On Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden revealed a wide-ranging plan to combat climate change. Warning that “we must take drastic action now to address the climate disaster facing the nation and our world,” Biden’s plan is intended to transform the economy of the United States. Using the Green New Deal as his baseline, Biden, who’s the clear front-runner in the race for the 2020 presidential election, has announced that he’s “calling for a Clean Energy Revolution to confront this crisis and do what America does best – solve big problems with big ideas.”
The cost of the proposal, which is named “The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution & Environmental Justice,” is $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years. According to Biden’s campaign, this would be supplemented by leveraging more than $5 trillion in additional private sector and state and local investments. Biden’s plan is less expensive than Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, which is estimated at $93 trillion.
Biden’s plan has received criticism from Ocasio-Cortez and other left-wing members of the party for his stance on environmental issues. Biden vowed that he would pay for the new plans by rolling back the tax incentives in President Trump’s tax cuts. According to Biden, Trump’s tax cuts “enrich corporations at the expense of American jobs and the environment.”
In a statement announcing his plan, Biden explained that “more severe storms and droughts, rising sea levels, warming temperatures, shrinking snow cover and ice sheets -- it's already happening. We must take drastic action now to address the climate disaster facing the nation and our world.” He also warned that “science tells us that how we act or fail to act in the next 12 years will determine the very livability of our planet.”
Biden’s unveiling of his 22-page plan comes just three weeks after he teased that he would be producing a proposal very soon. Meanwhile, he’s been pushing back against Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism that his record of tackling climate change was “middle of the road.” In Biden’s plan, he explained that the Green New Deal “captures two basic truths” – that the nation “urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge,” and that the environment and the country’s economy “are completely and totally connected.” Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is a proposal that she introduced to Congress earlier this year. The proposal’s aim is to transform the economy in order to fight climate change while creating a host of new welfare programs.
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Biden’s campaign said that he would ensure that the United States achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches a net-zero emission before 2050. They also said that if Biden was elected president, on his first day he would sign a series of executive orders “with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track.” Included in Biden’s plan are demands for Congress to pass a bill in Biden’s first year that would include milestone targets not later than 2025. He would also make a historic investment in climate research and innovation, clear energy, and “incentivize the rapid deployment of clean energy innovations across the economy.”
Biden’s campaign spotlighted that he would not only recommit the United States to the Paris Agreements on climate change, but he would also “rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change.” The campaign has also promised that the Biden administration would take action against fossil fuel companies and others “who put profit over people and knowingly harm our environment and poison our communities’ air, land, and water, or conceal information regarding potential environmental and health risks.” Biden, who is a friend of organized labor, would vow “not to leave any workers or communities left behind” while the country transforms into a clean energy economy.
Climate change is a major issue in the fight for the Democratic nomination. In fact, several of Biden’s rivals have released their own plans for combating climate change. Last month, Biden’s past efforts to combat climate change were criticized by Ocasio-Cortez. In a tweet, AOC described Biden’s new plan as a “dealbreaker. There is no 'middle ground' w/ climate denial & delay.”
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The next day, while AOC was at an event to support the Green New Deal, she took aim at Biden again. Even though she didn’t mention Biden by name, AOC stated that “if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try to come back today and say we need to have a ‘middle of the road approach’ to save our lives, that is too much for me.”
Biden was campaigning in New Hampshire when he responded to AOC’s comments. “You never heard me say ‘middle of the road.’ I’ve never been middle-of-the-road on the environment. Tell her ... to look at my record. She’ll find that nobody has been more consistent about taking on the environment and a green revolution than I have,” he said while speaking to reporters. And in his defense, he also pointed out that “this is a long campaign and everybody should just calm down a little bit and take a look at the record from before.”