| 21.1°C Dublin

Biden announces $2tn plan to fight climate change

'Plan is a critical investment in health and vitality'

Close

Covid opportunity: Crisis offers chance to build a stronger more resilient US economy Joe Biden (pictured) said yesterday in Delaware. Photo: Reuters

Covid opportunity: Crisis offers chance to build a stronger more resilient US economy Joe Biden (pictured) said yesterday in Delaware. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

Covid opportunity: Crisis offers chance to build a stronger more resilient US economy Joe Biden (pictured) said yesterday in Delaware. Photo: Reuters

Joe Biden released a $2 trillion plan yesterday aimed at combating climate change and spurring economic growth in part by overhauling America's energy industry, with a proposal to achieve entirely carbon pollution-free power by 2035.

"These are the most critical investments we can make for the long-term health and vitality of both the American economy and the physical health and safety of the American people," Mr Biden said during remarks to reporters near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

Mr Biden acknowledged that the economy is in "crisis" because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but said it offers "an incredible opportunity, not just to build back to where we were before, but better, stronger, more resilient and more prepared for the challenges that lie ahead."

The plan marks his latest effort to build out a legislative agenda with measures that could animate progressives who may be sceptical of Mr Biden, who waged a more centrist campaign during the Democratic primary.

It reflects ideas embraced by some of Mr Biden's more progressive allies during the primary, like Jay Inslee, whose campaign centred on the issue of climate change.

But it doesn't go as far as the Green New Deal, the sweeping proposal from progressives in Congress that calls for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the economy by 2030.

His plan does align with a climate bill spearheaded by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in reducing emissions to zero by 2050, however. And it goes farther than that bill on achieving a carbon-neutral power sector. House Democrats' proposal sets a 2040 deadline for that goal, while Mr Biden's aims to achieve it five years faster.

In the plan, Mr Biden pledges to spend $2 trillion over four years to promote his energy proposals, a significant acceleration of the $1.7 trillion over 10 years he proposed spending in his climate plan during the primary.

The proposal doesn't include specifics on how it would be paid for. Senior campaign officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss strategy said it would require a mix of tax increases on corporations and the wealthy and deficit spending aimed at stimulating the economy.

Mr Biden made no mention of banning dirtier-burning coal or prohibiting fracking, a method of extracting oil and gas that triggered a natural gas boom in the United States over the last decade. The issue is politically sensitive in some key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, and Mr Biden limited his opposition to new fracking permits during the primary.

His new plan instead describes easing out burning oil, gas and coal through more efficient vehicles, public transport, buildings and power plants.

Instead of a ban on climate-damaging fossil fuels, he talks about carbon capture technologies to catch coal and petroleum pollution from power plant smokestacks. Mr Biden also embraces nuclear power, unlike some of his Democratic primary opponents. He calls for pumping up research on still-developing power technologies like hydrogen power and grid-size storage to stash power from solar and wind, overcoming a key drawback of those carbon-free energy sources now.

The plan places a heavy emphasis on updating America's infrastructure and includes investments in improving energy efficiency in buildings and housing as well as promoting production of electric vehicles and conservation efforts in agriculture.

It also includes a portion focused on environmental justice, including a requirement that 40pc of the money he wants to spend on clean energy deployment, reduction of legacy pollution and other investments go to historically disadvantaged communities.

Mr Biden framed his latest policy proposal as offering a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump on both job creation and the economy.

"When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is 'hoax.' When I think about climate change, what I think of is jobs," he said.

Irish Independent