Jun 07, 2019 08:55 AM EDT
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is pitching a more than five-trillion-dollar climate proposal that he says would lead the US to net zero emission of carbon pollution by 2050. The former vice president calls for 1.7 trillion in federal spending over 10 years, with the rest of the investments coming from the private sector. Biden proposes covering the taxpayer costs by repealing the corporate tax cuts that President Donald Trump signed in 2017, while eliminating existing subsidies to the fossil fuel companies.
"I will lead America and the world, not only to confront the crisis in front us but to seize the opportunity it presents," Biden says in a campaign video posted online, warning that failure to act threatens "the livability of our planet" and will accelerate natural disasters that are "already happening."
As president, Biden says he'd start by reversing many actions of the Trump administration, then turn to necessary congressional action and executive branch regulation, while using US political and economic muscle to limit emissions from other nations.
He acknowledges that such an overhaul would affect existing US energy workers-coal miners and power plant operators especially. He calls first for pension and benefit protections for all such workers and promises an "unprecedented investment" in retraining and redevelopment in those communities.
Biden also envisions expanding the nation's railways, theoretically reducing demand for car and airline travel. Among his ideas for automobiles, Biden calls for fuel economy standards "beyond" the Obama administration's goal of about 54 miles per gallon. The Trump administration has rolled that back, saying the regulation would increase auto prices. Biden also pitches expanded tax credits for purchases of electric vehicles, along with 500,000 more public charging stations nationwide by the end of 2030.
He calls for reducing carbon output from the nation's buildings by more than 50 percent by 2035, through new construction and tax breaks for retrofitting existing commercial and residential properties. The Energy Department would be tasked with tightening efficiency standards for household appliances and equipment.
Biden also mentions nuclear energy as a source the federal government should boost with tax incentives. However, that could put him at odds with some activists on the left who cast nuclear energy as too dangerous.
On the international front, Biden calls out China as the world's biggest coal polluter and says he'd hinge all future bilateral deals with Beijing on carbon reductions. Biden also urges an international alliance that would help other nations afford low-carbon development and pitches a global moratorium on Arctic offshore drilling.
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