An opinion poll conducted by Morning Consult in the days following the inauguration of the new United States president showed that the five political priorities for voters are economic recovery, health care reform, lowering the budget deficit, investment in infrastructure and combating climate change. The president’s actions in his first 30 days converged around these priorities and indicated that the administration is devoting part of its planning to the environmental issue.
Domestically, some of the actions and economic planning is being organized under a plan to transform of the United States’ energy matrix by 2030. In this sense, the Joe Biden administration has argued that the environmental issue will be the backbone of technological development, transformation in productive infrastructure and transportation, and job creation.
Outside the U.S., this administration is marking the return of the country to the liberal international order with a discourse about moral leadership, which extends itself to the international environmental program by sponsoring a new climate summit in April, with a view toward expanding international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas admissions.
Additionally, the issue has been transformed into one of national security, albeit at the discursive level. John Kerry, a veteran Democratic politician, was recently named to the newly created position special presidential envoy for climate, which holds, among other prerogatives, a seat on the National Security Council.
Movements of this magnitude promoted by the main global power may generate changes in the domestic agendas of other countries. It is not just about the use of sanctions and other leverage from international institutions, but the formation of public opinion through communication channels and political dynamics, especially during election periods.
The domestic and international actions of the United States attract the attention of media in a variety of countries, which report and analyze U.S. policy for national audiences. Individuals form their opinions based on this information and accept or oppose the perspectives of the foreign administration.
This opinion becomes even more relevant during elections, when portions of society are mobilized more intensely to influence the political process, and ordinary citizens are encouraged to form and express their preference on a number of issues.
During elections, candidates and parties adjust their speeches, prioritize problems and present their solutions, with the aim of differentiating themselves from their opponents and attracting the largest number of votes. Therefore, the analysis of the electoral races and their results allows us to predict trends.
In this sense, the American continent will be useful in examining how these domestic and international environmental policies promoted by the United States will reverberate. Throughout 2021, there will be elections in about a third of the countries in the Americas, with emphasis on the general and presidential elections in Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Peru, and legislative elections in Argentina and Mexico.
The environmental issue will tend to be a structuring axis for political platforms and for the most competitive candidates throughout the continent, although in ways that are different from the plans the U.S. government is proposing.