By JUANA SUMMERS
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has released a $16.3 trillion climate plan meant to build on the so-called Green New Deal and to have United States using renewable energy throughout its economy by 2050.
The latest proposal is in keeping with many of Sanders’ previous policy ideas. The Vermont senator had already endorsed the sweeping Democratic proposal to combat climate change and had joined Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to put forward climate legislation. His latest plan provides the most detail yet on how he envisions his climate-change moonshot taking shape if he is elected president.
Sanders describes his plan, released Thursday, as a “ten-year, nationwide mobilization centered on equity and humanity” that would create 20 million new jobs. The Green New Deal resolution, which Ocasio-Cortez put forth with Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, calls on the country to eliminate carbon emissions by 2030 and to shift away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal and replace them with renewable-energy sources such as wind and solar power.
Among Sanders’ ideas is to obtain 100% of the country’s electricity from renewable and zero-emissions power. He is calling for setting aside $2.18 trillion worth of grants to help low- and middle-income families weatherize and retrofit their homes and businesses. This, he estimates, will reduce residential energy consumption by 30%. He would also charge the Energy Department with making sure that both new and existing commercial structures, as well as high-income home owners, meet his administration’s energy-retrofitting goals.
Sanders separately is calling for an overhaul of the nation’s transportation system with spending on electric vehicles, high-speed rail and public transportation. And he is seeking to have $526 billion spent on the U.S. electrical grid.
Scientists and policymakers have been increasingly blaming climate change for recent disasters. The changing climate, for instance, has been seen as a culprit in California’s worsening wildfires, which have killed more than 100 people and destroyed tens of thousands of houses. As scientists warn of the imminent consequences of global warming, the Green New Deal has been a rallying point for liberals in the party’s base as well as Democratic presidential contenders in the crowded field. But Republicans have argued that the plan is too radical and would drive the economy off a cliff and lead to a huge tax increase.
Sanders is the latest Democratic presidential contender to release details of his climate plans.
Former Vice President Joe Biden released a $5 trillion-plus climate proposal that he says would lead the U.S. to net-zero emissions of carbon pollution by 2050, and he is calling for $1.7 trillion in federal spending over 10 years. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed spending $2 trillion on clean energy as part of a Green New Deal. Her Green Apollo Program, for instance, calls for investing in clean-energy research and her Green Marshall Plan is meant to encourage countries to buy and use American-made clean-energy technologies.
Before abandoning his presidential bid Wednesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who had staked his campaign on the issue of climate change, had released a $9 trillion plan to cut emissions. Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke has called for spending $5 trillion over 10 years to combat climate change.
To pay for the $16.3 trillion sought in Sanders’ plan, his campaign is proposing to eliminate existing fossil-fuel subsidies; raise income taxes from the 20 million jobs created by his plan; and, as a result of the creation those jobs, reduce safety-net payments by $1.3 trillion.