Joe Biden announced an ambitious plan for addressing climate change Tuesday during a speech in Delaware. The presumptive Democratic nominee laid out a proposal that includes more than $2 trillion dollars of spending over four years, focused largely on ramping up clean energy projects across the country. He also established a goal of ending all carbon emissions from power plants by 2035.
The plan, which is the second plank of his "Build Back Better" economic agenda that aims to stimulate the country's economy following the coronavirus pandemic, is intended to set the United States on what Biden calls "an irreversible path" to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The first step in that plan is to completely cut carbon emissions from the energy sector by 2035, a goal that was also part of Elizabeth Warren's and Jay Inslee's campaigns. Biden plans to accomplish this by investing heavily in clean energy alternatives including wind and solar while tightening regulations and shifting away from dirty-burning energy sources. Inslee, the current governor of the state of Washington, told the New York Times in an interview that Biden's proposal is "not a status quo plan,” but is instead “comprehensive" and "visionary." On Twitter, Elizabeth Warren also endorsed the plan, saying that it will "move America forward."
Biden's other primary goals include rebuilding America's infrastructure in a sustainable and clean manner, ranging from roads and bridges that have been crumbling and neglected for decades to restructuring electricity grids and broadband in a way that will be able to withstand the coming impacts of climate change. The candidate claims these projects will create "millions of good, union jobs" and will ultimately improve public health. He also intends to add one million new jobs to the American automotive industry by incentivizing a shift to electric vehicles. Another 250,000 new jobs would come in the agriculture and conservation section, where Biden sees the need for addressing abandoned natural gas wells and oil fields that are currently leaking dangerous methane gas.
Biden's climate vision also imagines a cleaner public transit system. The candidate called for all American cities with 100,000 or more residents to provide high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options, including light rail networks and electric buses, as well as improved infrastructure to support pedestrians and bicyclists. Buildings and homes would also see a new, environmentally-friendly focus. Biden called for upgrades to be made to more than four million buildings and two million homes over the next four years that would update and weatherize the structures, while using more energy-efficient materials and appliances to reduce the cost of residential energy bills. Biden also intends to spur the construction of 1.5 million new sustainable homes and housing units across the country.
Finally, Biden's plan imagines an America that leads in innovation when it comes to clean energy development. The Democratic candidate chided Trump for failing this goal, allowing the country to fall behind others, including China. "[Trump] said he doesn’t like LED because, quote, 'The light’s no good. I always look orange,'" Biden said while announcing his climate plan. Instead of ignoring the clean energy sector and propping up oil and coal, Biden's plan calls to drive down the costs of critical energy technologies including battery storage, negative emissions technologies, and the next generation of building materials. As President, Biden said he would rapidly commercialize those achievements so that the new technology can be manufactured in America and sold to other nations equally as concerned about the future of the environment.
Biden positioned his plan as a key part of his efforts to restore the American economy, as well as a means of delivering environmental justice. He claimed the plan would create "good, union, middle-class jobs" that would be accessible in communities that have been left behind and forced to bear the brunt of pollution — particularly communities of color. "When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax,’" Biden said. "When I think of climate change, the word I think about is ‘jobs.’ Good paying union jobs that’ll put Americans to work."