Biden Climate Task Force Releases Its Climate Policy Recommendations

Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden speak before a Democratic presidential primary debate in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25, 2020.

Image: Matt Rourke / AP file

After the New York Times reported that the proposal would be forthcoming, yesterday, allies of both former Vice President Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders released a joint set of policy recommendations to tackle the climate crisis. The recommendations signal a commitment to cooperation among the progressive wing of the party with the more mainstream base.

Going forward, the recommendations will be submitted to the Democratic National Committee’s party committee as a “starting point” for their consideration, the Biden campaign said. Biden will review and likely adopt many of the recommendations though it’s unclear if progressive voters think they go far enough. For instance, the plan calls for the expansion of next-generation nuclear power, something that climate activist groups like the Sunrise Movement have been hesitant to support in the past.

Why This Matters: The stated goals of the Biden climate task force are more ambitious than what the former Vice President initially released as part of his climate plan. Chief among them is the modernization of the U.S. electric grid to ensure that it can be powered through clean energy sources. This will be a necessary component of any clean energy future but also a massive undertaking that will surely span multiple presidential administrations. This is an important goal for Democrats to set and work toward, despite the many challenges they’ll face working to implement it.

The Recommendations: The core of the policy proposals is the aim to eliminate carbon pollution from power plants by 2035 through technology-neutral standards for clean energy and energy efficiency.

To achieve this it’s proposed that Democrats dramatically expand solar and wind energy deployment through community-based and utility-scale systems.

  • In addition to installing 500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems, and 60,000 made-in-America wind turbines.

As we mentioned previously, the proposal calls for a modernization of the entire electric grid by investing in interstate transmission projects which would include the build-out of sustainable and resilient energy grids in rural America and in tribal areas lacking energy infrastructure.

Additionally, the task sets out a national goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030, on the pathway to creating a 100 percent clean building sector. Within five years, tens of billions of dollars in private-sector investment will be incentivized to retrofit four million buildings. This also entails making energy-saving upgrades to up to two million low-income households and affordable and public housing units within five years.

Other Stated Goals:

  •  Affirm California’s statutory authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own emissions standards for cars and trucks.
  • Support private adoption of affordable low-pollution and zero-emission vehicles with the goal of installing at least 500,000 public charging stations from coast to coast.
  • A build-out of a clean, equitable, and globally competitive manufacturing sector.
  • The establishment partnership with farmers to make the American agriculture sector the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions.
  • Create an environmental justice fund that addresses legacy pollution as well as a goal to remediate Superfund sites.
  • The reversal of the Trump Administration’s harmful rollbacks of protections for national monuments.
  • Support the advancement of technologies that help industries decarbonize including carbon capture and advanced nuclear.
  • Rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement as well as create and strengthen other international commitments on climate and pollution.

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