The US election result appears to represent a win for the climate with Joe Biden promising to rejoin the Paris agreement and slash the country's emissions. Kamala Harris also made history as the first woman, and first woman of colour, to become vice-president-elect. And there were other progressive outcomes besides
Perhaps the biggest victor in last week’s elections was the climate. A week that began with the US formally withdrawing from the Paris agreement, ended in victory for a candidate who promised to rejoin the treaty and get serious about addressing the climate crisis.
Friends of the Earth said Biden’s victory “offers a glimmer of hope” for addressing the climate crisis. “Campaigning on the strongest climate change platform in presidential history, president-elect Biden now has a mandate to take bold action on climate change,” said the charity’s Erich Pica.
The US, the world’s second biggest CO2 emitter, rejoining the Paris agreement will inject fresh impetus into the race to net zero. Biden’s victory comes weeks after China, the biggest emitter, pledged to be carbon neutral by 2060.
Image: Markus Spiske
Voters in Alabama, Utah and Nebraska approved measures to remove racist language from their state constitutions. While segregation hasn’t been legal in Alabama since the 1950s, the state constitution still stipulates that black and white children should attend separate schools. There is also reference to a ban on interracial marriages. Residents of Alabama voted to have these sections removed.
Similarly, Nebraska and Utah voted in favour of removing references to slavery and involuntary servitude being used as criminal punishments in their state constitutions. And in Mississippi, voters chose a new flag to replace an existing one that includes the Confederate battle flag.
Image: Andrew Buchanan
Sarah McBride will become the first transgender state senator in the history of the US after she won her race in Delaware last week. “I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too,” McBride tweeted after her victory.
McBride is not the only transgender candidate who made history during the election. Taylor Small from Vermont was elected to the House of Representatives, while Kansas’s Stephanie Byers became the first trans person of colour to be elected to a state legislature.
Image: Sarah McBride/Creative Commons
Donald Trump increased his vote share in Florida, a state he went on to win, but voters in the Sunshine State also backed a policy that Biden supported and Trump didn’t: raising the minimum wage to $15 (£11.42) an hour. The current rate of $8.56 (£6.51) is now set to almost double over the next six years.
Image: Aurélien Lemasson-Théobald
San Franciscans voted in favour of several tax measures designed to reduce income inequality in the city. Under the new law, any company whose top executive earns 100 times more than their average worker will pay an extra 0.1 per cent in business tax. If a CEO makes 200 times more than the average employee, the surcharge increases to 0.2 per cent and so on.
Voters also approved new business tax rates that will result in many tech companies paying more. And they voted in favour of a higher transfer tax on property sales valued between $10m (£7.6m) and $25m (£19m).
Image: Rezaul Karim
The presidential race may have been between two white men, but there was progress elsewhere with a record number of Native American women being elected to the House of Representatives.
Democrats Sharice Davids, a Ho-Chunk Nation member for Kansas, and Deb Haaland (pictured), a Laguna Pueblo member for New Mexico, retained their seats having become the first Native American women elected to Congress in 2018. Joining them is Republican, Yvette Herrell, who is Cherokee and represents New Mexico.
Image: Michael Gorman