In a recent interview with Al Gore, Joe Biden made 2 wildly false claims that dangerously downplay the need to reduce carbon emissions.
First, Biden stated “more carbon is absorbed from the atmosphere in the Amazon locked into the ground than all the carbon emitted — the pollution emitted in the United States on a daily basis.” This is utterly false. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. emits 5 billion tons of CO2 per year, which is more than twice the amount that the Amazon absorbs (2 billion tons of CO2 per year).
Biden went on to say of the Amazon, “It absorbs — does more to help the environment than if we stop every single bit of carbon going into the air.” That is incorrect. In reality, the Amazon absorbs about 5% of annual global CO2 emissions, not “more to help the environment than if we stop every single bit of carbon going into the air”.
So why is Joe Biden saying the Amazon rainforest offsets climate change more than reducing emissions? Professor Simon Lewis, who researches climate change at Leeds University, explained to The Guardian last month.
“There is a lot of talk about offsetting, but the reality is that every country and every sector needs to reach zero emissions…The use of forests as an offset is largely a marketing tool for companies to try to continue with business as usual.”
Despite his endorsement from environmentalist Al Gore, there is reason to believe Biden would allow the fossil fuel industry to continue business as usual. Biden’s campaign co-chairman is “one of the most fossil fuel industry -friendly of all the Democrats in Congress”; his climate advisor is a former board member of a natural gas company; pro-Biden super PAC leadership has worked for multiple natural gas companies; and Biden attended a fundraiser co-hosted by a natural gas company founder and longterm investor in fossil fuels.
Biden also campaigns with Ken Salazar, the former interior secretary who opened the arctic to drilling, led the botched response to BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and pushed for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Later in the private sector, he worked in a pro-TPP front group to increase corporations’ ability to overturn environmental regulations; lied that “there’s not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone”; and worked for a Colorado oil and gas producer, responsible for a fatal home explosion, killing two people in 2017.
Al Gore explained his endorsement of Biden saying “if you care about the climate crisis, if you want to start solving the climate crisis, this is not rocket science”. Neither Gore nor the media reporting on his endorsement of Biden bothered to fact check Biden’s false statements on the environment.
UPDATE: The following month, Biden repeated the false claim that “More carbon is absorbed from the air in what they call this carbon sink — the Amazon — than every bit of carbon that’s emitted in the United States of America on a daily basis”.