joe biden democrat presidential 2020 candidate

Joe Biden announces $1.7tn plan to cut US emissions to zero by 2050

Image credit: reuters

The front-runner for the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination, Joe Biden, has outlined his climate change plans, which aim to achieve 100 per cent clean energy and net zero emissions by 2050.

These goals will be achieved with a $1.7tn (£1.3tn) investment package that would be funded by rolling back corporate tax cuts introduced by Donald Trump. Biden said these cuts led to trillions in stock buybacks and created new incentives to shift profits abroad.

The plan will also leverage additional private sector and state and local investments to bring the total to more than $5tn.

Biden said he would enact the policies in the first year of his administration through a series of executive orders that would eclipse the climate change efforts of the last administration he served in under President Barack Obama.

An enforcement mechanism will then be put in place to shore up milestone targets by the end of his first term in 2025.

Major investments in infrastructure would be designed to increase the hardiness of buildings, water, transportation, and energy infrastructure to the future impacts of climate change.

The former vice president unveiled the plan after weeks of pressure from rivals and green activists who said he was not taking global warming seriously enough and would rely too heavily on Obama-era ideas.

His plans also fall short of the Green New Deal proposed by more progressive elements of the Democrat Party in February that committed to eliminating all the country’s greenhouse gas emissions in a single decade.

“I’m calling for a Clean Energy Revolution to confront this crisis and do what America does best – solve big problems with big ideas,” Biden said in a social media video.

Former first lady Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency foundered in 2016 after she upset blue-collar voters by saying her aggressive climate proposals would put “a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business”, underscoring the pitfalls of environmental politics.

Trump successfully billed Obama-era environmental protections as job killers to his supporters, and has directed his administration to roll back many of them since taking office.

The Sunrise Movement, one of the main activist groups that had pressured Biden to take a tough stand on climate change in recent weeks, called the plan a “good start” and took some credit for its ambition.

“This plan makes it clear: climate change is going to be a defining issue in the 2020 election, and we’ve raised the bar for what it means to be a leader on climate,” said Sunrise president Varshini Prakash.

Some of Biden’s Democratic rivals, including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have taken tougher stances on climate change by fully endorsing the Green New Deal.

Biden said two aspects of the Green New Deal were now at the core of his plan – the urgency for greater ambition to address climate change and the notion that “our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected”.

For the first time, Biden said he would not accept donations from fossil fuel companies or executives and joined nearly a dozen other rivals in the Democratic race in calling for a ban on new oil and gas leasing on federal land and waters – instead focusing on deploying renewables.

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