2020 hopeful Sen. Michael Bennet releases a conservation-focused climate plan

Photo: Michael Bennet’s office

Following the release of Governor Jay Inslee’s climate plan last week, yesterday Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet released his own version. Titled “America’s Climate Change Plan” the stated goal of the $1 trillion plan is to “reduce emissions in line with the most aggressive targets set by the world’s scientists and achieve 100 percent clean, net-zero emissions as soon as possible, and no later than 2050.” The plan, however, doesn’t give specific policy mechanisms to achieve net-zero emissions and whether they will come from a carbon tax or government mandates. Bennet’s plan does outline the creation of “Climate X Option” to require power providers to offer zero-emission energy to every household and business, which sounds vaguely like a renewable energy mandate. Additionally, his plan seeks to drastically reduce emissions from farming, ranching and conserving nearly a third of U.S. lands.

Highlights of the plan include:

• Support American agriculture to lead the global fight against climate change.

• Establish a historic, national commitment to conserve 30 percent of America’s lands and oceans by 2030, setting an ambitious new conservation target for the world.

• Create a Climate X Option to require power providers to offer zero-emission energy to every household and business, and provide more opportunities for Americans to choose clean vehicles and other technologies.

Launch a 2030 Climate Challenge to enable states to compete for federal infrastructure funding by aggressively reducing emissions and climate risks.

Create a Climate Bank to catalyze $10 trillion in private sector investment in innovation and infrastructure that creates new markets for American businesses not just at home, but also around the world.

• Convene world leaders at a global climate summit in the first 100 days of the Bennet Administration to reassert American leadership and set even more ambitious targets for 2030.

• Initiate a Next Generation Climate Board of Directors comprised of youth leaders to ensure that their energy and ideas are part of the solution.

Bennet’s plan does stand out for his focus on conservation as a driver or broader environmental protection. Conserving 30% of America’s lands and oceans by 2030 is in line with what a growing faction of environmental groups view is the best way to ensure a stable planet via the 30 by 30 planAs CNN reported, Bennet said Monday that he believes what sets his plan apart from Inslee’s and O’Rourke’s is his efforts to create domestic markets to export clean technology from the United States and the focus on connecting conservation to climate change. Noting that “I think it is great that we have a bunch of bold proposals out there. We are going to have a competition of ideas.”

Why This Matters: The Bennet plan is less detailed that Governor Inslee’s or Beto O’Rourke’s. Although progressive groups like the Sunrise Movement haven’t yet responded to his proposal, O’Rourke’s plan was criticized for not being aggressive enough as it set the timeline for decarbonization at 2050, rather than 2030. While Bennet outlines enacting a Climate Challenge to achieve decarbonization on a more expedited timeline, many in the environmental community feel that a national climate action plan should stick to what the latest IPCC report revealed– that we have roughly a decade to take action on decarbonization if we don’t want to see the worst effects of climate change. Regardless, the release of the Bennet plan is solidifying that climate change is a prominent topic in the 2020 presidential primary process. We look forward to seeing more candidates put forth their ideas! 

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