Green Jobs and New Technology: A Look at Biden and Warren's Latest Climate Plans

Both plans draw on the progressive Green New Deal, prioritize environmental justice, and would be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes.
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Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren waves during a campaign town hall at George Mason University on May 16th, 2019, in Fairfax, Virginia.

Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren waves during a campaign town hall at George Mason University on May 16th, 2019, in Fairfax, Virginia.

Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden, the former vice president, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren both released ambitious climate policies on Tuesday.

Biden, who has previously been criticized by some on the left for being too centrist, has claimed that he will take a progressive stance on climate change. His new plan expands policies promoted by President Barack Obama, and incorporates elements of the Green New Deal. This is only the second concrete policy proposal from Biden's campaign, following an education plan released last week.

Warren, meanwhile, has released a variety of comprehensive plans that are limited in scope and target key issues, many of them related to the environment. Other plans released by the Warren campaign have addressed issues such as increasing taxation on the wealthy and decreasing the cost of college. The plan released on Tuesday deals with green jobs.

Democratic voters have identified climate change as a key issue for the 2020 election. In response, members of the crowded field vying for the Democratic presidential nomination have rolled out their respective climate plans. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders have each staked out prominent spots for voters prioritizing climate change in 2020.

Here's what Warren and Biden are advocating for in their newest proposals.

Lowering Emissions and Developing Clean Energy

In his plan, Biden proposes that the U.S. eliminate its net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. In addition, the plan calls for an investment of $1.7 trillion over the course of 10 years, incentivizing the research, development, and deployment of clean energy technology.

Actionable policy items for instituting these changes are not clearly outlined. But the plan does include an "enforcement mechanism" with "milestone targets no later than 2025," possibly alluding to some sort of tax on carbon dioxide pollution. The plan also encourages the United States to pressure other countries to lower their carbon emissions by imposing tariffs on goods imported from high carbon-polluting economies, like China.

The U.S. would also rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement under Biden's plan and hold a summit for the world's largest and most polluting economies to collaborate on more aggressive carbon reduction goals.

Similarly, Warren's plan seeks to significantly increase research and development in clean energy in what she calls the "Green Apollo Project." She also calls for a mass mobilization to make clean and renewable energy and technology products.

Creating an Equitable Transition to Clean Energy

Biden's plan includes programs specifically for marginalized people and communities who experience disproportionate environmental pollution, as well as increasing economic opportunities for those employed in the fossil fuel economy, such as workers in the coal and oil industry. Warren's plan would also facilitate the transition to a cleaner economy, prioritizing the development of new skills and jobs for the communities that have been most affected by the loss of large segments of the manufacturing industry.

In her plan, Warren invokes the language of the Green New Deal, calling for a "fair and just transition for all communities and workers." She advocates that marginalized communities be on the frontlines of this structural economic overhaul.

Warren has previously taken a strong stance on environmental justice, including advocating for equal access to public lands.

Funding

Biden's plan will require a federal investment of $1.7 trillion with additional funding from the private sector, and his campaign estimates that state and local funding will total more than $5 trillion. The funding would come from the elimination of tax breaks for corporations and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry that were instituted under President Donald Trump.

Warren's plan for new green jobs is slated to cost roughly $2 trillion, and her other environmental and climate proposals are also expected to cost trillions. Warren writes that her green manufacturing plan will be covered by her previously outlined tax plan, a proposal that would end fossil fuel subsidies and eliminate tax loopholes.

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