US Democratic presidential candidate – and emerging favourite – Joe Biden has rolled out successive announcement outlining his commitment to clean energy investment in the US, both in the name of jobs and trying to tackle climate change.
Last week, Biden presented a blueprint for renewable energy success from the “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force” which calls for the installation of 500 million solar panels within five years and the elimination of carbon pollution from power plants by 2035.
That plan has been swiftly backed up this week by the official unveiling of Biden’s climate policy, which proposes to spend $US2 trillion over four years to significantly escalate the use of clean energy in the transportation, electricity and building sectors.
“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 at the policy launch.
“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.’”
Biden said he would take the climate plan – which is being described as “aggressive” in the local US press – to Congress “immediately” if he is elected president.
The policy largely follows the recommendations of the Unity taskforce of Sanders and Biden supporters that was co-chaired by the New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who co-sponsored the Green New Deal, and former secretary of state John Kerry.
“Climate change is a global emergency,” the group explained in their letter of recommendations to the Biden campaign. “We have no time to waste in taking action to protect Americans’ lives and futures.
“We will take immediate action to reverse the Trump Administration’s dangerous and destructive rollbacks of critical climate and environmental protections,” the group continued, adding the first of their concrete recommendations: “We will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and, on Day One, seek higher ambition from nations around the world, putting the United States back in the position of global leadership where we belong.”
Putting aside the traditional, and at times unwanted, American exceptionalism that has been a hallmark of US international policy for the past three decades, the Unity Task Force calls for environmental leadership to start at home by restoring protections “for irreplaceable public lands and waters, from Bears Ears National Monument to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We will follow science and the law by reducing harmful methane and carbon pollution from the energy sector.”
Maybe the most startling and leadership-setting goal of the Task Force, however, is the recommendation to commit to installing 500 million solar panels within five years of Joe Biden being sworn in as President. The solar goal would also include eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems.
The renewable energy recommendations continued to include the installation of 60,000 “made-in-America” wind turbines and the development of “a modern electric grid by investing in interstate transmission projects and advanced, 21st century grid technologies to power communities with clean electricity.”
A significant focus was also placed on the transport sector, affirming “California’s statutory authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own emissions standards for cars and trucks” and the reestablishment of strong emissions standards.
This will, of course, include accelerating the adoption of zero-emission vehicles across the country and transitioning the entire fleet of 500,000 school buses to “American-made” zero-emission alternatives within five years. Moreover, all of the 3 million vehicles in the federal, state, and local fleets would be transitioned to zero-emission alternatives.
In an effort to support the public and private adoption of “affordable low-pollution and zero-emission vehicles,” state and local governments would install at least 500,000 public charging stations across the country, while also increasing investment in public transportation so as to provide cleaner, more environmentally friendly transit options.
The list of recommendations also included a promise to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030 “on the pathway to creating a 100% clean building sector.” If elected, the Democrats would seek to encourage states and cities to adopt energy-efficient building codes and pave the way for easier access to energy efficiency upgrades.
The vast majority of the list of recommendations offered by the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force is arguably designed to counter President Donald Trump’s own efforts to undo all of former President Obama’s environmental efforts – part of the current president’s narcissistic obsession with competing with his predecessor.
The recommendations cover a wide variety of environmental and climate issues and would go a long way to restoring America’s environmental and climate situation to where it was when President Obama left office.
As for “putting the United States back in the position of global leadership where we belong,” that is a goal well beyond the abilities of a conservative Democrat such as Joe Biden, and dismisses the evolution of climate and environmental leadership in the absence of any such direction from the United States.