Joe Biden unveiled a wide-ranging climate and energy platform for his 2020 campaign Tuesday, vowing to go "well beyond" former President Obama's policies at a time when he's facing skepticism on the left.
The big picture: It calls for achieving net-zero U.S. greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. That top-level goal is within range of Gov. Jay Inslee's detailed plan, which calls for net-zero "as fast as possible" and by 2045 at the latest.
Why it matters: Biden is the early Democratic frontrunner and the stakes are high as President Trump unwinds existing policies.
- The proposal follows dire scientific warnings in recent years about immense harm if the world fails to steeply cut emissions that are still rising.
Yes, but: Several key portions would require legislation. That's a big lift unless Democrats regain the Senate, and ease filibuster rules or use special budget-related legislation that could allow provisions to pass with a simple majority.
On the legislative front, Biden calls for a bill that creates "legally binding" emissions cuts with an "enforcement mechanism" to achieve the 2050 goal.
- It says "polluters must bear the full cost of the carbon pollution," and the campaign confirmed to Axios this would include a price on carbon.
- It calls for big spending increases in low-carbon energy and resilient infrastructure funded by reversing the Trump administration's 2017 corporate tax cuts.
- It proposes a suite of tax code changes. They range from expanded electric vehicle credits for low-carbon manufacturing to ending fossil fuel-related incentives.
When it comes to executive actions, the proposal vows steps such as:
- "Aggressive" methane limits for the oil-and-gas sector.
- "Rigorous" new vehicle economy standards aimed at ultimately ensuring 100% of light- and medium-duty sales are EVs, although no date is provided.
- Tougher appliance and building efficiency standards.
- Several social justice and equity provisions, such as stepped up enforcement of pollution that affects communities of color and the poor.
- Various steps to help fossil fuel workers "impacted by the climate transformation."
On the international front, Biden is vowing to go further than keeping the U.S. in the Paris climate deal. It calls for:
- A "major diplomatic push" to have other nations increase their emissions-cutting ambition.
- New policies to weave climate into trade policy, along with get-tough language on China — provisions that could help gain support from labor, a key Biden constituency.
- "Carbon adjustment fees or quotas on carbon-intensive goods" from countries that are "failing to meet" their climate obligations.