U. S. Sen. Bernie Sanders detailed his plan Monday to combat climate change with the claim that it will cut U.S. carbon pollution by 40 percent by 2030 and by 80 percent by 2050 by putting a tax on carbon pollution. The timing of his announcement coincides during the biggest international climate summit of the decade taking place in Paris.
“It is beyond my comprehension that we can have a Republican Party and Republican candidates who are more concerned about getting huge campaign contributions from the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil and the coal industry than they are about accepting what the overwhelming majority of scientists are saying,” Sanders said on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday. “Climate change is real, caused by human activity and already causing major and devastating problems in our country and around the world.”
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Sanders’ plan, Combatting Climate Change to Save the Planet, states “The scientists are virtually unanimous that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world.”
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Sanders’ Proposed Strategies:
- Reclaim Our Democracy from the Billionaire Fossil Fuel Industry
The proposal states that the fossil fuel industry have spent $2.26 billion in federal lobbying since 2009 and another $330 million in federal campaign contributions. Sanders calls the Citizen’s United case ‘disastrous’ because it allows the fossil fuel industry to be able to pour unlimited amounts of money into the political system without having to disclose how much or where they spend it.
Sanders proposes to overcome the influence of the fossil fuel industry by banning fossil fuels lobbyists from working in the White House, ending subsidies that benefit fossil fuel companies, Create a national environmental and climate justice plan that recognizes the heightened public health risks faced by low-income and minority communities, hold the fossil fuel industry accountable to dangers of climate change and fight to overturn Citizens United.
- Accelerate a Just Transition Away from Fossil Fuels
Sanders’ plan will set a science-based standard for carbon pollution emissions reductions, and put into place a tax on carbon emissions.
- Invest in Clean Sustainable Energy
Sanders supports efforts to develop and deploy clean, sustainable energy technologies like energy efficiency, solar, wind and geothermal to work toward a 100 percent clean energy system. Sanders cites tax credits as the means for making progress thus far in reducing the cost of solar energy and the development of wind farms that now provide enough power for 16.7 million American homes. Sanders also proposes investing in cellulosic ethanol and algae-based fuels and investing in making all American homes more energy efficient.
- Revolutionize Our Electric and Transportation Infrastructure
Sanders says that we need to modernize the electrical grid helps balance higher amounts of clean energy, decreases outages and improves efficiency. Sanders promises that he will build electric vehicle charging stations as a part of improving the electric and transportation infrastructure. He also proposes the building of high-speed passenger and cargo rail.
- Lead the International Community to Solve Climate Change and Prevent International Conflict
Sanders calls climate change a ‘global national security issue’ that threatens vulnerable communities all over the world. Within his first 100 days in office, Sanders will convene a climate summit with the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists and indigenous communities. He wants the U.S. to lead countries in cutting climate change. Predictive of a international climate-fueled conflict, Sanders believes that we must plan for peace now in order to prepare for this sort of dire conflict that is already beginning to unfold in parts of the world.
Carbon Tax & Job Creation
A carbon Tax to reduce emissions and job creation are the two main points Sanders made in his press release announcing his climate policy. There are a number of carbon-tax ideas that have been proposed by environmentalists. The idea of a ‘revenue neutral carbon-tax’ has come to the forefront at the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris, with a talk given by Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, urging students to to their politicians to support a revenue neutral carbon tax. “If countries agree to a carbon tax and it’s real and it’s not super watered-down and weak, we could see a transition that has a 15- to 20-year time frame talk to their politicians about such a proposal,” said Musk.
Sanders claims that his proposal to work toward a 100 percent clean energy system and investment in infrastructure investments can create millions of jobs.
By comparison, instead of laying out her entire plan before the voters, Hillary Clinton’s website says that “In the coming months, Hillary will lay out a comprehensive energy and climate agenda to help America transition to a clean energy economy and meet the global climate crisis.”
Based on her website and press releases, so far we can know that Clinton has one ‘pillar’ with two big goals:
1. Have more than half a billion solar panels installed across the country by the end of her first term.
2. Generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America within 10 years of taking office.
Clinton claims that by achieving these two goals, renewables will be producing at least a third of all electricity generation. In addition, to these two goals of the first pillar, Clinton is proposing a ‘Clean Energy Challenge’ that will form new partnerships with states, cities, and rural communities that are ready to lead.
Clinton’s Climate Change Fact Sheet says that she will be she will outline specifics of the Challenge in the “next few weeks” to include market-based incentives and competition grants to states to address reduce pollution and increase renewables, to have a Solar-X Prize to cut down on the red tape homeowners face in getting solar, to strengthen the electric grid and increase consumer choice, and to expand the Rural Utilities Service of the USDA. The Fact sheet also describes how she will direct government agencies to coordinate to build a clean energy future.
As we wait for Clinton to roll out more specifics on her plan, Sanders’ comprehensive plan revealed this week has received an endorsement by leading environmentalists including 350.org Co-founder Bill McKibben and Environmental Action Policy Director Anthony Rogers-Wright.
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“Bernie’s vision of a transformed America is powerful, because it recognizes both the ecological need and the human priority,” said environmentalist and co-founder of 350.org Bill McKibben.
With an alliance with 300 organizations around the world McKibben’s endorsement will have a powerful impact on the garnering support for Sanders among environmental activists, especially young adult voters. 350.org is organzined from the grassroots with 138 local groups in the U.S. alone. Environmental Action Policy has 800,000 supporters.
“There’s good useful work that we need millions of Americans to do – and he’ll make sure it’s done by the people left out of our economic booms of the past. Even more important than the plan is the credibility of the planner. Bernie has shown with years of committed action that he will not just talk about this stuff on the campaign trail, he will do it in the Oval Office.”
“This platform is an excellent step toward reversing that trend and making progress to save our planet, climate and communities,” said Rogers-Wright. “Senator Sanders once again demonstrates his understanding of how to work alongside communities of color and low-wealth communities fighting disproportionate pollution by companies like Exxon Mobil. The plan is not only rooted in common sense, but also in justice. For these reasons and more, Environmental Action enthusiastically endorses Bernie Sanders’ climate change platform.”