Biden Weighs in with Ambitious Climate Plan

June 5, 2019

Leading Democratic candidate answers critics with ambitious climate proposal.

New York Times:

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has faced criticism from Democratic presidential rivals about his commitment to combating climate change, on Tuesday unveiled a plan centered on reinstating the climate policies of the Obama administration — but he included some unexpected proposals that would push significantly beyond what the previous White House achieved.

Mr. Biden, who in tone and substance is one of the most centrist candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, has insisted he is no moderate when it comes to protecting the environment, though progressives have been skeptical. Polls show that fighting climate change is a top priority for Democratic voters, and Mr. Biden selected the issue for his second policy rollout, after an education plan he released last week.

“On day one, Biden will sign a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track,” his campaign wrote. “He will not only recommit the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change — he will go much further.”

Mr. Biden’s plan calls for the United States to entirely eliminate its net emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution by 2050, the same goal put forth in the Green New Deal, the sweeping climate change proposal championed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

By comparison, Mr. Biden’s former boss, President Barack Obama, had pledged to the world that the United States would lower its emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Mr. Biden would also call for an investment of $1.7 trillion over 10 years into clean energy and environmental justice programs, designed to help minorities and poor people disproportionately harmed by pollution, paid for by a rollback of President Trump’s tax breaks for corporations.

“This definitely goes further than the Obama administration in terms of aspiration,” said Robert N. Stavins, an environmental economist at Harvard.

Mr. Biden’s plan is not as ambitious or detailed as those of some of his more environmentally minded competitors, but some of its goals are similar. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who is basing his campaign on fighting climate change, has called for the nation to eliminate its net carbon emissions by 2045.Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has faced criticism from Democratic presidential rivals about his commitment to combating climate change, on Tuesday unveiled a plan centered on reinstating the climate policies of the Obama administration — but he included some unexpected proposals that would push significantly beyond what the previous White House achieved.

Mr. Biden, who in tone and substance is one of the most centrist candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, has insisted he is no moderate when it comes to protecting the environment, though progressives have been skeptical. Polls show that fighting climate change is a top priority for Democratic voters, and Mr. Biden selected the issue for his second policy rollout, after an education plan he released last week.

“On day one, Biden will sign a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track,” his campaign wrote. “He will not only recommit the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change — he will go much further.”

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8 Responses to “Biden Weighs in with Ambitious Climate Plan”

  1. rsmurf Says:

    The fact that we are just STILL only talking about a climate plan means that we are screwed!


  2. Both Biden and Warren are still only proposing indirect measures to promote the reduction in emissions without actually doing anything that actually results in reduction.

    – No carbon pricing.
    – No killing of massive direct and indirect oil and gas subsidies.
    – No effective vehicle emission regulation – The US CAFE standard is 60% weaker than the EU standard coming into effect (94 g CO2 / km fleet average) The EU fleet average when translated into US units is 59 mpg fleet average! No fracking ban.
    – No details about the route to net zero in 2050 as if you can count on what happens more than 7 presidential terms out – these types of “plans” are usually back end loaded leaving the real work to future generations.

  3. jimbills Says:

    Most recent news about it are accusations of plagiarism. However, this seems like a minor distraction. The Biden campaign has issued a new release with credits.

    I looked over the plan on his website. It is more aggressive than expected, and I think the timing of Ocasio-Cortez’s GND has a lot to do with that. The Biden plan states in the beginning it recognizes the importance of it.

    The parts I like best are the ones that Biden could do on his end: monitor and regulate emissions at NG sites, fuel economy mandates, building and infrastructure standards, no oil and gas permitting on public lands, and working with other countries on strengthening measures. One of the best in there is ‘demand a worldwide ban on fossil fuel subsidies’.

    There are a number of details that are also positives: rebuilding infrastructure, incentivizing EVs, improving passenger rail, working with local communities and agriculture on standards, and prioritizing help for low-income areas.

    The are some questions and holes, however.

    1) The plan explicitly states it will ‘double down’ on biofuels. There are a lot of environmental and economic questions especially about corn ethanol. Obviously, though, that will play well in the middle of the country politically.

    2) There are a bunch of vague items. The plan calls for ‘conserving’ (not reserving) 30% of America’s lands – and waters. What does that mean? We currently have 14% of the land area – I don’t know the water figures. That’s just one example.

    3) There’s a big part on CCS – which at this point I think is a step back rather than forwards. Vox is saying that’s something that will play well with labor unions, though:
    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/6/5/18653079/joe-biden-climate-plan-plagiarism-neil-kinnock

    The largest hole, though, is that it lacks a clear path to achieving its promise of net zero by 2050. It’s essentially a list of better practices and incentives, but it makes no statement about a carbon tax or directly funding renewable projects. It says it will be legally-binding, but it doesn’t say how – and that seems an empty promise to me anyway, as it would require Congress. It says it will devote $1.7 trillion over 10 years, but it’s vague on where that money will go. It seems to indicate a bunch would be spent on R&D.

    Elizabeth Warren released her own plan at essentially the same time. That seems a mistake to me – Biden has taken all the headlines. Warren’s is a little less vague (although not dramatically so), and at first blush at least looks very similar to Biden’s plan:
    View at Medium.com

    The largest difference I can see is that it calls for direct purchasing of cleaner tech as well as R&D. I can’t tell where those purchases go. Her earlier plans also call for much better climate practices in the military and on public lands.

    It shouldn’t have to be stated that any of the above is a million times better than Trump. Obvs.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      SOME questions and holes? Beyond the fact that it is a slap-dash “night before the paper is due” effort and something he should have had ready months ago, and therefore the sloppy plagiarism? It is mind blowing that some of it was lifted verbatim from a COAL site—just because it will “play well”?—-more BS politics.

      And the focus should not be on RE and greenness anyway. The problem is the dark money and the Koch brothers et al who have bought the country—-does Biden have any plan for that?—-Elizabeth Warren has MANY. Or is he going to cozy up to Wall Street like Obama did?

      https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/03/biden-takes-wall-street-from-bloomberg

      Being “a million times better than Trump” does’t cut it if your “middle of the road” politics isn’t going to solve the problems—-we may as well reelect Trump and get the catastrophe over with.

      • jimbills Says:

        Oh, I have no doubt he’ll be nice and cozy with big money.

        The big question to me on climate change is if he’d actually work to have an international agreement to end subsidies for fossil fuels as well as ending them in the U.S. in his first year. That’s huge. It could all be BS, though.

        I agree 100% with Warren on money in politics. Couldn’t agree more. The thing on that is that it will never happen, though. Campaign and lobbying reform is DOA every time it’s brought up. Wish it weren’t so, but it is. There was recent news about Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz talking about a lifetime ban on Congress members later serving as lobbyists. Completely sensible, limited to a tiny numbers of Americans – no chance of passing. (Cruz is a full-throttle Machiavellian who is always happy to get his name attached to a populist, Washington outsider plan – especially when he knows it would never pass. Ocasio-Cortez is sincere, but might not recognize Cruz for the snake he is.)

        On the Vox article, I’ve known Matthew Yglesias for years as an apologist for Democratic centrism. Funnily enough, he also had a worthless article about the lobbyist ban:
        https://www.vox.com/2019/6/3/18647228/aoc-ted-cruz-lobbying-ban

        His take: potentially harmful! Too small to make a difference! Keep it like it is, but pay Congress members more!

        On Biden, I’ve said it on other posts, but I’m not certain he’s the great Dem hope that some people think he is. The dude has major skeletons that will come out in the campaign, he’s drawing small crowds to his events (which potentially shows a lack of enthusiasm), he doesn’t have many events (which potentially shows a lack of personal energy), he would be the oldest President in history, and he has a long history of performing poorly on the national campaign trail.

        The take that he’s automatically better because he caters to the corn growers and coal regions of the country might be more than offset by a candidate that can draw real excitement and boost voter turnout.


  4. Jay Inslee is releasing his Global plan for joint climate action with US leadership at the front of the line. Combine both plans and we have what AOC is calling the Gold Standard of action. Time to look in the mirror and ask who is built to answer the bell for the climate future.


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