Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden has rolled out a $2 trillion climate change plan that has become a hallmark of his candidacy. Biden is pledging to green the nation’s transportation infrastructure in the next decade by funding “high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options through flexible federal investments.”
The Biden campaign is banking on its climate change plan — which would create millions of jobs — to capture a diverse group of voters on Election Day, from climate advocacy groups to trade unions that support the construction industry.
The plan marks the first time that climate change is a central plank for the Democratic Party, and has the support of popular party leaders, including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and John F. Kerry, former Secretary of State.
“We can lead America to become the world’s clean energy superpower,” Biden said. The plan would redefine the nation’s transportation and energy industries. Its lofty goals include requiring:
- All new U.S.-made buses to be emissions free in a decade;
- The nation to have net-zero emissions by 2050;
- The electricity industry to end carbon pollution by 2035.
Biden’s climate change plan has emerged as a centerpiece of the Democrat’s campaign and is an issue of “national security,” according to the candidate. The $2 trillion plan indeed is getting heightened attention leading up to the election but not for the reasons the Biden team had expected.
President Trump denies that climate change exists. “I don’t think science knows actually,” Trump said recently about climate change. Biden labeled him a “climate denialist.” There is perhaps no other campaign issue where the candidates are further apart.
- The Biden plan would invest more than $1.7 trillion in the next decade in clean energy, climate research and innovation. It would create incentives in the private sector and with state and local governments for implementing green energy solutions that would total $5 trillion during the same time period.
- The plan would set stringent limits on the use of fossil fuels, impacting the oil and gas industries. It would impose new fuel standards aimed at the auto industry that would transition the nation to 100 percent electric cars and light trucks. Consumers would get rebates or financial incentives to trade in their gas-powered vehicles for electric cars and light trucks.
- Addressing concerns of environmentalists, the Biden plan permanently protects the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and ends new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, instead focusing on solar, hydraulic and wind power. Trump is preparing to allow drilling in the refuge.
CALIFORNIA’S ROLE MODEL STATUS CONFLICTS WITH PAST POLICIES
California’s own experience as a national leader in efforts to reduce greenhouse gases demonstrates the opportunities and benefits in moving consumers toward a more energy conscious ethos. California’s emissions of carbon dioxide fell by 14 percent from 2004 to 2017, according to the most recent statistics available. In 2017, the state set a new goal to further reduce its emissions by 40 percent by 2030.
While the state commands one of the largest global economies, it boasts one of the lowest energy consumption levels in the U.S. because of its innovations and use of alternative energy, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
As the fastest growing energy source in the U.S., renewable energy is a burgeoning industry in the state, growing hundreds of new businesses. For example, California is among the nation’s biggest producers of hydro-electric power. California leads the solar market, and was the first state in the U.S. to get more than 5 percent of utility electricity from solar power. Coal represents only a small portion of its portfolio.
As the first state to set a goal to become carbon neutral, California is setting an example that other states are starting to follow through goal-setting and legislation.
However, California’s environmental policies to mitigate the impact of climate change are running up against its previous, seemingly successful efforts to expand development and further grow its economy. But California’s economy has been thriving in part because of a failure to address important environmental issues, such as curtailing expansion of the human habitat to forest and coastal areas; a lack of management of ground-level heat-sensitive vegetation; and a porous system for the transportation and distribution of water.
These and related economic policies and practices make California vulnerable to the extreme weather fluctuations of climate change. State policy will need to address these conditions in order to reap the benefits of its mitigation policies.
Read about the candidate’s climate change plan in detail on his campaign website.
The Sunrise Movement, a leading environmental activist group largely composed of young people, responds to the Biden climate change plan.
The U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency provides information on the electric vehicles and renewable energy.
The Solar Energy Industries Association offers comprehensive information on the alternative energy source.
The Solar Tribune, an industry publication, outlines the issues at stake for the solar industry and consumers in this presidential election.