Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Biden unveils $2 trillion climate plan, links it to economy

Former vice president Joe Biden unveiled Tuesday an expanded—and more expensive—version of his plan to address climate change and stimulate the U.S. economy. The plan proposes spending $2 trillion over four years, "calling for front-line, fence-line and environmentally vulnerable communities to get 40% of the benefits from his climate plan," Adam Aton reports for Energy & Environment News.

Last week a task force formed by Biden and more liberal primary rival Bernie Sanders recommended Biden set goals of eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035, making all new buildings have net zero emissions by 2030, fund energy-saving upgrades to existing structures, install 500 million solar panels and manufacture 60,000 wind turbines.

Biden did not necessarily adopt all the task force's proposals, but they were taken into consideration, CNN reports. Biden did adopt its recommendation to make power plants carbon-neutral by 2035, Aton reports, as well as its recommendations on installing more solar panels, manufacturing more wind turbines, and making existing structures more energy-efficient.

Biden's plan, which carries a higher price tag than any of his other policy proposals, is a "leftward pivot" possibly meant to appease more liberal Democrats, but it also "reflects how the falling cost of renewable energy has made it easier to pitch climate policy as economic stimulus," Aton reports. When Biden announced the plan yesterday, he emphasized that plans like retrofitting buildings with LED lighting would mean jobs for electricians and union workers.

"Republicans responded by accusing Biden of trying to destroy millions of oil and gas jobs," Aton reports, but such arguments may be less powerful these days because falling clean-energy costs have made it easier to make a case for growing the economy with renewable-energy jobs. Renewable energy is a major source of jobs in the rural Midwest (a presidential battleground), far more than oil, gas or coal jobs, according to a January report.

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