Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is pitching a $5 trillion-plus climate proposal that he says would lead the U.S. to net zero emission of carbon pollution by 2050.
The former vice president calls for $1.7 trillion in federal spending over 10 years, with the rest of the investments coming from the private sector. Biden proposes covering the taxpayer costs by repealing the corporate tax cuts that President Donald Trump signed in 2017, while eliminating existing subsidies to the fossil fuel companies.
Biden’s plan — a mix of tax incentives, federal spending, new regulation and more aggressive foreign policy on climate issues — comes as he pushes back on rivals’ assertions that his environmental agenda isn’t bold enough. Climate activists largely praised his pitch Tuesday, although some said the Democrats’ 2020 front-runner still hasn’t gone far enough to challenge the fossil fuel industry.
His proposal calls the Green New Deal pushed by some Democrats on Capitol Hill “a crucial outline” but stops short of some of its timelines for weaning the U.S. economy off power from fossil fuels, even as he promises a “clean energy revolution” nationwide and internationally.
“I will lead America and the world, not only to confront the crisis in front us but to seize the opportunity it presents,” Biden says in a campaign video posted online, warning that failure to act threatens “the livability of our planet” and will accelerate natural disasters that are “already happening.”
Biden also joined many of his Democratic primary opponents in pledging not to accept campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry and promising to keep the U.S. in the United Nations climate agreement signed in 2015 while he was vice president under President Barack Obama. Trump, who calls climate science a “hoax,” has pledged to withdraw from that accord.
Reaction to plan
But the release of Biden’s plan was not without controversy. The campaign was forced to amend the proposal because a handful of passages did not credit some of its sources. The Biden campaign said “several citations” had been “inadvertently left out.”
Biden’s plan is similar in size and scope to what former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke has proposed. Its total price tag falls short of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s pitch for $3 trillion in federal spending over a decade and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s $2 trillion green manufacturing plan, also unveiled Tuesday.
Inslee took advantage of the contrasts, saying at a Michigan campaign stop that Biden’s “proposals really lack teeth and they lack ambition that is necessary to defeat the climate crisis.” He added, “We don’t have 30 years to get this job done. We’ve got to start acting now.”