Climate legislation like cap-and-trade has never been approved by Congress, but President Obama is determined to make global warming a top priority of his second term with or without congressional approval, Vice President Biden told Rolling Stone on Thursday.

“In the very beginning, we decided that we had to move on this. And we thought, cap-and-trade. But it got shut down, even when we had a Democratic Congress,” Biden said. “So from that point on, the president has been trying to figure out how he can use his executive authority to make some real changes.”

In an ideal world, those changes would include cap-and-trade and a carbon tax with the goal of eliminating carbon fuels altogether, Biden said. But those plans won’t pass Congress, so the administration will have to do it without their help.

The veep said nothing about the fact environmental regulation has already exploded under Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency. Nor did he note that in most national surveys, the public ranks global warming among the least important issues facing the country.

“Theoretically, it would be nice not to have any carbon fuels. … But it’s been hard to get our arms around, with this Congress, what you know you should be doing,” he said. “You should be attacking the carbon emissions, period, and whether it’s cap-and-trade or carbon tax or whatever, that’s the realm in which we should be playing.”

But because Congress won’t play along, Obama will do what he can to discourage carbon-producing fossil fuels and subsidize alternative energy like electric vehicles and biofuels, to which he devoted $90 billion in stimulus money in his first term.

“In the meantime, the president is going to use his executive authority to, essentially, clean up the bad stuff, encourage the good stuff and promote private industry moving in that direction. If we had a different Congress, I think you’d see a more aggressive emissions legislation,” Biden said.

Organizing for Action, Obama’s reorganized campaign operation, has been busily pushing climate change in the meantime. At least three OFA emails just this week have targeted Republicans for their climate change skepticism.

“If I said to you: ‘Unicorns exist, I totally just saw one galloping down the street,’ most likely you’d give me a sad look and get on with your day,” one email begins. “But what if House Speaker Boehner and the chairman of the House Science Committee said they didn’t know if the science behind climate change was real. (Yeah. That actually happened.)”

“We all know that we’re not going to make progress on climate change unless climate deniers in Congress are publicly called out and held accountable,” another email said. “We don’t just want to embarrass these guys — we need to change the conversation on climate change in Washington.”