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US Candidates Biden and Warren announce multi-trillion dollar climate plans, how do they compare?

Two of the leading Democratic presidential candidates, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, both unveiled new plans today that aim to address the climate crisis through major investments in clean energy.

Biden, who was recently given a D- by Greenpeace for his stances on climate, has released his “plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice.” The plan calls for a 100% clean energy economy, and for the US to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

Biden is looking to roll back the Trump tax cuts to fund the plan. From his website:

The Biden plan will make a historic investment in our clean energy future and environmental justice, paid for by rolling back the Trump tax incentives that enrich corporations at the expense of American jobs and the environment. Biden’s climate and environmental justice proposal will make a federal investment of $1.7 trillion over the next ten years, leveraging additional private sector and state and local investments to total to more than $5 trillion.

Beyond the call for a 100% clean energy economy, Biden’s plan is broken down into four other main areas:

  • Build a stronger, more resilient nation.
  • Rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change.
  • Stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities.
  • Fulfill our obligation to workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and subsequent decades of economic growth.

Biden also says he would take “day one” actions to require aggressive new methane pollution limits, preserve and implement the existing (and endangered) Clean Air Act, and to double down on “the liquid fuels of the future” (advanced biofuels), among other initiatives.

Biden is also aiming to accelerate EV adoption, with a plan to deploy more than 500,000 new public charging stations by 2030. He’s also calling to fully restore the electric vehicle tax credit.

Warren’s Plans

While Biden is a frontrunner in many polls right now, there’s a long, long way to go, and Elizabeth Warren is also firmly settling in as a top candidate. In a Medium post today, Warren introduced her $2 trillion Green Manufacturing Plan for America, which aims to create more than a million jobs.

Warren’s plan has three major elements:

  • Green Apollo Program  —  a commitment to leading the world in developing and manufacturing the revolutionary clean energy technology the world will need
  • Green Industrial Mobilization  —  a commitment to using the full power of the federal procurement process to spur innovation and create demand for American-made clean energy products
  • Green Marshall Plan —  a commitment to using all the tools in our diplomatic and economic arsenal to encourage other countries to purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology

Like Biden’s website, Warren breaks down the elements of her plan further, noting that the $400 billion Green Apollo Program would create a “National Institutes of Clean Energy modeled after the National Institutes of Health.”

Her Green Industrial Mobilization plan would call for a $1.5 trillion commitment to federal procurement of “clean, green, American products over the next ten years,” including zero emissions vehicles and energy storage technology.

The Green Marshall Plan would use $100 billion to work with other countries on purchasing and deploying “American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy technology.”

Warren also has a plan for how she’s going to pay for it:

If people claim we can’t afford to combat climate change, they’re wrong. According to the independent Moody’s analysis of my plan, nearly its entire cost is covered by my Real Corporate Profits Tax — a tax that ensures that the very largest and most profitable American corporations don’t pay zero corporate income tax — ending federal oil and gas subsidies, and closing corporate tax loopholes that promote moving good jobs overseas.

Electrek’s Take

Biden has already endured plenty of criticism for his climate stances — or lack thereof — especially as a recent report claimed he’d be introducing a “middle ground” climate policy. So it’s fair to say this plan comes out of the pressure he’s faced thus far. We’d certainly like more specifics — for instance, carbon capture and nuclear power are mentioned, and we’re not sure if the vision is focused enough as of yet. But it’s a comprehensive plan which says the “Green New Deal is a crucial framework.”

Warren writes that her plan is how she’ll implement the Green New Deal, and there’s a strong focus on American manufacturing and research when it comes to clean energy — not just domestically, but how it could be used to the country’s advantage on a global scale if it’s made into a position of strength.

Plans will evolve and some will prefer certain aspects of one plan to another. But we’re glad we’ve reached a place now where the candidates all seem to understand (whether they came to that on their own or due to outside pressure) the necessity of putting something forward that emphasizes the significance of a nationwide transition to clean energy, for both the future of the country and the world.

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Phil Dzikiy is an Editor/Writer with Electrek/9to5Mac. Tips: