The Civilian Climate Corps Unveiled to Combat Climate Change

Environmental Policy Brief #161 | By: Carlos Avalos | September 27, 2023

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On 9/20/23 The Civilian Climate Corps has been unveiled by President Joe Biden but has been in the works since January 27, 2021, when he handed down Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. In SEC 215 of the Executive Order the Civilian Climate Corps Initiative was created. The Civilian Climate Corps is an interagency partnership between AmeriCorps, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Departments of Labor, Interior, Agriculture, and Energy. The aim of the Civilian Climate Corps as stated in the Executive order is to mobilize the next generation of conservationists and maximize the creation of accessible training opportunities and good jobs. “The initiative shall aim to conserve and restore public lands and waters, bolster community resilience, and increase reforestation.” Its aim is to also increase carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protect biodiversity, improve access to recreation, and address the changing climate.”


It is estimated that this new climate jobs training program could put up to 20,000 people to work in the first year. This initiative is modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was a New Deal program created by Franklin D. Roosevelt that put millions of young men to work during the Great Depression. The aim of the Civilian Conservation Corps was to restore public lands and building out national parks. President Biden’s Climate Policy advisor Ali Zaidi stated, “this initiative not only is addressing climate change, one of the most pressing issues that the world faces today, but it’s paving the way for good paying careers, and making our communities more fair, more sustainable, and more resilient.” The Civilian Climate Corps will pay people and most of the positions will not require previous experience. After someone completes the Civilian Climate Corps President Joe Biden is advocating for new regulations aimed at making it easier for participants to enter the federal public service.

In comparison to the Civilian Conservation Corps which ran for a decade and employed millions of people; The Civilian Climate Corps is on a much smaller scale, at least for now. Another glaring key difference is that the Civilian Conservation Corps employed young White men. While the Civilian Climate Corps is designed to attract participants from disadvantaged communities disproportionately impacted by the changing climate.

One of the first major partnerships under President Biden’s Civilian Climate Corps are between AmeriCorps and the US Forest Service to establish the new AmeriCorps NCCC Forest Corps. AmeriCorps is the federal agency for national service and volunteerism. AmeriCorps provides opportunities for Civilians of all backgrounds to serve their country, address the nation’s most pressing challenges, and improve lives and communities. The six key areas of the Americorps are disaster services, education, healthy futures, Veterans and military families, environmental stewardship, and economic opportunity. This is a five-year, $15 million interagency agreement, with the first cohort of 80 members to begin service in the summer of 2024. The AmeriCorps NCCC Forest Corps will deploy across America to conserve national forests and grasslands, mitigate risks of wildfires in high-risk regions, and support reforestation efforts and wildfire crisis response. AmeriCorps NCCC Forest Corps members will receive a compensation package equivalent to $15 an hour that includes lodging, transportation, clothing, a living allowance, health benefits, and more.

It appears that President Biden and his administration are throwing everything from legislation, executive orders, money, and man power through the Civilian Climate Corps at the pressing global issue of climate change. Time will tell if President Biden and his administrations lofty efforts will create or push for meaningful change on the issue of climate change.

“Republicans have denounced the program as a boondoggle that would create eco-vigilantes who, as one lawmaker recently warned, will “report who is watering their lawn, or whose fireplace is smoking.” A major obstacle is in the implementation of the Civilian Climate Corps and how to actually design the Civilian Climate Corps. Senior House Democrats have challenged that the plan, arguing billions of dollars should not be rushed out the door to an agency that would be saddled overnight with recruiting and training thousands of workers in clean energy and climate projects.

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