Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced a sweeping $2 trillion climate plan on Tuesday. Long criticized for being too moderate, Biden’s outline position him to score higher among liberal voters. The climate plan aims to create a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and set the stage for the country to reach economy-wide net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.
Biden has consistently positioned himself as a pro-environmental politician. In 1987, his climate change bill was the first to make it through the Senate and was signed into law by President Ronald Regan. Serving as vice president under Barack Obama, Biden oversaw the 2009 economic recovery plan, an $800 billion plan with $90 billion directed to clean energy investments. Prior to this week, Biden’s climate plans included re-entering the Paris Agreement, protecting public land, and creating new energy efficiency standards for vehicle and appliance manufacturers and builders, among other plans. His previous plan would cost $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years. This week’s announcement outlines $2 trillion to be spent in the next four years.
At an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday, the Biden shared that investments in the climate sector are the second part of his “Build Back Better” plan to recover from the current public health and economic crisis.
“These are the most critical investments we can make for the long-term health and vitality of bot the American economy and the physical health and safety of the American people,” says Biden. “Even if we weren’t facing a pandemic and an economic crisis, we should be making these investments anyway.”
Joe Biden’s climate plan, explained
1. Build modern infrastructure and create a carbon pollution-free power sector
Biden’s plan to create a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 includes creating millions of jobs within a more sustainable energy sector. Additionally, he plans to use millions of union workers to rebuild the country’s crumbling infrastructure. From scientists to construction workers and welders to engineers, he plants to rely on workers in many fields. Echoing part one of his “Build Back Better” plan, Biden plans to keep this process American led, using technology built by Americans with American-made materials. But it won’t all be new—he plans to reuse existing infrastructure like power lines and integrate it with new cleaner technologies.
While the clean energy sector plan promises ample employment opportunities, it also promises to help us manage the climate crisis while making economic growth possible. Biden also hopes to reform and extend tax incentives that help generate energy efficiency and clean energy jobs.
For infrastructure, Biden seeks to ensure that transportation infrastructure is reliable and more sustainable. He plans to work on roads, bridges, railways, aviation, ports, and inland waterways. Biden earned the nickname “Amtrak Joe,” as an avid supporter of railroad transportation and hopes to spark the “second great railroad revolution,” ensuring that America has the cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world.
Biden also plans to revolutionize municipal transit networks, ensure safe and clean drinking water for all, expand access to broadband, clean up and redevelop abandoned and underused properties like old power plant and landfills, and revitalize communities.
2. Bolster the American auto industry, energy efficiency in buildings, and clean energy innovation
Biden plans to see the American auto industry make a comeback. One way he wants to do that by purchasing American-made, American-sourced clean vehicles for federal, state, tribal, postal, and local fleets. He also plans to establish fuel economy standards with the intent of saving consumers money and cutting air pollution.
Over four years, Biden plans to upgrade four million commercial buildings to make these spaces healthier places to be and to reduce energy bills. He also wants to provide direct cash rebates and “low-cost” financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances, install more efficient windows, and cut residential energy bills. Further, Biden plans to launch a multi-year effort to modernize the nation’s schools and early learning centers.
Biden’s climate plan outlines “historic” investment in clean energy innovation in his first term by purchasing key clean energy inputs like batteries and electric vehicles to position the country as a leader in clean energy. To facilitate this innovation, he plans to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency on Climate, targeting affordable, game-changing technologies to help America reach that 2050 clean energy target. Additionally, he plans to invest in national laboratories and strengthen minority-serving institutions like land-grand universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
3. Secure environmental justice
In building resilient and sustainable infrastructure and a clean energy economy, Biden plans to address historic environmental injustice. He set a goal for disadvantaged communities to receive 40 percent of the overall spending benefits in clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean transportation, training and workforce developments, reduction of legacy pollution, and development of clean water infrastructure.
To identify these disadvantaged communities, Biden would create a data-driven Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. This will combine data with enhanced monitoring of climate emissions, criteria pollutants, and toxins so agencies and the private sector can invest in rural, suburban, and urban communities in need. Additionally, Biden plans to ensure that polluters are held accountable for what their actions
4. Advance sustainable agriculture and conservation
As part of his climate plan, Biden aims to establish a Civilian Climate Corps to put Americans to work conserving public lands, bolstering community resilience, and addressing the changing climate. The corps would work with scientists and land managers to do things like make forests more resilient to wildfires enhance their carbon intake and protect and restore coastal ecosystems.
Standing up for farms and ranches, Biden wants to help farmers leverage new technologies, techniques, and equipment to increase their productivity and profit. Additionally, he will expand protections for farmworkers, make sire small-to-medium-sized farms have access to fair markets, invest in a diverse range of farmers, and bolster the security and resilience of our food supply.