WASHINGTON, August 22 (Reuters) - Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders unveiled a climate change strategy on Thursday that would mobilize $16.3 trillion to help the U.S. generate 100% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and achieve “full decarbonization” by 2050.
The plan would “launch a decade of the Green New Deal,” a 10-year federal “mobilization” that would factor climate change into every policy action from immigration to foreign policy while promising to create 20 million jobs in the process.
The plan outlines dozens of policies aimed aggressively moving the United States off of fossil fuels in the electricity, transportation and building sectors, restoring U.S. leadership and financial aid under the Paris Climate Agreement and pouring trillions of dollars to assist fossil fuel workers and vulnerable minority communities in the transition to a green economy.
It bans the practice of fracking to extract natural gas and oil, the import and export of fossil fuels and sets a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals.
“As President, Bernie Sanders will boldly embrace the moral imperative of climate change and mobilize the political will necessary for a wholesale transformation of our society, with massive investments in sustainable energy, energy efficiency, and a transformation of our transportation system,” his plan says.
Sanders plan comes after several of his Democratic rivals - including Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee, Beto O’ Rourke and Cory Booker, unveiled their detailed climate change strategies aiming to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, responding to the growing importance of the issue to Democratic and younger voters.
More than half of the two dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls have endorsed or embraced the Green New Deal, a Congressional resolution introduced by rising star Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, which calls for a 10-year, government-driven mobilization to decarbonize the economy through investments in clean energy, as well as social and economic justice programs.
The Green New Deal has become a political target of President Donald Trump - who denies human-caused climate change - and Republicans in Congress who call the plan socialist and radical and extremely expensive.
Sanders said his own Green New Deal plan will “pay for itself over 15 years” by raising taxes and fees on fossil fuel companies, through revenue generated by renewable energy produced by federal power authorities, over $1 trillion in scaling back military spending and from income tax collected from the 20 million new jobs it says the plan will create.
Sanders’ plan would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure the United States cuts its greenhouse gas emissions 71% below 2017 levels by 2030, and assists non-China developing countries with financial aid to reduce their emissions 36% below 2017 levels by 2030.
It would restore U.S. leadership to carry out the goals of the Paris climate agreement, which Trump said the U.S. would formally leave in 2020. It commits $200 billion to the U.N. Green Climate Fund to help poorer nations develop cleanly and cope with wilder weather and rising seas. The fund initially received more than $10 billion in pledges but Trump refused to deliver two-thirds of the $3-billion promise made by his predecessor Barack Obama.
In order to achieve 100% renewables in 10 years, it would create a fifth federal Power Marketing Administration to transmit power to distribution municipal and public utilities, and spend $1.5 trillion to build out of more renewable energy and $852 billion to boost energy storage capacity.
The plan also calls for federal mandates to spur the electrification of the transportation and building sectors, which would drastically reduce the use of oil, natural gas and propane.
It calls for a transition to 100% electric vehicles, providing $2 trillion in grants to low- and moderate-income families to trade in their fossil fuel-dependent vehicles for new electric vehicles and $85.6 billion to build a national electric vehicle charging infrastructure network.
It would also set a federal mandate through the Department of Energy to ensure that all new buildings would not use natural gas, oil and propane for heating, cooling and cooking, and provides $964 billion for grants to help low and middle income people cope with raised costs.
The plan also commits $1.3 trillion to ensure that workers in the fossil fuel and other carbon intensive industries receive strong benefits, a living wage, training, and job placement as the country moves away from fossil fuels.
It would also create a $40 billion Climate Justice Resiliency Fund to help vulnerable communities like senior citizens and Native American tribes attain jobs, resilient infrastructure, economic development. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)