Climate action is a high profile election issue in 2020 and presumptive Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden Jr. gets the urgency of this crisis. His inclusion of Kamala Harris as his running mate cements the Biden ticket as the most climate forward presidential candidacy in the history of the Republic.
Biden’s climate focus is critical because the U.S. is currently ranked as the worst performing country in the world on climate action. Another four years of Trump could augur the end of civilization as we know it.
Biden’s climate agenda is the product of consultations with climate activists, scientists, mayors and governors. His proposal draws on the plans of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Elizabeth Warren as well as his climate unity task force which is led by progressive Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Secretary of State John Kerry.
The former vice president’s climate plan is focused on clean energy in electricity generation, building and transportation. He has indicated that he will invest $2 trillion on climate action in his first term. Biden wants to move away from American energy generated by fossil fuels and institute full decarbonization of electricity production by 2035. Emissions free energy (Solar, wind, nuclear) is the first step towards Biden’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. He also wants to fund research and provide tax incentives that will drive carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). He wants to maximize the energy efficiency of four million buildings and convert government vehicles to electric vehicles. He also wants to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, hold polluters accountable, and end the Keystone XL pipeline.
The plan will be realized through executive actions and legislation. It will be payed for through an increase in the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent, and stimulus money. Gov. Inslee called Biden’s climate plan “comprehensive” and “visionary”.
“These are the most critical investments we can make for the long-term health and vitality of both the American economy, and the physical health and safety of the American people,” Biden said. “Here we are now with an economy in crisis. But with an incredible opportunity, not just to build back to where we were before, but better, stronger more resilient. When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is hoax. When I think about climate change, the word I think of is jobs — good-paying union jobs.”
ECONOMY AND JOBS
The economy and COVID-19 are the key interrelated issues in this election. However, the coronavirus has exposed fault lines in our economic system. Trump’s callous mismanagement of the pandemic is killing Americans and prolonging the economic impacts. Biden intends to use science to manage the virus and sound economics to drive recovery. Instead of radical deregulation that endangers the health and safety of Americans, Biden sees investments in clean energy and infrastructure as the way to resuscitate a flagging economy. His economic plan seeks to create millions of high paying jobs that will make America both more sustainable and more resilient.
“I know meeting the challenge would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jolt new life into our economy, strengthen our global leadership, protect our planet for future generations,” Biden said. “If I have the honor of being elected president, we’re not just going to tinker around the edges. We’re going to make historic investments that will seize the opportunity, meet this moment in history.”
For many Americans the most important issue is the scourge of systemic racism and environmental injustice. The pandemic and the economic collapse have exposed serious fault lines. To address climate change and environmental injustice Biden is reviewing some fundamental economic issues.
Environmental advocacy and racial justice are at the core of Biden’s plan. To address the fact that pollution and toxic contamination disproportionately impacts people of color Biden want to establish an office of environmental and climate justice. Biden’s environmental justice focus also seeks to protect people of color who are disproportionately impacted by climate change. Under Biden’s plan 40 percent of clean energy and infrastructure investments will go towards disadvantaged and tribal communities.
Americans face multiple problems and dealing with these problems constitutes one of the greatest challenges in the history of the nation. Biden sees these challenges as the next great test of American ingenuity. He is not interested in going back to the way things were before, he wants to make things better.
Biden’s plan is challenging but it is achievable and the benefits will be felt far and wide. If the Democrats win the White House, America will re-enter the Paris Agreement, build a clean energy economy and lead by example. This could help recoup some of the country’s reputation which has been seriously tarnished under Trump’s leadership.
The politics of climate change has come a long way in recent years. While Hillary Clinton’s climate plan included $60 billion for clean energy, Biden’s plan calls for two trillion dollars worth of investments. As indicated by the polls Biden may benefit from the majority of Americans who want government to invest in climate action.