Two trillion dollars. That is the amount former Vice President and presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” Plan will allocate to catalyze the recovery of the American economy from COVID-19 and tackle climate change, two of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. In a nation where the current presidential administration has openly denied science, in regards to both the climate crisis and the pandemic, and skirted several vital environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act, it is about time that the aforementioned issues receive the attention they deserve.
Biden does just this in his pledge of unprecedented investments in a comprehensive policy proposal to “build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future.” To pay for such a plan, he presents the use of stimulus money and a raise in the corporate income tax rate from 21% to 28%, to ensure that the wealthiest citizens are paying their fair share. Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, a renowned environmentalist who previously ran a climate-focused campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, describes Biden’s initiative to chart the United States on an “an irreversible path” to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 as “visionary.”
One of the main focuses of Biden’s plan is to steer the U.S. towards a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. He aims to do this by implementing smaller goals such as having all American-built buses be zero-emission buses by 2030 and investing in electric vehicle production, producing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations in the process. Biden also plans on employing tax incentives to encourage competition in the power sector which will create countless jobs in producing solar, wind, and other renewable energies. Although many may argue that Biden’s plan will leave behind thousands of Americans who work in the fossil fuel industry, the former Vice President hopes to shift the focus of these communities to become hubs in the manufacturing process of the renewable energy industry instead.
Biden’s proposal also promises to revitalize America’s crumbling infrastructure and modernize the auto and transit industry. To create sustainable infrastructure and lay a new foundation for sustainable growth, Biden will refurbish at least 4 million buildings to meet the highest standards for energy efficiency and weatherize 2 million homes, creating over 1 million construction and manufacturing jobs. The presumptive Democratic nominee also plans on spurring manufacturing in the auto industry by upgrading 3 million vehicles in government fleets. Although some may argue that such investments would perpetuate America’s dependency on cars, Biden has already proposed a clean and safe cross-country rail system to allow for more accessible rail travel in addition to Amtrak, alleviate vehicular dependencies, and lower harmful greenhouse gas emissions caused by widespread auto travel. In fact, the greenhouse gas effects for railway transport is 80% less per kilometer when compared to cars.
Biden also ensures that environmental policy is inclusive and empowers citizens of all races and socio-economic backgrounds. With the recent growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, it is only right that any comprehensive climate plan addresses the intersectional nature of the climate justice movement with the racial justice movement. Biden’s proposal does this by establishing an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the U.S. Department of Justice, which would implement a data-driven climate and economic justice screening tool to identify disadvantaged communities.
His proposal will also foster a new generation of women and people of color scientists by prioritizing their hiring for his newly founded Advanced Research Projects Agency. Additionally, due to the prominence of environmentally racist infrastructure throughout the country, such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Biden guarantees that disadvantaged communities who currently suffer from these infrastructures will receive around 40% of benefits in clean energy, transit, housing, and infrastructure.
At a time where the U.S. economy is suffering from COVID-19, the U.S. population is conflicted by racism and violence, and the country as a whole is slowly nearing a bleak future with the climate crisis, Biden’s plan invests in revolutionary measures to solve all three of these issues. By focusing on a carbon pollution-free power sector, sustainable infrastructure that will create millions of jobs, and policies that empower people of color, the former Vice President will mitigate all of the aforementioned issues at once, brightening the future of our country.