President Joe Biden signs his first executive order in the Oval Office (Image: AP/Evan Vucci)

Just hours into his presidency, Joe Biden has already made sweeping changes to erase signs of Donald Trump’s reign. 

Five hours after Biden was sworn in, he signed the first of 17 executive orders covering climate action, coronavirus and more.

Climate action

Biden has signed the US back up to the Paris Accord, pledging to keep global warming to under two degrees by 2030. He has also reversed more than 100 Trump policies, many of them environmental.

He rescinded the permit for the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline and issued a moratorium on oil and natural gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Mask mandate

Biden is encouraging Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration and has made face coverings and social distancing a legal requirement for those in on federal property.

COVID-19 response

Biden has signed an order to structure the federal government to coordinate a unified national response to the pandemic. He has also signed the US back up to the World Health Organisation after Trump left in May, accusing it of being too close to China.

Pandemic assistance

A pause on evictions and foreclosures has been extended until at least March 31, and student loan repayments have been paused, interest-free, until September 30. Biden also plans to introduce a US$1.9 trillion relief bill.

Racial equity and immigration

Biden has stopped funding for the US-Mexico border wall that Trump started building. He’s also reversed a ban on immigration from some Muslim-majority countries in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia and launched a whole-of-government initiative to advance racial equity. 

Non-citizens will also be counted in the US census. He has also extended the stay of displaced people from Liberia in the US on temporary visas.

Biden also plans to introduce a directive to speed up the process for families separated at the US-Mexico border under Trump’s policies and make it easier for those in the US illegally to become citizens.


An initiative to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation has also been launched, and new ethics rules for political appointees have been implemented.