Former Vice President and current presidential candidate Joe Biden has unveiled the environmental policy he would try to enact if he were elected president, and he promised that it will “go well beyond” former President Barack Obama’s own environmental policy.
This release is an apparent attempt by Biden to refute arguments by other Democratic presidential hopefuls like Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) who have claimed that Biden is too moderate on environmental policy.
Here’s what we know.
In his announcement on his website, Biden said that he believed the Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) “is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.”
Although he did not mention some of the plan’s more extreme measures such as “upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency,” Biden argued that the Green New Deal “powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of” his own plan. These, he said were that “the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge” and that “our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected.”
He promised that as soon as he was elected he would “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” to make sure that the United States has “a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050” — a goal of the Green New Deal.
He also said he would “demand that Congress enacts legislation” to add to these executive orders. For perspective, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, roughly 11 percent of U.S. energy consumption and 17 percent of U.S. electrical generation came from renewable sources in 2017.
An initial FAQ sheet of the Green New Deal released by Ocasio-Cortez’s office but later dismissed by her as a draft released by a “staffer that had a very bad day at work” admitted that “[e]ven if every billionaire and company came together and were willing to pour all the resources at their disposal into this investment, the aggregate value of the investments they could make would not be sufficient” to fund the proposals of the Green New Deal. Biden did not volunteer how his Green New Deal proposal would be funded, apart from “reducing incentive for tax havens” and removing “loopholes” and “tax cuts for corporations.”
Predictably, Biden promised to rejoin the Paris climate accord, a signature achievement of the Obama administration that President Donald Trump pulled out of soon after he was inaugurated. He also promised to “[m]ake future bilateral U.S.-China agreements on carbon mitigation.” China has more than twice the amount of carbon emissions as the United States.
In addition to promising to enacting executive orders to push his climate agenda once in office, Biden said that climate change was a “national security priority.”
When Trump failed to get the funding he requested from Congress for border security, he declared a national emergency in February to divert resources from existing projects. At the time, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) urged Trump not to do this, warning that “a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal.”