The promise and peril of three new national climate proposals Are they enough?
In 2017, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced legislation for 100% renewable electricity by 2050 (“100 by ’50 Act”). It was a lifetime ago in terms of climate ambition.
Now, Joe Biden, the Democratic Party presumptive presidential nominee who received a failing grade on climate report cards from several organizations last year, is calling for 100% clean power by 2035.
All three platforms make the case for urgent greenhouse gas reductions and connect climate policy to job creation programs including green infrastructure. They also prioritize investments in lower-income communities and promote community resilience to growing extremes, from deadly heatwaves to catastrophic wildfire.
Thankfully these converging crises offer an opportunity for deep systemic change that can benefit everyone.
Biden’s plan represents the first time ever that a major US political party’s presumptive presidential nominee has embraced promising climate goals including:
a $2 trillion investment over four years in infrastructure, transit, buildings, housing, agriculture, and more, creating at least one million new jobs,
eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035,
requiring that all new buildings have net-zero emissions by 2030,
installing 500 million solar panels and 60,000 American-made wind turbines over the next 5 years, and
cutting emissions in half from existing buildings with energy efficiency upgrades over the next 4 years.
But let’s be clear. To enact policy commensurate with our rapidly worsening climate reality, Biden’s plan should at least adopt some of the science-driven goals from the other new national plans, including:
And these same communities of color are being hit much harder by the pandemics of COVID19, systemic racism, and climate change.
These communities are the least responsible for climate change but bear the brunt of our unabated fossil fuel consumption. There cannot be climate justice without racial justice. We have the solutions and the know-how. The time is now to start implementing a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels, partnering with the communities and workers most impacted.
Climate ambitions are growing nationally but this moment requires us to be even more bold and visionary.
For our country to achieve even the most conservative outcomes in these three new plans, we in California must significantly advance our climate policy timelines.
Per the latest science and climate reality, current state targets for 2030 are simply not enough. We must double California’s goals and immediately begin an equitable process for phasing out fossil fuels in the world’s fifth largest economy. Climate-Safe California is a plan to do just that.