regularly since he was gifted them a few years ago.

The mittens were handmade by second grade teacher Jen Ellis from Essex Junction, Vermont. "I made Bernie’s mittens as a gift a couple years ago. They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece (made from recycled plastic bottles)," she wrote on Twitter.

In an interview with NPR, Jen reflected on the newfound fame of her humble mittens.

"I'm just sort of a normal-looking person. And I think that it's really great that Bernie wore something that is accessible to normal people," she said. "People can't afford those lovely outfits that everybody else wore, although they were nice to look at. It was nice to have a little piece of reality, you know, and of normal people in such a prominent event."

Bernie's mittens are a symbol of the small environmental actions each of us can take every day to reduce our impact on the planet.


Positive Actions

Lucy Jones

Lucy started her career working as a writer and editor in print and digital publishing. She went on to create content for Australia's leading sustainable fashion platform while completing her Master of Cultural Studies. Lucy spends her downtime at the beach, crocheting and hanging out with her cat Larry. She believes words can change the world and is stoked to help Planet Ark spread the message of positive environmental change.

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