Last week Democratic Presidential candidates Tom Steyer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand both issued impressively detailed and comprehensive climate change plans.  Senator Gillibrand rolled out her plan on Medium, calling it a climate change “moonshot” and pledging to phase out fossil fuels and be carbon neutral by 2050 or sooner and promising to spend $10T of public and private funds to do it, with a strong emphasis on addressing climate change on farms and in rural areas, cleaning our air and water including PFAS contamination in drinking water, and helping front line communities and displaced workers.  Steyer’s $2T plan is also ambitious and strategic, with an emphasis on justice-based actions to clean our air, to drive us toward clean energy and climate-smart infrastructure investments, to reach carbon neutrality by 2045, pushing power down to communities to drive solutions, and promising that the U.S. will also lead the world and build in resilience.

Why This Matters:  With each new plan, the candidates are refining and improving the ideas and the overall debate on climate change within the Democratic Party — taking it beyond bumper sticker slogans and putting more meat on the bones of what a Democratic governing agenda would look like with climate action at the center of it.  As Mike Allen said in Axios on Saturday, this is climate change’s crucial moment.  Climate change IS changing our daily lives – in ways small and also cataclysmic, and knowing that it will only get worse, perhaps the groundswell for action will grow large enough to make a difference in the U.S. and around the globe.  We hope so.  Because all these issues matter, and now they matter to more and more of the public, and our leaders see that and are responding.  Hallelujah!

Gillibrand’s Climate Moonshot

Gillibrand has 7 top-line planks in her climate plan.

  • Net Zero carbon emissions no later than 2050, and zero-carbon, clean electricity by 2030.
  • Put a price on carbon ($52/mt) and use that money to fund clean energy transition, and hold polluters accountable.
  • Build a green jobs economy with a fund to help displaced workers, and to bring jobs to rural and hard-hit areas that are in decline and manufacturing jobs are now scarce.
  • Prioritize rural advancement of climate solutions, make sure front line community members are at the table in building the new economy, change our food systems, and make the energy grid more resilient.
  • Lead a clean energy international space race to get the world to go net-zero on carbon emissions.
  • Protect clean air, clean water and public lands, including ending fracking and drilling on public lands and cleaning up our unsafe drinking water supplies.

Steyer’s Justice-Centered Climate Framework

Tom Steyer has spent several years funding efforts to move to clean energy and address climate change and now as a candidate he has a detailed framework that builds on that experience with five planks.

  • Justice-based pollution reduction targets and actions, including net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 and safe and healthy air by 2030.
  • A people-powered economy driven by grassroots planning and a civilian climate corps, that will give communities the tools and resources they need to build the clean energy and healthy climate transformation from the ground up.
  • Transform the extraction economy into a regenerative economy by ending the giveaways of public resources to polluters and instead protect federal lands and natural resources and expand national parks and monuments.
  • Invest in America by funding climate-smart infrastructure by spending $2T in public money and galvanizing trillions more in private investment for clean transportation, water, operational systems, the energy grid, farms and rural development, building retrofits, maintenance, affordable housing, universal broadband, and more.
  • Climate-secure America by building resilience to disasters, protecting our troops and national security, and restoring America’s global leadership on climate change action.

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