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Vice President Joe Biden gives remarks at the U.S. - China Climate Leaders Summit, held at the JW Marriott hotel, in Los Angeles, California, Sept. 16, 2015. Also in attendance is Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Clean Power

Unpacking The Ridin’ With Biden Plan For Earth Justice, Social Justice, & Racial Justice

Joe Biden has released a plan that focuses on climate change and renewable energy. Here are a few details.

Smart people set a goal, then make a carefully crafted plan designed to accomplish that goal. Then they put their plan into action, notice if it is working, and make adjustments to the plan. Ignorant people never make plans. They just wing it and hope everything turns out okay.

Joe Biden Climate Plan

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Joe Biden, who is always referred to these days as “the presumptive presidential candidate of the Democratic party,” knows making a plan is important, so he has engaged with a number of people and organizations over the past few weeks to figure out what his plan for governing America will be, should his campaign be successful. Let’s first take a look at two parts of that plan that will be of interest to CleanTechnica readers — climate change and renewable energy.

  • Ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050. On day one, Biden will sign a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track. And, he will demand that Congress enacts legislation in the first year of his presidency that: 1) establishes an enforcement mechanism that includes milestone targets no later than the end of his first term in 2025, 2) makes a historic investment in clean energy and climate research and innovation, 3) incentivizes the rapid deployment of clean energy innovations across the economy, especially in communities most impacted by climate change.
  • Build a stronger, more resilient nation. On day one, Biden will make smart infrastructure investments to rebuild the nation and to ensure that our buildings, water, transportation, and energy infrastructure can withstand the impacts of climate change. Every dollar spent toward rebuilding our roads, bridges, buildings, the electric grid, and our water infrastructure will be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand a changing climate. As President, Biden will use the convening power of government to boost climate resilience efforts by developing regional climate resilience plans, in partnership with local universities and national labs, for local access to the most relevant science, data, information, tools, and training.
  • Rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change. Climate change is a global challenge that requires decisive action from every country around the world. Joe Biden knows how to stand with America’s allies, stand up to adversaries, and level with any world leader about what must be done. He will not only recommit the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change – he will go much further than that. He will lead an effort to get every major country to ramp up the ambition of their domestic climate targets. He will make sure those commitments are transparent and enforceable, and stop countries from cheating by using America’s economic leverage and power of example. He will fully integrate climate change into our foreign policy and national security strategies, as well as our approach to trade.
  • Stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities. Vulnerable communities are disproportionately impacted by the climate emergency and pollution. The Biden Administration will take action against fossil fuel companies and other polluters who put profit over people and knowingly harm our environment and poison our communities’ air, land, and water, or conceal information regarding potential environmental and health risks. The Biden plan will ensure that communities across the country from Flint, Michigan to Harlan, Kentucky to the New Hampshire Seacoast have access to clean, safe drinking water. And he’ll make sure the development of solutions is an inclusive, community-driven process.
  • Fulfill our obligation to workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and subsequent decades of economic growth. This is support they’ve earned for fueling our country’s industrial revolution and decades of economic growth. We’re not going to leave any workers or communities behind.

Half A Loaf & A Little More

What you will notice here is no mention of The Green New Deal or Medicare For All, ideas that resonate strongly with progressive voters. What you will find is a plan to honor both in spirit while avoiding pronouncements that the rabid right can pounce on and label as dirty rotten socialism. Not all progressives are pleased with the Biden plan, but leaders of groups such as the Sunrise Movement acknowledge the plan goes far enough — even though it could have gone further. In order to promote an agenda, you must first win an election. Politics is the art of compromise, even when some of those compromises are painful.

In an e-mail, Varshini Prakash, a leader of the Sunrise Movement who spent the past three weeks meeting with the Biden campaign, said,

“I never anticipated we would walk out of this process with all the commitments we needed to ensure a livable future for my generation, and I know that there are still influences in the Democratic Party establishment that hold us back. But I also hoped that by participating, I would be able to bring the power our movement has built to deliver progress and commitments we could hold a future Biden administration accountable to, while continuing to push for more of what is necessary.

“I am pleased to say we did just that. We are now leaving these policy discussions with recommendations that, if fully implemented, will make Joe Biden’s climate plan considerably more ambitious, equitable, and urgent than what was on the table just a few weeks ago. The results of the climate task force — combined with the results of the other task forces on the economy, education, healthcare, criminal justice, and immigration — are pushing Biden’s platform in a significantly more progressive direction that is much more in line with our ultimate vision for a Green New Deal.”

Prakash told Vox, “Particularly on climate, I think we actually made far more progress than I think I even anticipated In large part, that was because many of the advisers on climate on Biden’s side were also equally amenable to ambitious action as many people on the Bernie side.”

Bernie Sanders echoed those sentiments in a statement of his own. “Though the end result is not what I or my supporters would have written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country.”

Earth Justice = Social Justice = Racial Justice

Our position at CleanTechnica is that Earth justice = social justice = racial justice. In the past month alone, America has seen a tremendous ferment in our society in support of racial justice, as several court decisions have promoted Earth justice by ruling against oil pipelines, and in support of social justice by recognizing the rights of Indigenous people for the first time since the Trail of Tears left a permanent stain on the history of America.

If the Biden plan is implemented, America will once again become a global leader on how to address the looming issue of a warming planet in an adult manner instead of the puerile, hide under the covers approach adopted by the current maladministration. Rather than being a pariah nation that brings demonstrations of clean coal technology to global climate change conferences, it will regain its status as a leader in the world community when it comes to addressing the most critical challenge facing all humanity.

Of all the Democratic candidates who expressed an interest in running for president this year, Joe Biden was many people’s last choice. But his willingness to be nudged to the left of center by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the Sunrise Movement shows he can be a champion for many of the ideas that progressives in America value most highly. No one can wish for a continuation of the present regime in which no lives matter except those who spend all day every day catering to the putative president’s insatiable ego.

With Biden, America has a chance. Without him, it has no chance of being anything but a plantation society in which rich white people live in splendid isolation while the rest of us toil away in powerless obscurity. The choice is yours in November. Move forward or take a giant step back. Which will it be?

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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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