Joe Biden crushed concerns from those to his left that he was too passive about the environment with the unveiling of a comprehensive climate change plan that is targeted, specific, and most importantly, not absurd.
Despite concerns of its originality, Biden’s 22-page plan promises to go “well beyond” actions of the Obama-Biden administration, promising 100% clean energy and net-zero emissions by 2050.
His proposal includes $1.7 trillion investment in federal money over the next ten years, with additional funds from the private sector and state and local governments bringing the total cost up to $5 trillion. He says he will pay for the plan by reversing the Trump tax cuts as well as closing loopholes and eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels.
Biden isn’t concerned with banning air travel or rebuilding every structure in America from the ground up as are his competitors who have blindly embraced the Green New Deal. No, he’s far too concerned about the issue to waste time on fanatical dystopian whims. Instead, he understands that our efforts are basically null and void without pressuring China and India to follow suit. And though we may not like it, safe nuclear power is the most efficient and reliable clean power to date.
“We can no longer separate trade policy from our climate objectives. Biden will not allow other nations, including China, to game the system by becoming destination economies for polluters, undermining our climate efforts and exploiting American workers and businesses,” says the plan.
He proposes carbon adjustment fees or quotas on carbon-intensive goods from nations that fail to meet the environmental regulations laid forth in the Paris Accords.
Biden also proposes bilateral trade agreements with China to hold the country accountable, in which China must eliminate export subsidies for coal and other high-emissions technologies and prove progress in reducing the carbon footprint of its Belt-and-Road Initiative.
He enlists the help of international institutions and agreements that actually wield economic power (unlike the Paris Climate Accords) — he seeks to form a G-20 commitment to end all export subsidies on high-carbon projects and eliminate financing for coal in all but the poorest countries. He wants to reorder the International Monetary Fund bank standards on debt repayment priorities based on how environmentally upsetting the project is.
“The U.S. will lead like-minded nations to establish rules that take unsustainable climate and debt costs — such as those imposed by self-interested Chinese projects — into account in prioritizing who gets paid under international debt forbearance. Projects with high carbon impact and high debt costs will go to the end of the line, making them higher risk and more costly,” according to the plan.
As a major part of his clean energy research, Biden’s plan will support an agenda to research the issues that face nuclear energy today– cost, safety, and waste disposal systems.
Other key facets of Biden’s proposal include:
- The deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030, as well as a restoration of the electric vehicle tax credit
- Establishing an ARPA-C program which will focus on establishing grid-scale battery storage so that wind and solar energy are still readily available when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, lowering the cost of building small-scale nuclear reactors and carbon capture technologies
- Banning offshore drilling in the Arctic
- Establishing a task force to assist fossil fuel workers in coal country find clean energy jobs
A whole slew of 2020 candidates have signed on to the Green New Deal, and a few have released their own wishy-washy plans for climate change.
O’Rourke said that the very first bill he send to Congress will mobilize $5 trillion over 10 years “to transform our aging infrastructure, accelerate innovation, and empower our people and communities to lead the climate fight.” Such vague solutions are supposed to magically give us net-zero emissions ten years from now in 2030, according to Beto.
Warren today released a $2 trillion Green Manufacturing Plan that would devote $1.5 trillion to clean-energy products such as electric vehicles for government use, would devote $400 billion to research, and $100 billion to encourage foreign governments to buy U.S.-made technology. Warren plans to pay for this, universal college, universal college debt cancellation, and universal child care by extra taxes on those who generate profit. Sure, doesn’t sound like it could backfire at all.
Biden’s plan is certainly aggressive and yes, some will feel its impact. But he’s the first democratic candidate to walk the talk when it comes to combatting climate change — our willingness to kill business in the short-term for long-term global benefit will both be rendered useless and put us behind economically if we don’t actively pressure other countries to do the same.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.