with Peter Sinclair June 5, 2019
Leading Democratic candidate answers critics with ambitious climate proposal.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has faced criticism from Democratic presidential rivals about his commitment to combating climate change, on Tuesday unveiled a plan centered on reinstating the climate policies of the Obama administration — but he included some unexpected proposals that would push significantly beyond what the previous White House achieved.
Mr. Biden, who in tone and substance is one of the most centrist candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, has insisted he is no moderate when it comes to protecting the environment, though progressives have been skeptical. Polls show that fighting climate change is a top priority for Democratic voters, and Mr. Biden selected the issue for his second policy rollout, after an education plan he released last week.
“On day one, Biden will sign a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track,” his campaign wrote. “He will not only recommit the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change — he will go much further.”
Mr. Biden’s plan calls for the United States to entirely eliminate its net emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution by 2050, the same goal put forth in the Green New Deal, the sweeping climate change proposal championed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
By comparison, Mr. Biden’s former boss, President Barack Obama, had pledged to the world that the United States would lower its emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
Mr. Biden would also call for an investment of $1.7 trillion over 10 years into clean energy and environmental justice programs, designed to help minorities and poor people disproportionately harmed by pollution, paid for by a rollback of President Trump’s tax breaks for corporations.
“This definitely goes further than the Obama administration in terms of aspiration,” said Robert N. Stavins, an environmental economist at Harvard.
Mr. Biden’s plan is not as ambitious or detailed as those of some of his more environmentally minded competitors, but some of its goals are similar. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who is basing his campaign on fighting climate change, has called for the nation to eliminate its net carbon emissions by 2045.Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has faced criticism from Democratic presidential rivals about his commitment to combating climate change, on Tuesday unveiled a plan centered on reinstating the climate policies of the Obama administration — but he included some unexpected proposals that would push significantly beyond what the previous White House achieved.