Published Friday, October 9, 2020
Biden’s Visionary Climate Plan
Addresses Urgency of Crisis
By Sam Goodman
Democrats Abroad Costa Rica
With a path toward net-zero emissions, Joe Biden has set forth the most ambitious and comprehensive climate agenda ever by a Democratic nominee for president. Biden's accelerated plan to spend $2 trillion over four years to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future is the second plank of his Build Back Better plan.
If elected, Biden will work to reverse President Donald Trump’s disastrous environmental record. Over the last four years, Trump has rolled back environmental rules and regulations on an unprecedented scale and is in the process of withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement.
The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice warns that "climate change poses an existential threat – not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities, our national security, and our economic well-being."
With scientists sounding the alarm that we have until 2030 to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half to avert the worst effects of climate change, Biden is clearly the only candidate who understands the urgency of the issue. The core of Biden's agenda is setting the United States on an “irreversible path” toward net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by 2050. Biden has also committed to charting a path to a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. This is much more ambitious than anything proposed under the Obama Administration, which outlined a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent in 2050.
“It’s perfect for the moment,” said Washington Governor and former Presidential candidate Jay Inslee, whose 200-page climate plan was dubbed the “gold standard” by Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.
Biden’s plan will create millions of well-paying jobs as the United States transitions to a low-carbon economy. He will build back the United States’ economy by investing in modern, sustainable infrastructure and rebuild its roads, bridges, buildings, the electric grid, and water infrastructure. While Biden’s plan stops short of endorsing the Green New Deal, he acknowledges the need to "embrace greater ambition on an epic scale," as well as acknowledge the interconnectivity of the environment and economy.
Biden has made a special appeal to younger generations with his visionary plan. “I want young climate activists, young people everywhere, to know: I see you. I hear you. I understand the urgency, and together we can get this done,” said Biden.
A Biden presidency would also be a welcome return to international climate diplomacy. Biden has committed to rejoining the Paris Agreement. Trump, despite the United States being the second largest greenhouse gas emitter, is withdrawing from the agreement, the only country to do so. A Biden Administration would begin coordinating immediately with other major greenhouse gas emitters to prevent the worst consequences of climate change, promising to convene a climate world summit in his first 100 days in office to raise ambition in climate pledges.
Biden is also calling for radical changes in the management of federal lands. While he has stopped short of seeking a nationwide ban on fracking, he wants a ban on new oil and gas permits on federal lands and waters. In addition, Biden has pledged to modify the royalties that companies pay to account for climate costs.
A proud signatory of the New Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, Biden has refused to accept contributions from oil, gas and coal corporations or executives. He has also committed to ending fossil fuel subsidies, a necessary step to save billions of taxpayer dollars and level the playing field for renewable resources.
Biden’s choice of Senator Kamala Harris for Vice President adds another important climate advocate to the ticket. Harris, who holds a 91 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, was a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal. As a presidential candidate, Harris unveiled a $10 trillion climate plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.
Much of Biden’s agenda mirrors the 2020 Democratic Party Platform, which provides a comprehensive overview of the party’s guiding policies and principles. The platform similarly commits to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible but no later than 2050 and seeks to eliminate carbon pollution from power plants by 2035.
The Trump Administration has rolled back Obama-era fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for new cars and light trucks, replaced the Clean Power Plan, and proposed significant changes to the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. His Department of Interior has auctioned off millions of acres of Federal lands for oil and gas leasing for as little as $2 an acre.
While Joe Biden may come from the more moderate wing of the Democratic party, his plan on climate change is one that could transform society. “The magic of Joe Biden is that everything he does becomes the new reasonable,” former Democratic candidate Andrew Yang said. “If he comes with an ambitious template to address climate change, all of a sudden, everyone is going to follow his lead.”
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