While Trump continues to deny climate change as a “hoax” (one perpetrated by China to hurt US business), minimize the destruction to life and livehood of the wildfires setting the West ablaze that he blamed on California’s “failure” to adequately rake the forest floor, actively denigrate public health experts while promoting conditions for the super-spread of coronavirus, and call for Obama to be jailed for treason, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out on the urgency to address the existential climate crisis and how he would address it.
“The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single one of us…It requires action, not denial. It requires leadership, not scapegoating…
“Our response should be grounded in science. Acting together. All of us. But like with our federal response to COVID-19, the lack of a national strategy on climate change leaves us with patchwork solutions…
“But if Trump gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.
“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburbs will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?
“If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze? ..
“And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.
“Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership.
“It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office — to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack – seen and unseen. Always and without exception. Every time.”
Here is a highlighted transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks as prepared for delivery in Delaware:
As a nation, we face one of the most difficult moments in our history. Four historic crises. All at the same time.
The worst pandemic in over 100 years, that’s killed nearly 200,000 Americans and counting.
The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, that’s cost tens of millions of American jobs and counting.
Emboldened white supremacy unseen since the 1960s and a reckoning on race long overdue.
And the undeniable, accelerating, and punishing reality of climate change and its impact on our planet and our people — on lives and livelihoods — which I’d like to talk about today.
Jill and I continue to pray for everyone in California, Oregon, Washington, and across the West as the devastating wildfires rage on — just as we’ve held in our hearts those who’ve faced hurricanes and tropical storms on our coasts, in Florida, in North Carolina, or like in parts of New Orleans where they just issued an emergency evacuation for Hurricane Sally, that’s approaching and intensifying; Floods and droughts across the Midwest, the fury of climate change everywhere — all this year, all right now.
We stand with our families who have lost everything, the firefighters and first responders risking everything to save others, and the millions of Americans caught between relocating during a pandemic or staying put as ash and smoke pollute the air they breathe.
Think about that.
People are not just worried about raging fires. They are worried about breathing air. About damage to their lungs.
Parents, already worried about Covid-19 for their kids when they’re indoors, are now worried about asthma attacks for their kids when they’re outside.
Over the past two years, the total damage from wildfires has reached nearly $50 Billion in California alone.
This year alone, nearly 5 million acres have burned across 10 states — more acres than the entire state of Connecticut.
And it’s only September. California’s wildfire season typically runs through October.
Fires are blazing so bright and smoke reaching so far, NASA satellites can see them a million miles away in space.
The cost of this year’s damage will again be astronomically high.
But think of the view from the ground, in the smoldering ashes.
Loved ones lost, along with the photos and keepsakes of their memory. Spouses and kids praying each night that their firefighting husband, wife, father, and mother will come home. Entire communities destroyed.
We have to act as a nation. It shouldn’t be so bad that millions of Americans live in the shadow of an orange sky and are left asking if doomsday is here.
I know this feeling of dread and anxiety extends beyond just the fires. We’ve seen a record hurricane season costing billions of dollars. Last month, Hurricane Laura intensified at a near-record rate just before its landfall along Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
It’s a troubling marker not just for an increased frequency of hurricanes, but more powerful and destructive storms. They’re causing record damage after record damage to people’s homes and livelihoods.
And before it intensified and hit the Gulf Coast, Laura ravaged Puerto Rico — where, three years after Hurricane Maria — our fellow Americans are still recovering from its damage and devastation.
Think about that reality.
Our fellow Americans are still putting things back together from the last big storm as they face the next one.
We’ve also seen historic flooding in the Midwest — often compounding the damages delivered by last year’s floods that cost billions dollars in damage.
This past spring Midland, Michigan experienced a flood so devastating — with deadly flash flooding, overrunning dams and roadways, and the displacement of 10,000 residents — that it was considered a once-in-500-year weather event.
But those once-in-many-generations events? They happen every year now.
The past ten years were the hottest decade ever recorded. The Arctic is literally melting. Parts are on fire.
What we’re seeing in America — in our communities — is connected to that.
With every bout with nature’s fury, caused by our own inaction on climate change, more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, on coastlines and farmlands.
It is happening everywhere. It is happening now. It affects us all.
Nearly two hundred cities are experiencing the longest stretches of deadly heat waves in fifty years. It requires them to help their poor and elderly residents adapt to extreme heat to simply stay alive, especially in homes without air conditioning.
Our family farmers in the Midwest are facing historic droughts.
These follow record floods and hurricane-speed windstorms all this year.
It’s ravaged millions of acres of corn, soybeans, and other crops. Their very livelihood which sustained their families and our economy for generations is now in jeopardy. How will they pay their bills this year? What will be left to pass on to their kids?
And none of this happens in a vacuum.
A recent study showed air pollution is linked with an increased risk of death from COVID-19.
Our economy can’t recover if we don’t build back with more resiliency to withstand extreme weather — extreme weather that will only come with more frequency.
The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single one of us. But too often the brunt falls disproportionately on communities of color, exacerbating the need for environmental justice.
These are the interlocking crises of our time.
It requires action, not denial.
It requires leadership, not scapegoating.
It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office — to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack – seen and unseen. Always and without exception. Every time.
Because here’s the deal.
Hurricanes don’t swerve to avoid “blue states.” Wildfires don’t skip towns that voted a certain way.
The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. That’s because it’s not a partisan phenomenon.
And our response should be the same. Grounded in science. Acting together. All of us.
But like with our federal response to COVID-19, the lack of a national strategy on climate change leaves us with patchwork solutions.
I’m speaking from Delaware, the lowest-lying state in the nation, where just last week the state’s Attorney General sued 31 big fossil fuel companies alleging that they knowingly wreaked damage on the climate.
Damage that is plain to everyone but the president.
As he flies to California today, we know he has no interest in meeting this moment.
We know he won’t listen to the experts or treat this disaster with the urgency it demands, as any president should do during a national emergency.
He’s already said he wanted to withhold aid to California — to punish the people of California — because they didn’t vote for him.
This is yet another crisis he won’t take responsibility for.
The West is literally on fire and he blames the people whose homes and communities are burning.
He says, “You gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests.”
This is the same president who threw paper towels to the people of Puerto Rico instead of truly helping them recover and rebuild.
We know his disdain for his own military leaders and our veterans.
Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of our military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.
Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused the record fires, record floods, and record hurricanes.
But if he gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump warns that integration is threatening our suburbs. That’s ridiculous.
But you know what’s actually threatening our suburbs?
Wildfires are burning the suburbs in the West. Floods are wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the Midwest. And hurricanes are imperiling suburban life along our coasts.
If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburbs will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?
If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze?
If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?
We need a president who respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here, and, unless we take urgent action, will soon be more catastrophic.
A president who recognizes, understands, and cares that Americans are dying.
Which makes President Trump’s climate denialism — his disdain of science and facts — all the more unconscionable.
Once again, he fails the most basic duty to this nation.
He fails to protect us.
And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.
What he doesn’t get is that even in crisis, there is nothing beyond our capacity as a country.
And while so many of you are hurting right now, I want you to know that if you give me the honor of serving as your President, we can, and we will, meet this moment with urgency and purpose.
We can and we will solve the climate crisis, and build back better than we were before.
When Donald Trump thinks about climate change he thinks: “hoax.”
I think: “jobs.”
Good-paying, union jobs that put Americans to work building a stronger, more climate resilient nation.
A nation with modernized water, transportation and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather and a changing climate.
When Donald Trump thinks about renewable energy, he sees windmills somehow causing cancer.
I see American manufacturing — and American workers — racing to lead the global market. I also see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and gaining new sources of income in the process.
When Donald Trump thinks about LED bulbs, he says he doesn’t like them because: “the light’s no good. I always look orange.”
I see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing award-winning energy conservation measures.
This will reduce the electricity consumption and save businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.
While he turns us against our allies, I will bring us back into the Paris Agreement. I will put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change. And I will challenge everyone to up the ante on their climate commitments.
Where he reverses the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards, he picks Big Oil companies over the American workers.
I will not only bring the standards back, I will set new, ambitious ones — that our workers are ready to meet.
And I also see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country and American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.
Not only that, the United States owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles — and we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in the United States of America.
All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry.
And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.
Transforming the American electricity sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century. Not to mention the positive benefits to our health and our environment.
We need to get to work right away.
We’ll need scientists at national labs and land-grant universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to improve and innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.
We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them. We’ll need iron workers and welders to install them.
And we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.
We know how to do this.
The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.
We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy, and weatherized more than a million homes.
We will do it again — bigger and faster and better than before.
We’ll also build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three-times over — by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership.
There are thousands of oil and natural gas wells that the oil and gas companies have just abandoned, many of which are leaking toxins.
We can create 250,000 jobs plugging those wells right away — good union jobs for energy workers. This will help sustain communities and protect the environment as well.
We’ll also create new markets for our family farmers and ranchers.
We’ll launch a new, modern day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.
I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. But I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right.
That’s true of the millions of families struggling with the smoke created by these devastating wildfires right now.
But it’s also been true for a generation or more in places — like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware.
Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans — especially Black, Brown, and Native American communities, who too often don’t have clean air and clean water — is not going to be easy.
But it is necessary. And I am committed to doing it.
These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable policies that create jobs, mitigate climate change, and put our nation on the road to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.
Some say that we can’t afford to fix this.
But here’s the thing.
Look around at the crushing consequences of the extreme weather events I’ve been describing. We’ve already been paying for it. So we have a choice.
We can invest in our infrastructure to make it stronger and more resilient, while at the same time tackling the root causes of climate change.
Or, we can continue down the path of Donald Trump’s indifference, costing tens of billions of dollars to rebuild, and where the human costs — the lives and livelihoods and homes and communities destroyed — are immeasurable.
We have a choice.
We can commit to doing this together because we know that climate change is the existential challenge that will define our future as a country, for our children, grandchildren, and great-children.
Or, there’s Donald Trump’s way — to ignore the facts, to deny reality that amounts to full surrender and a failure to lead.
It’s backward-looking politics that will harm the environment, make communities less healthy, and hold back economic progress while other countries race ahead.
And it’s a mindset that doesn’t have any faith in the capacity of the American people to compete, to innovate, and to win.
Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership.
It requires a president for all Americans.
So as the fires rage out West on this day, our prayers remain with everyone under the ash.
I know it’s hard to see the sun rise and believe today will be better than yesterday when America faces this historic inflection point.
A time of real peril, but also a time of extraordinary possibilities.
I want you to know that we can do this.
We will do this.
We are America.
We see the light through the dark smoke.
We never give up.
May God bless our firefighters and first responders.
Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, presented a 9-point plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, in stark contrast to Trump’s efforts to roll back climate actions and reignite oil, gas, coal industries over clean, renewable energy. This is from the Biden campaign:
President Trump has spent his presidency ignoring the experts and scientists, reversing the Obama-Biden Administration’s efforts to address climate change, abandoning communities and workers, and blocking states and cities trying to lead— going backwards, all while we should have been doing even more.
On the first day of Biden’s Administration, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there will only be 9 years left to stop the worst consequences of climate change. Biden will act on climate immediately and ambitiously, because there’s no time to waste.
1) Take executive action on Day 1 to not just reverse all of the damage Trump has done, but go further and faster. Day 1 of the Biden Administration is going to be very busy! To immediately make progress on his climate agenda, Biden will take actions including requiring aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations; developing rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be zero emissions and annual improvements for heavy duty vehicles; protecting America’s natural treasures by permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas impacted by President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters; and banning new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters.
2) Work with Congress to enact in 2021, President Biden’s first year in office, legislation that, by the end of his first term, puts us on an irreversible path to achieve economy-wide net-zero emissions no later than 2050. The legislation must require polluters to bear the full cost of the carbon pollution they are emitting.
3) Rally the world to urgent and additional action. We know we cannot solve this emergency on our own: the United States accounts for only 15% of global emissions. On Day 1, Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. But we must go further. In his first 100 days in office, Biden will convene a climate world summit to directly engage the leaders of the major greenhouse gas-emitting nations of the world to persuade them to join the United States in making more ambitious national pledges, above and beyond the commitments they have already made. Biden will not allow other nations, including China, to game the system by becoming destination economies for polluters, undermining our climate efforts and exploiting American workers and businesses.
4) Make a historic investment in clean energy and innovation. Biden will invest $400 billion over ten years, as one part of a broad mobilization of public investment, in clean energy and innovation. That investment is twice the investment of the Apollo program which put a man on the moon, in today’s dollars. He will also establish ARPA-C, a new research agency focused on accelerating climate technologies.
5) Accelerate the deployment of clean technology throughout our economy. Creating the best, most innovative clean technology in the world is not enough. We also need to make sure it is used by households and industry in order to achieve aggressive emissions reductions. Biden will set a target of reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035, creating incentives for deep retrofits that combine appliance electrification, efficiency, and on-site clean power generation. He will work with our nation’s governors and mayors to support the deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030. And, Biden will ensure our agricultural sector is the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and that our farmers earn income as we meet this milestone.
6) Make environmental justice a priority across all federal agencies. Everyone is already feeling the effects of climate change. But the impacts of climate change (and inaction on climate change) – on health, economics, and overall quality of life – are far more acute on communities of color, tribal lands, and low-income communities. The coronavirus pandemic, which early data suggests is linked to air pollution that disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income communities, is shining new light on this reality. Biden will make it a priority for all federal agencies — and hold them accountable for results — to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities.
7) Hold polluters accountable. On Day 1, Biden will require public companies to disclose climate-related financial risks and the greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains. In his first year, he’ll work to enact legislation requiring polluters to bear the full cost of their climate pollution. But that’s not all: Biden will direct his EPA and Justice Department to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time when merited. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. These companies must be accountable to the American people, the communities where they operate, and the workers they employ.
8) Create 10 million good-paying, middle-class, union jobs. Every federal dollar spent on rebuilding our infrastructure during the Biden Administration will be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand the impacts of this climate crisis. American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacture all the materials that go into it, and all of these workers must have the option to join a union and collectively bargain. Biden will ensure his infrastructure legislation incorporates labor provisions so federal investments create millions of middle-class jobs, benefiting workers across industries.
9) Fulfill our obligation to the communities and workers that have risked their lives to produce fossil fuels that made it possible for America to win world wars and become an industrial power. Biden will stand with communities and workers impacted by the changing energy market, including by increasing coal companies’ payments into the black lung benefits program, reforming the black lung benefits system so it is no longer rigged in favor of coal companies who can hire lawyers and doctors to ensure miners’ benefits are denied, expanding efforts to help miners detect black lung cases earlier and access care, and enforcing regulations to reduce cases of black lung in the first place. Biden will also establish a task force to help these communities access federal investments and leverage private sector investments to help create high-paying union jobs based upon the unique assets of each community, partner with unions and community colleges to create training opportunities for these new jobs, repair infrastructure, keep public employees like firefighters and teachers on the payroll, and keep local hospitals open.
Capitalists are actually much more responsive to the public will than lawmakers – which may not be saying much. But as the United Nations Climate Summit demonstrated, corporations and the financial institutions that fund them are becoming more conscious of climate change. Even former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has become an advocate for climate action. More investors are factoring in the cost of climate disasters as well as the change to agriculture, human productivity and health, availability of resources including potable water. Still, corporations that are wedded to the status quo and an economy and society oriented around fossil fuels and intense carbon emissions, that don’t respect air and water quality, need a nudge. Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, has just released a plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis.
“Climate change poses a systemic risk to the health and stability of our financial system,” Senator Warren stated. “And yet, Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action. My plan to Stop Wall Street From Financing the Climate Crisis is just the first step to ensuring our financial system is ensured against the worst effects of climate change and Wall Street stops financing the climate crisis.“
This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren released her
plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis. Elizabeth’s plan
will limit and manage the risk that climate change poses to our economy by
reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and insurers pay
the true cost of climate change, instead of passing it on to millions of
Elizabeth rang the alarm in
the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis. She is sounding the alarm on Wall
Street once again as we face the existential threat of our time: climate
change. It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major
danger from the climate crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial
institutions, nor the public watchdogs that
are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address
Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis.
As President, Elizabeth Warren will:
Direct the Federal Reserve to invoke its authority under Section 165 of
Dodd-Frank to impose “enhanced prudential standards” –– things like
higher capital standards, or tougher stress testing –– on large
financial institutions based on their exposure to climate-related risks.
Treat climate change as the systemic risk to our financial system that
it is and use existing financial regulations to push the Financial Stability
Oversight Council (FSOC) to carefully examine the risks posed by climate change
and use its authority to designate financial institutions as
“systemically important” if appropriate.
Go beyond her Climate Risk Disclosure Plan by strengthening
SEC rules that govern the climate change expertise in the composition
of boards of directors, as well as in shareholder representation and disclosure
in proxy voting.
Elizabeth will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much
fossil fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to
all fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.
Fight for pensions by pushing the Securities and Exchange
Commission and Department of Labor –– the two government bodies charged with
regulating pensions –– to declare carbon-intensive investments not consistent
with a fund manager’s fiduciary duty to its clients.
Hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re
spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable communities —
by working with Congress to make large insurance companies doing business in
the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving from coal, oil and
gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies.
Elizabeth will also investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of
their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under
the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel
Transition us away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying
administration at a speed unmatched by any transition in modern
history. As part of that transition, she will announce her choices for Cabinet,
including a Treasury Secretary who understands the financial risks of the
climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And she will staff all senior and mid-level
White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration Day.
Requiring implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the
elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade
Dedicating $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy
American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right here at home
under the Green Marshall Plan.
Ending all American support for international oil and gas projects
through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment
Committing to using America’s voting power in the World Bank and other
global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil fuel projects and
to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead.
Stop Wall Street from Financing the Climate Crisis
I’ve spent most of my career getting to the bottom of what’s happening to
working families in America. And when I saw the seeds of the 2008 financial
crisis growing, I rang the alarm as
loud as I could. But the people with the power to stop the crisis didn’t listen
— not enough of them anyway. Not the banks, not Alan Greenspan or other federal
regulators, not Congress. And when the financial crisis hit in 2008, working
families lost it all while the big banks that broke the economy got a fat
And once again, as we face the existential threat of our time –– climate
change –– Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action.
It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major danger from the climate
crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial institutions, nor the public watchdogs that
are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address
Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis. In fact, many of the largest banks and assetmanagers have
actually increased their holdings of fossil fuel assets since
the Paris Agreement was signed. And in the two years immediately after the
Paris Agreement was adopted, the six largest U.S. bank investors in fossil
fuels companies loaned, underwrote, or otherwise financed over $700 billion for fossil fuel
companies. Wall Street banks are making a quick buck accelerating
climate change, all while communities across the country are suffering from the lasting impacts
of industrial pollution and the increasingly devastating
effects of climate change.
There has been some movement by big financial firms. A recently leaked report from J.P. Morgan —
the world’s largest financial backer of fossil fuel companies — stated that
the climate crisis could lead to “catastrophic outcomes where human life as we
know it is threatened.” Late last year, Goldman Sachs announced that
it will spend $750 billion over ten years on sustainable finance projects,
restrict financing to all new oil production and exploration in the Arctic, and
impose stricter lending requirements for coal companies. And in a letter to
investors earlier this year, Blackrock –– the world’s largest asset manager ––
announced that it will exit investments with high
environmental risk, like thermal coal, and launch new investment
products that screen for fossil fuels. While these actions are a small step in
the right direction, they are long overdue given the relative impact the
financial industry has had on the climate crisis — and they’re not enough to
protect us from a climate-fueled financial collapse, either.
We will not defeat the climate crisis if we have to wait for the financial
industry to self-regulate or come forward with piecemeal voluntary commitments.
Winning a Green New Deal and achieving 100% clean energy for our global economy
–– or enacting any of my 13 plans to defeat the climate
crisis –– will be near impossible so long as large financial
institutions are allowed to freely underwrite investments in dirty fossil
This ends when I am president. A Warren administration will act
decisively and swiftly to manage the risk that climate change poses to our
economy by reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and
insurers pay the true cost of climate change instead of passing it on to
millions of Americans. We can make the financial system work for good
as we transition to 100% clean energy, but first, we have to change the way
Wall Street is currently doing business.
Use existing financial regulations to tackle climate change because it is
a systemic risk to our financial system
Foreign financial regulators understand that the climate crisis poses serious
risks to the financial system. European regulators are warning of a “green swan” event that
could trigger a climate change-driven financial crisis. The Governor of the
Bank of England, Mark Carney, and the Governor of the Banque de France,
François Villeroy warned that climate change poses a
“catastrophic effect” to the global economy that could lead to
“a sudden collapse in asset prices” similar to the to the 2008 financial
crisis, and has urged central banks, such as the Federal Reserve Board, to play
a much larger role in tackling the crisis.
I am sounding the alarm on Wall Street once again –– just as I did in
the lead up to the 2008 financial crash.
The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was our country’s
response to the 2008 crisis. It included tools that our federal regulators
could use to protect the safety and soundness of our financial
system. Regulators should use those tools now to address the systemic risk that
climate change poses.
Specifically, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) –– a body
created by Dodd-Frank to bring together heads of financial regulatory agencies
to assess threats across jurisdictions and markets –– should carefully examine
the risks posed by climate change and use its authority to designate financial
institutions as “systemically important” if appropriate. And the Federal
Reserve should invoke its authority under Section 165 of Dodd-Frank to impose
“enhanced prudential standards” –– things like higher capital standards and
margin requirement, or tougher stress testing –– on large financial
institutions based on their climate-related risks.
By using the authorities Congress has already given them, federal regulators
can mitigate the climate-related risk in our financial system and help accelerate
the transition towards a clean energy economy.
Increase corporate accountability through the Securities & Exchange
That’s a problem in two ways. First, there are a lot of companies that could be
badly hurt by the likely environmental effects of climate change, and their
financial implications such as stranded assets, and supply-chain risk. We’ve
already seen how record storms, flooding, and wildfires can cause billions of dollars in damage.
Second, global efforts to combat climate change will have an enormous impact on
certain types of companies, particularly those in the energy sector. The Task
Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures found that reductions in greenhouse
gas emissions and increasingly affordable deployment of clean
energy technology could have “significant, near-term financial implications”
for Big Oil and fossil fuel companies.
My Climate Risk Disclosure plan addresses
these problems by requiring companies to publicly disclose both of these types
of climate-related risks. It directs the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) to issue rules that make every public company disclose detailed
information, including the likely effect on the company if climate change
continues at its current pace and the likely effect on the company if the world
successfully restricts greenhouse gas emissions to meet the targets of the
Paris Agreement. My plan also requires the SEC to tailor these disclosure
requirements for specific industries so that, for instance, fossil fuel
companies will have to make even more detailed disclosures.
But disclosure is just the first step. There is more the SEC can do to ensure
companies are more accurately accounting for climate risk, which is why a
Warren administration will go further by strengthening SEC rules that govern
the climate change expertise in the composition of boards of directors, as well
as in shareholder representation and disclosure in proxy voting. My
administration will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much fossil
fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to all
fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. And a Warren administration will
work with the SEC Office of Credit Ratings to direct credit rating agencies to
impose process standards — like climate due diligences — that incorporate the
physical and financial risks that climate change presents to securities and
other financial assets, as well as to the companies that issue them.
For the millions of public school teachers, firefighters, police officers, and
other state and federal public employees who spend their careers in service to
our government, pension funds provide a shot at a decent retirement. Most
simply, pensions are deferred wages for our public employees. And yet
today, our pension systems are failing our public employees.
That’s in part because they are invested in fossil fuels –– leaving
all the risk of fossil fuel investments in hard working Americans’ retirement
One recent analysis found
that pension funds would be significantly more successful without risky fossil
investments. California’s $238 billion state teachers retirement fund CalSTRS
–– which serves nearly a million public school teachers –– would have earned an
additional $5.5 billion over ten years without its fossil fuel investments. And
Colorado’s state pension fund PERA –– which serves 600,000 current and former
teachers, state troopers, corrections officers, and other public employees ––
would have earned almost $2 billion more in value. This matters for
hard-working pension-holders: investments in fossil fuels over the last 10
years have lost many of California’s public school teachers $5,572 each, and
cost many of Colorado’s public employees $2,900 each. And yet, despite calls
from environmentalists to divest from fossil fuels, in January of this
year CalSTRS rejected divestment,
claiming it would have a “lasting negative impact on the
health of the fund.”
As president, I will fight for every person’s pension, because every
American deserves the right to retire with dignity after spending their career
in service of our local, state and federal government. A Warren
administration would explicitly state policy preferences for limiting climate
risk, beginning with divestment from fossil fuels and prioritizing investments
in environmental, social and governance (ESG) options. And I would go further
by pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor ––
the two government bodies charged with regulating pensions –– to declare
carbon-intensive investments not consistent with a fund manager’s fiduciary
duty to its clients.
And, as a matter of justice, we should tighten bankruptcy laws to prevent coal
and other fossil fuel companies from evading their responsibility to their
workers and to the communities that they have helped to pollute. In the
Senate, I have fought to improve the
standing of coal worker pensions and benefits in bankruptcy ––
and as president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these
changes a reality.
Instead of halting the effects of climate change, insurers are passing on
the high prices to consumers — or foregoing offering protection to vulnerable
Americans altogether. In some places, insurance companies are pulling
out of areas entirely, leaving consumers exposed. For example, the number of
new and renewed homeowners’ insurance policies fell by 8,700 in
California counties at greatest risk for wildfires. But some insurance
providers will still write policies in vulnerable areas, ratcheting up the monthly prices
consumers pay to counterbalance their increased risk. Premiums
rose in every single state in the nation over the past decade, with states
in tornado alley experiencing the
highest jumps by an average of over $500. And private companies
are taking advantage of the price increases: the number of private flood
insurers has more than doubled since 2016, and they’ve taken in an additional half
a billion in premiums since the prior year.
It’s time to hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re
spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable
communities. I’ll work with Congress to make large insurance companies
doing business in the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving
from coal, oil and gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies. I’ll
investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under
the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel
projects. I’ll push the SEC to require insurance companies to show that they
have evaluated climate-related risks in their underwriting processes and in
their reserves. I will reform the National Flood Insurance Program by making it
easier for existing residents to move out of flood-prone properties – both
inland and coastal – including a program to buy back those properties from
low-income homeowners at market value. And within my first term I will ensure
the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps are fully updated, so that
we can raise the standard for new construction through the Federal Flood Risk
Personnel is Policy
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, economic leaders from across
the world highlighted the vital need to include climate risks in
economic analysis. But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin found himself in a
minority of one, arguing that costs were being overestimated when
considering the impacts of climate change. Either he’s uninformed or he’s
lying: study after study shows that we
are drastically underestimating the cost of the climate
I have often said that personnel is policy. The
regulators in charge of protecting the American people need to understand the
risk that the climate crisis poses to our entire financial system — and the
millions whose livelihoods depend on it. That’s why I will appoint at every
level of the system financial regulators committed to holding financial
institutions accountable for climate risk. Here’s what that means:
I will appoint a Treasury Secretary who — unlike Steven Mnuchin —
believes in the power of markets to help defeat the climate crisis: because
right now, research in both of those fields shows
how vital it is that we expose the climate risk.
I’ll appoint financial regulators — including Federal Reserve
governors, Commodity Futures Trading Commission commissioners, and leadership
of every other agency represented on the Financial Stability Oversight Council
— who understand the clear threat climate change poses to our financial system
and who implement policy that addresses financial institutions’ exposure to
climate risks and hold them accountable to addressing.
I’ve already pledged to appoint an SEC
chair who will use all existing tools to require robust
disclosure of climate-related risks. I’ll also appoint SEC commissioners who
will manage the threat climate change poses to the economy by pushing for
corporate disclosure of climate risk and a shift of finances away from fossil
The size and the scope of the risk that climate poses to our financial
system requires immediate action. I’ve committed to transitioning us
away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying administration at a speed unmatched by
any transition in modern history, so that we can begin tackling the urgent
challenges ahead on Day One. As part of that transition, I will
announce my choices for Cabinet, including a Treasury Secretary who understands
the financial risks of the climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And I’ll staff
all senior and mid-level White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration
Day — so that we can begin de-risking our financial system from the moment I’m
Work with international allies
One of the next catastrophic global financial crises may well be caused by the growing
climate crisis. The 2008 recession proved how financial crises are
no longer isolated: their impact echoes across countries. That’s why addressing
the financial risks of the climate crisis is an international issue. But
the United States isn’t just lagging behind other countries on addressing the
climate risk: right now, we’re not even in the same league.
A Warren Administration will work with international allies to build a more
resilient financial and environmental future for our planet. And I’ll use every
tool in the box to build that world. As President I’ll advocate for the Federal
Reserve to join the global coalition of central banks known as the Network on Greening the Financial
System. As we transition to a 100% clean energy economy, the United
States should be a leader on the global stage, and having a seat at the table
is the first step. As part of my New Approach to Trade, I
will require implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of
fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement. My Green
Marshall Plan will dedicate $100 billion to helping other countries purchase
and deploy American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right
here at home. And we should end all American support for international oil and
gas projects through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment
Corporation. We should also commit to using America’s voting power in the World
Bank and other global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil
fuel projects and to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead.
Our efforts should be dedicated to accelerating the global transition to clean
New York State has made
$4.3 million in grants for 111 projects across the state that will help prevent
hunger and reduce the disposal of food waste though food donation and
recycling. The grants will support efforts by municipalities and organizations,
such as pantries and soup kitchens, to help divert scraps for recycling and
reduce the amount of organic waste by redirecting excess, edible food to New
Yorkers struggling with food insecurity.
“Wasted food hurts
needy families facing the terrible challenges of food insecurity and harms the
environment by growing landfills and contributing to climate
change,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
said. “These awards are the latest step New York is
taking to help local governments and community organizations support smart
investments that prevent food waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by
food disposal, and provide nutritious and healthy food to combat hunger across
New York State.”
Wasted food has
significant environmental, social, and economic impacts and these grants help
support municipalities and emergency food relief organizations by improving
food rescue efforts and diverting food scraps from disposal in landfills.
Reducing the landfilling of food scraps is also recognized as a valuable
mitigation measure in the state’s ongoing fight against climate change. The New
York State Department of Environmental Conservation will administer the grants.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “It is a sad fact that Americans waste about 25 percent of
the food purchased, leading to negative impacts on our environment and a waste
of food resources that could otherwise be used to help people in need. The projects
supported by the grants announced today are a combination of public outreach
initiatives and innovative, common-sense approaches to promoting food
recycling, helping the hungry, and reducing waste to build stronger, healthier,
and environmentally sustainable communities.”
Municipal Food Scraps
Reduction, Food Donation, and Food Scraps Recycling Grants
DEC is awarding a total
of $3.28 million in grants to 27 municipal projects that will use innovative
and comprehensive approaches to support wasted food prevention and reduction
initiatives, streamline food donation and rescue efforts, and/or develop
organics recycling programs and facilities. Many projects involve strategic
partnerships with community-based organizations to reduce the volume of
wasted food and food scraps entering the municipal waste stream. This is
accomplished through the development and implementation of wasted food
reduction education and outreach programs and by establishing municipal
composting and other organics recycling infrastructure. Among the highlights of
the municipal grant projects:
of Cortland $195,936: The
funding will support the Cortland Food Project Rescue and Waste
Prevention, a comprehensive community education campaign focused on wasted
food prevention and reduction. The city will develop and implement
Cortland’s first local food rescue system and volunteer network to seek
out large quantities of “past prime” produce that program staff
and volunteers will be trained to process into value-added food products.
The city will then coordinate with existing local hunger projects, such as
food pantries, soup kitchens, and the planned commercial community kitchen
and entrepreneurship program to be located at the Homer Avenue
Revitalization Project site;
of Ossining $99,145: The
town will create a comprehensive food scraps recycling pilot program to
serve approximately 38,300 residents and neighboring areas. The town will:
purchase collection bins for several public sites, including nearby
Environmental Justice communities and for residential home use; develop
informational materials to include in the kits residents will use in their
homes; and Teatown Lake Reservation will begin community
education events and programming regarding food waste prevention and
reduction, composting, and the town-run food scrap recycling program;
County $70,426: The county will address
wasted food prevention and food donation by targeting apartment complexes
and multifamily units in the county. The project will educate tenants and
property managers, focusing on smart shopping, smart storage, and smart
food prep; site a food hub cooler for sharing excess edible food, with
leftover donations going to Friendship Donations Network (FDN) for further
distribution throughout the Tompkins County community; provide tenants
with free toolkits to collect food scraps from their kitchens for
composting; and develop “kitchen to compost” educational
of Sleepy Hollow $11,286: The
village will develop and launch a comprehensive food scraps recycling
program that includes: education efforts and materials that are accessible
for all residents, despite income or language barriers; create a food
scraps recycling program that offers 500 free starter kits (countertop
food scraps collection pail and storage bin) to residents for composting;
and create outreach materials designed to reach all demographics in the
village, including Spanish-language translations, and engaging low-income
residents and seniors in the participation of the project.
Emergency Food Relief
Food pantries and other
local emergency food relief organizations are on the front lines when it comes
to helping those in need. These organizations often rely on donations of food
through partnerships with local businesses, farms, and other food donors to
supplement their inventories of wholesome food. However, as many of these food
pantries and organizations are volunteer-run and have limited funds, they often
do not have the resources to establish these partnerships or purchase the
necessary storage equipment and vehicles to transport donated perishable foods.
Due to these challenges, highly nutritious, perishable food that is ready to be
distributed to food pantries and soup kitchens — such as fresh produce — often
goes to waste, despite the efforts of donors and food rescue organizations.
DEC is funding 84
projects with $1.1 million to support projects including: hiring food recovery
staff focused on developing donation partnerships; purchasing efficient cold
storage equipment; kitchen equipment to prepared rescued, perishable produce;
vehicles to transport rescued food; and the implementation of hyper-local
perishable and prepared food recovery and distribution networks. In addition,
several projects include the establishment of nutrition and cooking classes to
help them use the food they receive from the pantries most efficiently. These
classes and workshops help clients reduce wasted food and stretch limited food
budgets. Highlighted grant projects include:
House $13,720: Iris House in Central
Harlem will use the funds to support efforts to distribute food closer to
the residents of East Harlem in New York City. Iris House will use part of
the grant funds to cover the operation costs of a van to transport food
pantry bag distribution to pop-up locations in East Harlem to save
residents the costs of transportation to Central Harlem. Iris House will
also develop and distribute brochures about nutrition and to advertise
their services and provide information about free food availability;
Chance Foods $15,000: Second
Chance Foods is not-for-profit food rescue organization in Carmel, New
York, that will use the grant to support the salary of a kitchen manager
to process rescued food into cooked meals or prepare parts of meals to
donate to local food programs. By processing rescued food such as
blemished produce and unfamiliar foods, Second Chance Foods makes more
rescued food “usable” by soup kitchen managers and pantry
clients, preventing wasted food and increasing the amount of wholesome
food available to people;
Food of Washington County, Inc. $12,420: Comfort Food Community serves a rural county with
limited access to grocery stores and a significant percent of the
population in poverty. CFC will hire a seasonal Food Recovery Assistant to
improve gleaning efforts at the 35 farms in their service area through
volunteer recruitment and management, as well as coordinating and
supervising rescue efforts. The Food Recovery Assistant will also work on
outreach and education elements of the Fresh Food Collective. CFC will
also use these grant funds to dedicate staff time to developing recipe
cards and coordinated meal kits for the gleaned produce to help ensure
that recipients of the produce are able to use all of it properly and
incorporate more nutritious food into their diets; and
Meadows Community Farm, Inc. $15,000: Pitney
Meadows Community Farm, Inc., is not-for-profit organization in Saratoga
Springs dedicated to urban agriculture, farmland conservation, community
empowerment, and increasing access to fresh, healthy produce. The farm
will install a “Giving Garden” dedicated to growing food
for food pantries and will use the grant to hire a farm manager to oversee
the Giving Garden and associated donation partnerships; construct a wash/pack
station to properly prepare freshly harvested vegetables in a safe,
reliable, and convenient way; and install a walk-in cooler to store food
before it is donated to local pantries.
New York State has long
been committed to the fight against hunger and Governor Cuomo has launched groundbreaking
initiatives and programs in recent years, including the Council on
Hunger and Food Policy, Vital Brooklyn, and the No Student Goes Hungry
initiative to combat hunger, improve access to healthy, locally grown foods,
and bring New York-grown foods and beverages to underserved communities. The
grants announced today also build upon the success of the 2019 Food Donations
and Food Scraps Recycling law signed by the Governor, that requires all designated
food scraps generators to first donate edible food to those in need, and
secondly, to recycle food scraps if a viable recycling facility is located
within 25 miles. In response to this crucial legislation, DEC has provided
$800,000 to Feeding New York State for additional resources to handle the
anticipated influx of donated food.
The grant announcement
was made at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern
New York in Latham, to help prepare New Yorkers for the
statewide ban on plastic carryout bags, which begins March 1. DEC, in
coordination with Feeding New York State, will distribute reusable bags to food
banks across the state as part of DEC’s efforts to encourage
consumers to bring their own bags whenever and wherever they shop. Feeding New York State helps
feed millions of people each year through more than 5,000 food pantries, soup
kitchens, shelters, and other programs.
The BYOBagNY initiative
is part of New York’s comprehensive outreach campaign with state and local
partners to educate retailers and consumers about the plastic bag ban, which
will help reduce the scourge of plastic bag waste in the state’s environment
and communities. New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags
annually—each for about 12 minutes—and approximately 85 percent of this
staggering total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and
streets. For more information about the outreach efforts and details of the
law’s implementation, visit DEC’s website.
The vigorous contest of
Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent
policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren has
released independent analysis supporting her plans for a Green New Deal
creating 10.6 million new green jobs. This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren, campaigning for President, released a new independent analysis estimating that her plans for a Green New Deal will create 10.6 million new green jobs.
“America has a long and proud history of rising to the
challenges that have faced this country — and defeating the climate crisis is
no exception. A Warren administration will ensure that as we fight climate
change, each and every American benefits from the opportunities created by the
clean economy — especially the 10.6 million workers who will power our
transition to 100% clean energy.”
Elizabeth Warren’s plans for a Green New Deal will:
Develop the green workforce of the future by expanding job
training, partnering with unions to rebuild the middle class, and ensuring the
new clean economy is open to everyone
Rebuild and repower our energy grid to grow our economy,
invest in offshore wind, and achieve 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030
Transform our transportation sector by expanding green
public transportation programs and requiring all new light and medium-duty
vehicles sold by 2030 to be zero-emission vehicles
Repair our water infrastructure by rebuilding America’s
dams, levees, and inland waterways and ensuring safe drinking water for all
Rebuild our homes, buildings and schools to achieve safe and
affordable housing and provide our children with healthy living and learning
Finance the green jobs program by creating a new Green Bank
and issuing Green Victory Bonds, modeled after the programs FDR implemented
during the New Deal
My Plan to Create 10.6 Million Green Jobs
Earlier this month, climate scientists published new research suggesting the planet is hurtling towards an ecological tipping point that would irreversibly damage the earth and threaten our livable climate — for good. This most recent study adds to the growing body of evidence that climate change is happening faster than scientists originally thought. And it further reinforces what we already know: we have roughly a decade left to avoid catastrophic impacts by ending our economic dependence on fossil fuels and substantially reducing global emissions.
But while climate change presents an urgent threat, it also presents the greatest opportunity of our time: the chance to rebuild our economy with 100% clean energy, to address the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy, and to create millions of good, union jobs in the process. This is not the first time our country has faced a threat of this magnitude.
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt said we would build a historic air force of 185,000 planes to defeat the Nazis, America had a nascent military aircraft industry. But FDR rallied the nation to the task: by the end of World War II, we had produced around 300,000 aircraft in less than 5 years.
When John F. Kennedy told the nation that we would send a man to the moon in under a decade, people said that would be impossible, too. But our top scientists and engineers came together and changed the world forever, delivering not just a lunar landing but also a torrent of new technology that helped working Americans here at home.
From World War II to the space race, American ingenuity has risen to meet seemingly impossible challenges — leading the world and unleashing economic benefits for Americans in the process.
Today we face a new challenge. Defeating the climate crisis will require the ingenuity of the moon landing and an economic and industrial mobilization unseen since our efforts in World War II. It will need to happen at the speed and scale of FDR’s New Deal, which launched over 50 federal programs and pulled millions of Americans out of unemployment. It will take workers of all kinds to rebuild and repower our energy grid and to upgrade our transportation, building, and water systems to guard against the worst effects of climate change and protect our most vulnerable communities. And it will take workers in every corner of America — from construction foremen in the Rust Belt to pipefitters in the Bayou — to transform our country’s infrastructure.
The Green New Deal is the answer to this national call.
After the 2008 crash, President Obama ushered through the historic American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to jumpstart our economy and bring an end to the Great Recession. Included in this total federal investment was $90 billion for clean energy, making it one of the largest investments in clean energy in U.S. history. The Council of Economic Advisors later reported that every $1 invested in clean energy leveraged an additional $1.60 in non-federal and private dollars.
Using this historical data and other estimates as a guide, my plans for a Green New Deal will result in an estimated total public and private investment of $10.7 trillion in our new clean energy economy. And independent experts that examined my ideas for a Green New Deal to analyze how they will drive job creation estimated that they will create 10.6 million new green jobs. This will help rebuild the middle class by providing family-supporting wages, career pathways, and worker protections in our new green economy. This is the opportunity of the Green New Deal: a $10.7 trillion total investment in our clean economy that spurs 10.6 million green new jobs. And we’ll do it all together — with no community and no worker left behind.
I mean it when I say that defeating the climate crisis will be a top priority of my administration. That’s why today I’m releasing my plan to enact a climate change agenda that not only reduces our carbon emissions but also jumpstarts our economy.
Developing the Green Workforce of the Future
There are already clean energy job opportunities across the country. But with $10.7 trillion in federal and private investments, we can turn these opportunities into 10.6 million new, union jobs rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and transitioning to the new clean energy economy. To support the millions of skilled and experienced contractors we will need to plan and execute large construction and engineering projects in the new clean economy and to support the first responders, healthcare workers, social workers, and other public and private employees who respond to climate-induced disasters, my administration will commit to investments in retraining, joint labor management apprenticeships, and creating strong career pipelines to ensure a continuous supply of skilled, available workers. And, we will look for every opportunity to partner with high schools and vocational schools to build pathways to the middle class for kids who opt not to go to college.
Expanding job training.
We currently invest $200 million annually in apprenticeship programs across the country. Successfully training and re-training millions of skilled laborers to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, however, will require scaling up dramatically. That’s why my plan to Defend and Create American Jobs calls for a tenfold increase in investments in apprenticeships — a $20 billion commitment over the next ten years. I’ll follow Governor Inslee’s lead by re-establishing dedicated programs for green industrial and construction job training and placement under the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA), too.
And investing in job training is only the first step. A Warren administration will link public investments in clean energy infrastructure to apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship training, as well as graduation rates and local hires, to ensure that we are creating a full training-to-career pipeline. My plans also call for expanded technical and trade school opportunities to create pathways into good jobs in the new clean energy economy that will not require a college degree. And my administration will create regional sector-specific training partnerships to help better align training with the local job market, leverage the community college system, and ensure that workers gain transferable skills.
Partnering with unions to rebuild the middle class.
I am committed to ensuring that all of the 10.6 million new jobs in the clean economy pull working Americans back into the middle class — and to working hand-in-hand with unions to do so. That’s why I will fight for good wages and strong benefits for every worker that joins the new clean economy. A Warren administration will condition federal clean energy investments to state, local, and tribal governments on employers offering family-supporting wages and benefits — and will enforce this through Project Labor Agreements, prevailing wage laws, and Community Benefit Agreements. And I will work hand-in-hand with unions to return power to the working people powering the green economy. Unions built the middle class and unions will rebuild the middle class in the green economy of the future, too.
I’ve already committed to making sweeping reforms to our labor policy. These changes will extend labor rights to all workers — for example, narrowing the definition of “supervisor” under the National Labor Relations Act to end the exclusion of workers like the construction foremen that will lead the charge on building our clean energy grids. They will guarantee workers entering this new economy have a voice in actually shaping it by strengthening organizing and collective bargaining rights and increasing worker choice and control, including by requiring large companies to allow workers to elect no less than 40% of board members. And I will work with unions to design the training and apprenticeship programs that can create strong career pipelines for workers to enter this new green economy, helping to expand opportunities — and a continuous supply of skilled workers to power this transformation.
Ensuring the new clean economy is open to everyone.
In addition to employing millions of new workers in the clean economy, I am committed to leaving no worker behind as we transition to an economy powered on clean energy. That includes honoring our commitments to fossil fuel workers by holding fossil fuel companies accountable and defending worker pensions, benefits, and securing retirements. I will make sure the opportunities created are available to those who have traditionally been excluded — especially women and communities of color — by imposing new rules on companies that hope to receive federal contracts.
Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure as part of the new clean energy economy will take all of us, including returning citizens — which is why my administration will partner with organizations that make renewable energy and associated job training available to underserved communities and formerly incarcerated individuals. And my plan to empower workers will expand worker safety protections for workers entering the green economy — like our transit workers who are increasingly subject to assault — and I will strengthen anti-discrimination protections for workers from all backgrounds.
Repowering our Energy Sector
In 2018, clean energy industries employed over 3.2 million Americans — more workers than in the petroleum, natural gas and coal industries combined. The clean energy industry is rapidly expanding — the two fastest-growing jobs in the nation are solar panel installer and wind turbine technician. But there is more to do, and the federal government can and should play a role in increasing the speed and scale of this transition. A Warren administration will focus on rebuilding and repowering our energy grid to grow our economy — and my plans will create 6.8 million good paying jobs in the energy sector, all while cutting carbon pollution.
100% Clean Energy Plan
While some states and utilities have been leading the way on cleaning up their electricity sources, far too many are falling behind. My plan calls for the federal government to set a bold standard for achieving 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030, including carbon-free baseload solutions, putting us on the path to a 100% emissions-free electricity supply by 2035.
These ambitious targets will require us to ramp up renewable energy generation and deployment dramatically. Cleaning up our energy system will create a diverse range of jobs — from construction worker to electrician to project manager. But these good paying jobs won’t just be in renewable energy. They will also come from making homes, offices, and industries more energy efficient. And through my Green Manufacturing plan, we’ll jumpstart American research and manufacturing in areas like battery storage, which will require a whole new set of skills and laborers. And wherever possible, we’ll invest in modernizing our grid with American-made materials, spurring still more jobs right here at home.
Offshore Wind Jobs
Right now, there is only one offshore wind project operating in this country — Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm. It’s clear that today, we are failing to make use of the clean, powerful energy resource that lies just off our coasts. My Blue New Deal For Our Oceans plan will jumpstart the offshore wind industry. Bringing these offshore wind projects to life will generally require the help of workers from more than 70 different occupations — from machinists to engineers, sailors to ironworkers, electricians to longshoremen. By 2030, offshore wind energy development from Maryland to Maine could support more than 36,000 full time jobs. And even after they’re built, we will need workers to operate and service the turbines. My Blue New Deal also calls for electrifying and shoring up our ports, creating additional jobs throughout our coastal communities.
Restarting Our Transportation Sector
America’s transportation and trucking industry accounts for more than 10 million direct jobs, with over 3 million truck drivers alone. But right now, transportation also accounts for the largest portion of U.S. carbon pollution. Moreover, our public transportation infrastructure is crumbling: the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our roads a “D” grade on their most recent infrastructure report card, with one out of every five miles of highway pavement in poor condition.
For too long, our government has failed to invest in critical infrastructure — and unless we take action, poor conditions will continue to plague one of our most important industries. But this, too, is an opportunity: as we rebuild our crumbling transportation infrastructure, we can build in climate resiliency, and create a transportation system powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels. The massive project of investing in our transportation infrastructure will affect every state and county in the nation, creating about 2.6 million jobs in the public and private sector.
Build Green Program
Public transportation is a $71 billion industry that employs more than 430,000 people. And yet, 45% of Americans still do not have access to public transportation, leaving those without access reliant on car ownership to get to work, school and worship. We know that increasing public transportation rates and decreasing vehicle miles traveled is one of the best ways to reduce emissions. That’s why I’m proposing a new Build Green program, which would establish a new grant program to electrify public buses, school buses, rail, cars, and fleet vehicles that is modeled after the Department of Transportation’s BUILD grant program. This program will be paid for by closing corporate loopholes, and will open up new funding opportunities for states, cities, counties and tribal governments to expand and electrify public transportation options. A study conducted in the Twin Cities found Black, Asian-American, and Latinx commuters have longer commutes than white commuters. And people with disabilities face particular barriers in using and accessing public transportation. These investments will be crucial to ensuring equitable and accessible transportation for all.
100% Clean Vehicles.
Demand for passenger electric vehicles is growing at home and abroad — but even though more and more people want electric vehicles, they still only account for around 1% of vehicles on the road. To spur auto manufacturing in this space, I have put forward a bold and ambitious goal to require all new light -and medium-duty vehicles sold by 2030 to be zero emission vehicles. We’ll achieve this goal by investing in a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. By the end of the first term of a Warren administration, there will be a charging station at every rest stop in America. And this nation-wide network of charging infrastructure will begin to lay the groundwork for electrifying long-haul trucking, too. But charging station infrastructure is only half the battle. Right now, consumers don’t have enough access to vehicles. In 2011, there were only two mass market electric vehicles available to consumers — and even now, the auto industry offers only fifteen models. While car manufacturers are already trying to meet growing demand, my investment in clean energy technology, including products designed for use in the electric vehicle supply chain, will further increase adoption of electric vehicles by making it easier for auto manufacturers to build the vehicles that consumers want.
We’ve let our failure to take action destroy our transportation infrastructure for too long and a Warren administration will make sure that the Department of Transportation acts with the speed and scale necessary to address the climate challenges ahead of us. I will take executive action to require the Department of Transportation set performance management rules that require federal transportation investments to be accompanied by life-cycle analysis and reduction strategies for climate and other transportation related pollution.
Renewing Our Water Infrastructure
America’s water infrastructure is crumbling. The government’s failure to invest is putting Americans in danger in two ways: first, our levees, dams and inland waterways infrastructure are all at risk — and will only become more stressed by climate change as sea-level rise, extreme flooding, and drought all become more frequent and severe. Second, our drinking water is increasingly at risk: as the infrastructure supporting it crumbles, an estimated 77 million Americans live with tap water that violates federal safe water standards — and this number does not even include the millions more served by very small water systems or private domestic wells. Meanwhile, more and more Americans struggle to afford their water bills as water bill costs have risen at more than double the rate of inflation over the last 20 years. Fixing our water infrastructure is an urgent priority — but we risk not having enough hands on deck, as the water sector’s aging workforce increasingly enters into retirement. Reinvesting in our nation’s water infrastructure isn’t just essential for the health and the safety of our communities, it’s also a chance to grow our workforce. In a Warren administration, we’ll not only protect Americans by rebuilding our nation’s water infrastructure — we’ll also create about 190,000 thousand good, union jobs in the process.
Rebuilding America’s dams, levees, and inland waterways.
Our nation’s dams, levees, and inland waterways provide necessary infrastructure for shipping and hydroelectric power — but they’ve been so underfunded that they are putting our communities at risk. When the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway failed in 2017, nearly 200,000 people were evacuated from rural Northern California. And the failure of New Orleans’ levees during Hurricane Katrina made Katrina one of the most devastating U.S. hurricane on record, killing 1,800 people, damaging 70% of homes in New Orleans, and resulting in damages of $125 billion. This stops now. A Warren administration will triple the US Army Corps of Engineers’ annual budget so that they have the resources they need to upgrade our water infrastructure and defend our vulnerable communities from harm. We’ll pay for this with savings from my plan to transition the military away from its dependence on fossil fuels and other internal Department of Defense funding shifts. This dramatic expansion will create new opportunities for good, federal jobs as we update critical infrastructure across the nation — an investment that is more important than ever to defend vulnerable front-line communities from more frequent and more severe weather events.
Ensuring safe drinking water for all
Nearly a decade ago the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing access to water and sanitation as basic human rights. But today, the United States is in the middle of a dangerous drinking water crisis. Not only do an estimated 77 million Americans’ have tap water that violated federal standards, but at least 2 million Americans still don’t have access to running water. And because of a long legacy of unfair, racist, and deliberate policy choices, communities of color are disproportionately likely to lack access to safe, affordable drinking water. After decades of declining federal investments in safe water, it’s time to invest in safe, affordable water for our communities. That’s why I have committed to fully capitalizing federal programs that fund drinking water capital infrastructure, such as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. And I will go further by supporting Rep. Joe Kennedy’s Affordable Safe Drinking Water Act, which would extend the horizon for states and localities to repay revolving loans and expand the funding to cover the installation of lead and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) filtering systems and remediation measures. These important updates to the State Revolving Fund programs will not only guarantee much-needed upgrades to our drinking water infrastructure, but will also spur necessary investments to allow for expanded job opportunities. My administration will continue to invest in brownfield remediation, which is why I have proposed to reinstate and then triple the Superfund Tax to ensure that we protect our communities from the legacy of environmental harm and we put people to work in the process. And I will remain committed to standing with communities across the country that are impacted by lead.
Jobs in the water sector are wide ranging: there are more than 200 different occupations, including in skilled trades, administration, and finance. What’s more, because every community needs quality water, these jobs exist across the nation. I will work to create more inclusive career paths for water workers to meet the needs of our drinking water infrastructure by fighting for increases in the percent of local hires and minority/women-owned contracts that are awarded as part of water-related government contracting. And I will work with Congress to fully fund the EPA’s Brownfields Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants Program and the Environmental Health Sciences Environmental Career Worker Training Program, which is helping to improve workforce development for water-related careers. Lastly and in order to confront America’s drinking water crisis head on, I will take executive action to develop a national inter-agency safe and affordable drinking water roadmap. And to inform this effort I will convene a Water Equity Advisory Council with representation from key environmental justice and community-based organizations that are on the frontlines of addressing our safe water crisis.
Rebuilding our Homes, Buildings and Schools
In his Second Inaugural Address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that the “test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Later that term, FDR signed into law the Wagner-Steagall Housing Act, which put Americans to work building new, modern affordable housing units across the country. But today, whether it’s a leaky window, an old appliance, or mold in a home, it’s hard-working Americans that pay the price through increased utility bills and housing costs.
As I’ve outlined in my 100% Clean Energy Plan, I’ll work with states and local governments to develop and implement new and stronger building codes to reach zero-carbon emissions and building those new standards into federal grant requirements, tax credits, and mortgage products. And I’ll launch an initiative to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, with the goal of upgrading 4% of buildings a year until the job is done. All told, my plans will create over 970,000 thousand new jobs as demand grows across sectors from the manufacturing of American-made energy efficient materials to large and small-scale construction efforts.
Safe and affordable housing
We currently have a government that has paid lip service to the idea of providing all Americans in need with safe and affordable housing. The federal government hasn’t funded new public housing construction in decades and has turned a blind eye to the massive maintenance backlog needed to make sure the limited housing we do have is safe to live in. That stops now. My Affordable Housing Plan would invest $500 billion over 10 years to address this crisis and would create 3 million new housing units. As a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, I recognize the right to safe, affordable housing for every American and the need for new, green jobs to realize FDR’s dream. My Green Public Housing program will build on the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, by raising living standards and providing the financial assistance necessary to retrofit these homes. This will require training a new American workforce and would alone create 240,000 new jobs. We can address the climate crisis while we tackle the housing crisis, too.
Providing our children with healthy learning and living environments
As a former public school teacher, I know firsthand how our children’s learning can be affected by their environment. More than half of our public schools need repairs in order to be in “good” condition. Our poor school infrastructure has serious effects on the health and academic outcomes of students and on the well-being of teachers and staff. That’s why in my K-12 plan I’ve committed at least an additional $50 billion to improving our school infrastructure. This will require a workforce across the country to identify the schools most in need and carry out the necessary upgrades to provide our children with the learning environment they deserve. There’s nothing more important to me than investing in our kids because it means we’re investing in our future.
Green infrastructure means inclusive infrastructure. We have to recognize that our building infrastructure crisis is an environmental justice crisis. The disparities in our building infrastructure reflect the racial inequities that exist in America today. Historically, redlining denied entire groups of people—primarily communities of color—the chance to live in neighborhoods of their choice while also making them the victims of environmental racism. Studies have shown that low-income and minority children bear the brunt of poisoning from lead-based paint and failing lead pipes in older housing units. Our system has also failed Americans with disabilities who occupy 41% of our public housing units and yet only 3% of those units are ADA accessible. These same inequities exist in our public schools, too. In New York City, for example, 83% of elementary schools in New York City are not fully accessible to students with disabilities.
This ends in a Warren administration. It’s the job of our government to reverse these injustices, and I will put Americans to work to finish the job. That’s why I will use the full force of the federal government to invest in addressing these disparities — and creating millions of good, union jobs in the process.Together, these plans will curb homelessness in America, put Americans to work in quality jobs, protect the health of American families, and ease the burden on their pocketbooks.
Financing the Green Jobs Plan
Defeating the climate crisis and transitioning our economy to run on 100% clean energy will take big, structural change. That’s why my plans will result in $10.7 trillion in federal funding to fight for a Green New Deal — backed up by detailed plans laying out exactly how we will use those dollars — to address the size of this crisis.
The transition to clean energy is an opportunity to transform our economy, creating new industries, like in zero-emissions building construction, and greatly expandingothers, like electric vehicle manufacturing, at a speed and scale not seen since World War II — and creating huge opportunities for state, local and non-federal investment in the process, too. My Administration will create new financing tools to unlock state, local, and private investment and direct it towards meaningful investments that tackle climate change, produce jobs, and reduce inequality. And my administration will put in place strong protections to ensure that this $10.7 trillion commitment flows to the right places, so that our climate investments benefit all Americans — not just the wealthy and well-connected.
A New Green Bank
A Green Bank is among the best ways to ensure a dedicated funding stream for an economy-wide climate transition to reconcile the scale of investment required with the speed of transition necessary to defeat the climate crisis. I’ll work with Congress to establish a bank modeled after and expanded upon the National Climate Bank Act, introduced earlier this year by my friend and colleague Senator Markey. We’ll put in place strong bipartisan oversight and governance to ensure that investments are equitable and benefit working Americans. And ultimately, this new Green Bank will mobilize $1 trillion in climate and green infrastructure investments across the country over 30 years.
The Green Bank will open up new markets for greater investment by working alongside existing federal authorities through direct spending, grants, and loans. It will provide security for investors looking for climate-friendly investments in mid- to large-scale infrastructure projects that serve the public interest but might not otherwise attract private capital due to risk-return thresholds, payback horizons, credit risk or other factors. It will increase the overall scale of clean energy investment and the pace of substitution of clean energy technologies for fossil-fuel based technologies, while also protecting consumers by keeping energy prices low and ensuring compliance with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s regulations. And it will expand opportunities for communities and the private sector by directing funds toward communities on the front lines of the climate crisis that have traditionally been left out of investment opportunities.
Green Victory Bonds
Today many states have green bonds programs, using the proceeds to fund land use projects, river and habitat preservation, and energy and water infrastructure. Green bonds have also surged in popularity worldwide, with sales growing 46% last year to about a total of about $460 billion.
While the federal government has never issued a green bond, the World War II-era “Victory Bond” program was a major success, raising $185 billion — over $2 trillion in 2012 dollars — and four out of five American households bought Victory Bonds. I’ll propose a “Green Victory Bond,” backed by the full-faith and credit of the United States by the Treasury Department, to finance the transition to a green economy. These Green Victory Bonds will be sold at levels that allow Americans across the socioeconomic spectrum the opportunity to own a piece of the climate solution, and to benefit from the new green economy that we build together.
The vigorous contest of Democrats
seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy
proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders, along with
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, presented the Green New Deal for Public
Housing Act to address the shortage of public housing in a way that also
attacks climate change by transitioning to sustainable buildings. Here is the
plan from the Sanders campaign:
WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), in an event outside the Capitol Building, announced the
introduction of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act in partnership with
public housing residents, affordable housing advocates, and climate change
activists. The sweeping legislation they will unveil aims to retrofit,
rehabilitate, and decarbonize the entire nation’s public housing stock.
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act invests up to $180 billion over ten
years in sustainable retrofits that include all needed repairs, vastly improved
health, safety and comfort, and eliminate carbon emissions in our federal
public housing. The legislation also provides funding to electrify all
buildings, add solar panels, and secure renewable energy sources for all public
housing energy needs. The bill dramatically improves living conditions for
nearly 2 million people living in roughly 1 million public homes.
“Faced with the global crisis of climate change, the United States must lead
the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to
sustainable energy,” said Sanders. “But let us be clear: as Congresswoman
Ocasio-Cortez understands, the Green New Deal is not just about climate change.
It is an economic plan to create millions of good-paying jobs, strengthen our
infrastructure, and invest in our country’s frontline and vulnerable
communities. This bill shows that we can address our climate and affordable
housing crises by making public housing a model of efficiency, sustainability
and resiliency. Importantly, the working people who have been most impacted by
decades of disinvestment in public housing will be empowered to lead this
effort and share in the economic prosperity that it generates for our country.”
“Climate change represents both a grave threat and a tremendous opportunity,”
said Ocasio-Cortez. “The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will train and
mobilize the workforce to decarbonize the public housing stock and improve the
quality of life for all residents. I am proud to begin the hard work of
codifying the Green New Deal into law with my friend and colleague, Senator
About 40 percent of
total U.S. energy consumption is attributable to residential and commercial
buildings. With its focus on transforming 1 million units of federally owned
housing, the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will spur economies of scale
for weatherization, retrofitting, and renewable energy, making them more cost
effective and attractive throughout the country. The legislation is expected to
create nearly 250,000 good-paying, union jobs per
year across the country while reducing carbon emissions on the scale of taking
1.2 million cars off the road over the next ten years. Public housing costs
would also be reduced by $97 million per year, or 30 percent, and energy costs
would be slashed by $613 million, or 70 percent.
The legislation envisions a federal-state partnership, creating new grant
programs to swiftly and efficiently transition public housing, tribal housing,
and Native Hawaiian housing to zero-carbon, energy efficient housing. The bill
creates sustainable communities for families by building new childcare and
senior centers, expanding access to clean transit, and creating community
gardens and other community amenities. Under the legislation, public housing
will receive deep energy retrofits, build community-generated renewable
electricity, and upgrade unsafe and unsanitary infrastructure, including
buildings’ water and electrical systems.
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act requires that the hundreds of
thousands of jobs created by this investment be high-road, family-sustaining
jobs by requiring strong labor standards, prevailing wages, and “Buy America”
requirements. Public housing residents will lead the decision-making process for
these investments and receive jobs training for the newly created jobs from
The bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen.
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and endorsed by more than 50 organizations.
The vigorous contest of
Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent
policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren details her
plan to confront the crisis of environmental injustice. “Justice cannot be a
secondary concern – it must be at the center of our response to climate change.”
This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren has released her plan to fight for justice as we take on the climate crisis. Warren will implement an equity screen for her proposed climate investments, directing at least $1 trillion into the most vulnerable communities over the next decade and investing not only in cleaning up pollution but in building wealth and lifting up the communities in most need.
The climate crisis demands all of us to act, but it is also an opportunity to create millions of new good, middle class, union jobs and to directly confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy. Elizabeth will honor our commitment to fossil fuel workers by fighting for guaranteed wage and benefit parity for workers transitioning into new industries, and to protect the pensions and benefits that fossil fuel workers have earned. She’ll partner with unions every step of the way.
She will hold corporate polluters accountable, working with Congress to create a private right of action for environmental harm, and imposing steep fines on violators that will be reinvested in impacted communities.
Elizabeth knows we need to elevate environmental justice at the highest levels. She’ll transform the Council on Environmental Quality into a Council on Climate Action with a broader mandate, including empowering frontline community leaders to speak directly to the White House.
In 1987, the United Church of Christ’s Commission on Racial Justice commissioned one of the first studies on hazardous waste in communities of color. A few years later — 28 years ago this month — delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit adopted 17 principles of environmental justice. But in the years since, the federal government has largely failed to live up to the vision these trailblazing leaders outlined, and to its responsibilities to the communities they represent.
From predominantly black neighborhoods in
Detroit to Navajo communities in
the southwest to Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, industrial
pollution has been concentrated in low-income communities for decades —
communities that the federal government has tacitly written off as so-called “sacrifice zones.” But
it’s not just about poverty, it’s also about race. A seminal study found
that black families are more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher
concentrations of air pollution than white families — even when they have the
same or more income. A more recent study found that while whites largely cause
air pollution, Blacks and Latinxs are more likely to breathe it in.
Unsurprisingly, these groups also experience higher rates of childhood asthma. And
many more low-income and minority communities are exposed to toxins in
their water — including lead and chemicals from industrial and agricultural
And these studies don’t tell the whole story. As I’ve
traveled this country, I’ve heard the human stories as well. In Detroit, I met
with community members diagnosed with cancer linked to exposure to toxins after
years of living in the shadow of a massive oil refinery. In New Hampshire, I
talked with mothers fighting for clean drinking water free of harmful PFAS
chemicals for their children. In South Carolina, I’ve heard the stories of the
most vulnerable coastal communities who face the greatest threats, from not
just sea-level rise, but a century of encroaching industrial polluters. In West
Virginia, I saw the consequences of the coal industry’s abandonment of the
communities that made their shareholders and their executives wealthy — stolen
pensions, poisoned miners, and ruined land and water.
We didn’t get here by accident. Our crisis of environmental
injustice is the result of decades of discrimination and environmental racism
compounding in communities that have been overlooked for too long. It is the
result of multiple choices that put corporate profits before people, while our
government looked the other way. It is unacceptable, and it must change.
Justice cannot be a secondary concern — it must be at the
center of our response to climate change. The Green New Deal commits us to a
“just transition” for all communities and all workers. But we won’t create true
justice by cleaning up polluted neighborhoods and tweaking a few regulations at
the EPA. We also need to prioritize communities that have experienced historic
disinvestment, across their range of needs: affordable housing, better
infrastructure, good schools, access to health care, and good jobs. We need
strong, resilient communities who are prepared and properly resourced to
withstand the impacts of climate change. We need big, bottom-up change —
focused on, and led by, members of these
No Community Left Behind
The same communities that have borne the brunt of industrial
pollution are now on the front lines of climate change, often getting hit first
and worst. In response, local community leaders are leading the fight to hold
polluters responsible and combat the effects of the climate crisis. In
Detroit’s 48217 zip code, for example, community members living in the midst of
industrial pollution told me how they have banded together to identify refinery
leakages and inform their neighbors. In Alabama and Mississippi, I met with
residents of formerly redlined neighborhoods who spoke to me about their fight
against drinking water pollution caused by inadequate municipal sewage systems.
Tribal Nations, which have been disproportionately impacted by environmental
racism and the effects of climate change, are leading the way in
climate resilience and adaptation strategies, and in supporting healthy
ecosystems. The federal government must do more to support and uplift the
efforts of these and other communities. Here’s how we can do that:
Improve environmental equity mapping. The EPA
currently maps communities
based on basic environmental and demographic indicators, but more can be done
across the federal government to identify at-risk communities. We need a
rigorous interagency effort to identify cumulative environmental health
disparities and climate vulnerabilities and cross-reference that data with
other indicators of socioeconomic health. We’ll use these data to adjust
permitting rules under Clean Air and Clean Water Act authorities to better
consider the impact of cumulative and overlapping pollution, and we’ll make
them publicly available online to help communities measure their own health.
Implement an equity screen for climate investments. Identifying
at-risk communities is only the first step. The Green New Deal will involve
deploying trillions of dollars to transform the way we source and use energy.
In doing so, the government must prioritize resources to support vulnerable
communities and remediate historic injustices. My friend Governor Jay Inslee
rightly challenged us to fund the most vulnerable communities first, and
both New York and California have
passed laws to direct funding specifically to frontline and fenceline
communities. The federal government should do the same. I’ll direct one-third
of my proposed climate investment into the most vulnerable communities — a
commitment that would funnel at least $1 trillion into these areas over the
Strengthen tools to mitigate environmental harms. Signed
into law in 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act provides the original
authority for many of our existing environmental protections. But even as
climate change has made it clear that we must eliminate our dependence on
fossil fuels, the Trump Administration has tried to weaken NEPA with
the goal of expediting even more fossil fuel infrastructure projects. At the
same time, the Trump Administration has moved to devalue the
consideration of climate impacts in all federal decisions. This is entirely
unacceptable in the face of the climate emergency our world is facing. As
president, I would mandate that all federal agencies consider climate impacts
in their permitting and rulemaking processes. Climate action needs to be mainstreamed
in everything the federal government does. But we also need a standard that
requires the government to do more than merely “assess” the environmental
impact of proposed projects — we need to mitigate negative environmental
Beyond that, a Warren Administration will do more to give the people who live
in a community a greater say in what is sited there — too often today, local
desires are discounted or disregarded. And when Tribal Nations are involved,
projects should not proceed unless developers have obtained the free, prior and
informed consent of the tribal governments concerned. I’ll use the full extent
of my executive authority under NEPA to protect these communities and give them
a voice in the process. And I’ll fight to improve the law to reflect the
realities of today’s climate crisis.
Build wealth in frontline communities. People of
color are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are vulnerable to climate
change risks or where they’re subject to environmental hazards like pollution.
That’s not a coincidence — decades of racist housing policy and officially
sanctioned segregation that denied people of color the opportunity to build
wealth also denied them the opportunity to choose the best neighborhood for
their families. Then, these same communities were targeted with the worst of
the worst mortgages before the financial crisis, while the government looked
the other way. My housing plan includes
a first-of-its-kind down-payment assistance program that provides grants to
long-term residents of formerly redlined communities so that they can buy homes
in the neighborhood of their choice and start to build wealth, beginning to
reverse that damage. It provides assistance to homeowners in these communities
who still owe more than their homes were worth, which can be used to preserve
their homes and revitalize their communities. These communities should have the
opportunity to lead us in the climate fight, and have access to the economic
opportunities created by the clean energy sector. With the right investments
and with community-led planning, we can lift up communities that have experienced
historic repression and racism, putting them on a path to a more resilient
Expand health care. People in frontline
communities disproportionately suffer from certain cancers and other illnesses
associated with environmental pollution. To make matters worse, they are less likely to have
access to quality health care. Under Medicare for All, everyone will have high
quality health care at a lower cost, allowing disadvantaged communities to get
lifesaving services. And beyond providing high quality coverage for all, the
simplified Medicare for All system will make it easier for the federal
government to quickly tailor health care responses to specific environmental
disasters in affected communities when they occur.
Research equity. For years we’ve invested in
broad-based strategies that are intended to lift all boats, but too often leave
communities of color behind. True justice calls for more than
‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions — instead we need targeted strategies that take
into account the unique challenges individual frontline communities face. I’ve
proposed a historic $400 billion investment
in clean energy research and development. We’ll use that funding to research
place-based interventions specifically targeting the communities that need more
No Worker Left Behind
The climate crisis will leave no one untouched. But it also
represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity: to create millions of
good-paying American jobs in clean and renewable energy, infrastructure, and
manufacturing; to unleash the best of American innovation and creativity; to
rebuild our unions and create real progress and justice for workers; and to
directly confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil
The task before us is huge and demands all of us to act. It
will require massive retrofits to our nation’s infrastructure and our
manufacturing base. It will also require readjusting our economic approach to
ensure that communities of color and others who have been systematically harmed
from our fossil fuel economy are not left further behind during the transition
to clean energy.
But it is also an opportunity. We’ll need millions of
workers: people who know how to build things and manufacture them; skilled and
experienced contractors to plan and execute large construction and engineering
projects; and training and joint labor management apprenticeships to ensure a
continuous supply of skilled, available workers. This can be a great moment of
national unity, of common purpose, of lives transformed for the better. But we
cannot succeed in fighting climate change unless the people who have the skills
to get the job done are in the room as full partners.
We also cannot fight climate change with a low-wage economy.
Workers should not be forced to make an impossible choice between fossil fuel
industry jobs with superior wages and benefits and green economy jobs that pay
far less. For too long, there has been a tension between transitioning to a
green economy and creating good, middle class, union jobs. In a Warren
Administration we will do both: creating good new jobs through investments in a
clean economy coupled with the strongest possible protections for workers. For
instance, my Green Manufacturing plan
makes a $1.5 trillion procurement commitment to domestic manufacturing
contingent on companies providing fair wages, paid family and medical leave,
fair scheduling practices, and collective bargaining rights. Similarly,
my 100% Clean Energy Plan will
require retrofitting our nation’s buildings, reengineering our electrical grid,
and adapting our manufacturing base — creating good, union jobs, with
prevailing wages determined through collective bargaining, for millions of
skilled and experienced workers.
Our commitment to a Green New Deal is a commitment to a
better future for the working people of our country. And it starts with a
real commitment to workers from the person sitting in the White House: I will
fight for your job, your family, and your community like I would my own. But
there’s so much more we can do to take care of America’s workers before,
during, and after this transition. Here are a few ways we can start:
Honor our commitment to fossil fuel workers. Coal
miners, oil rig workers, pipeline builders and millions of other workers have
given their life’s blood to build the infrastructure that powered the American
economy throughout the 20th century. In return, they deserve more than
platitudes — and if we expect them to use their skills to help reengineer
America, we owe them a fair day’s pay for the work we need them to do. I’m
committed to providing job training and guaranteed wage and benefit parity for
workers transitioning into new industries. And for those Americans who choose
not to find new employment and wish to retire with dignity, we’ll ensure full
financial security, including promised pensions and early retirement
Defend worker pensions, benefits, and secure retirement. Together,
we will ensure that employers and our government honor the promises they made
to workers in fossil fuel industries. I’ve fought for years to protect pensions
and health benefits for retired coal workers, and I’ll continue fighting to
maintain the solvency of multi-employer pension plans. As president, I’ll
protect those benefits that fossil fuel workers have earned. My plan to empower American workers commits
to defending pensions, recognizing the value of defined-benefit pensions, and
pushing to pass the Butch-Lewis Act to
create a loan program for the most financially distressed pension plans in the
country. And my Social Security plan
would increase benefits by $200 a month for every beneficiary, lifting nearly 5
million seniors out of poverty and expanding benefits for workers with
disabilities and their families.
Create joint safety-health committees. In 2016, more than 50,000 workers
died from occupational-related diseases. And since the beginning of his
administration, Trump has rolled back rules and regulations that limit exposure to certain
chemicals and requirements around facility safety inspections,
further jeopardizing workers and the community around them. When workers have
the power to keep themselves safe, they make their communities safer too. A
Warren Administration will reinstate the work safety rules and regulations
Trump eliminated, and will work to require large companies to create joint
safety-health committees with representation from workers and impacted communities.
Force fossil fuel companies to honor their obligations. As
a matter of justice, we should tighten bankruptcy laws to prevent coal and
other fossil fuel companies from evading their responsibility to their workers
and to the communities that they have helped to pollute. In the Senate, I have fought to
improve the standing of coal worker pensions and benefits in bankruptcy — as
president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these changes
And as part of our commitment, we must take care of all
workers, including those who were left behind decades ago by the fossil fuel
economy. Although Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal is the inspiration for this
full scale mobilization of the federal government to defeat the climate crisis,
it was not perfect. The truth is that too often, many New Deal agencies and
policies were tainted by structural racism. And as deindustrialization led to
prolonged disinvestment, communities of color were too often both the first to
lose their job base, and the first place policymakers thought of to dump the
refuse of the vanished industries. Now there is a real risk that poor
communities dependent on carbon fuels will be asked to bear the costs of
fighting climate change on their own. We must take care not to replicate the
failings and limitations of the original New Deal as we implement a Green New
Deal and transition our economy to 100% clean energy. Instead we need to build
an economy that works for every American — and leaves no one behind.
Prioritizing Environmental Justice at the Highest Levels
As we work to enact a Green New Deal, our commitment to
environmental justice cannot be an afterthought — it must be central to our
efforts to fight back against climate change. That means structuring our
government agencies to ensure that we’re centering frontline and fenceline
communities in implementing a just transition. It means ensuring that the most
vulnerable have a voice in decision-making that impacts their communities, and
direct access to the White House itself. Here’s how we’ll do that:
Elevate environmental justice at the White House.
I’ll transform the Council on Environmental Quality into a Council on Climate
Action with a broader mandate, including making environmental justice a
priority. I’ll update the 1994 executive order that
directed federal agencies to make achieving environmental justice part of their
missions, and revitalize the
cabinet-level interagency council on environmental justice. We will raise the
National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to report directly to the White
House, bringing in the voices of frontline community leaders at the highest
levels. And I will bring these leaders to the White House for an environmental
justice summit within my first 100 days in office, to honor the contributions
of frontline activists over decades in this fight and to listen to ideas for
how we can make progress.
Empower the EPA to support frontline communities. The
Trump Administration has proposed dramatic cuts to
the EPA, including to its Civil Rights office, and threatened to eliminate EPA’s
Office of Environmental Justice entirely. I’ll restore and grow both offices,
including by expanding the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE)
and Environmental Justice Small Grant programs. We’ll condition these
competitive grant funds on the development of state- and local-level
environmental justice plans, and ensure that regional EPA offices stay open to
provide support and capacity. But it’s not just a matter of size. Historically,
EPA’s Office of Civil Rights has rejected nine out of ten cases
brought to it for review. In a Warren Administration, we will aggressively
pursue cases of environmental discrimination wherever they occur.
Bolster the CDC to play a larger role in environmental
justice. The links between industrial pollution and negative public health
outcomes are clear. A Warren
Administration will fully fund the Center for Disease Control’s environmental
health programs, such as childhood lead poisoning prevention, and community
health investigations. We will also provide additional grant funding for
independent research into environmental health effects.
Diminish the influence of Big Oil. Powerful
corporations rig the system to work for themselves, exploiting and influencing
the regulatory process and placing industry representatives in positions of
decision-making authority within agencies. My plan to end Washington corruption would
slam shut the revolving door between industry and government, reducing
industry’s ability to influence the regulatory process and ensuring that the
rules promulgated by our environmental agencies reflect the needs of
communities, not the fossil fuel industry.
Right to Affordable Energy and Clean Water
Nearly one-third of
American households struggle to pay their energy bills, and Native American,
Black, and Latinx households are more likely to be energy insecure. Renters are
also often disadvantaged by landlords unwilling to invest in safer buildings,
weatherization, or cheaper energy. And clean energy adoption is unequal along
racial lines, even after accounting for differences in wealth. I have a plan to move the
United States to 100% clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy in electricity
generation by 2035 — but energy justice must be an integral part of our
transition to clean energy. Here’s what that means:
Address high energy cost burdens. Low-income
families, particularly in rural areas, are spending too much of their
income on energy, often the result of older or mobile homes that are not
weatherized or that lack energy efficient upgrades. I’ve committed to meet
Governor Inslee’s goal of retrofitting 4% of U.S. buildings annually to
increase energy efficiency — and we’ll start that national initiative by
prioritizing frontline and fenceline communities. In addition, my housing plan
includes over $10 billion in competitive grant programs for communities that invest
in well-located affordable housing — funding that can be used for
modernization and weatherization of homes, infrastructure, and schools. It also
targets additional funding to tribal governments, rural communities, and
jurisdictions — often majority minority — where homeowners are still
struggling with the aftermath of the
2008 housing crash. Energy retrofits can be a large source of green jobs, and
I’m committed to ensuring that these are good jobs, with full federal labor
protections and the right to organize.
Support community power. Consumer-owned energy
cooperatives, many of which were established to electrify rural areas during
the New Deal, serve an estimated 42 million people
across our country. While some co-ops are beginning to transition their assets
to renewable energy resources, too many are locked
into long-term contracts that make them dependent on coal and other dirty fuels
for their power. To speed the transition to clean energy, my administration
will offer assistance to write down debt and restructure loans to help
cooperatives get out of long-term coal contracts, and provide additional low-
or no-cost financing for zero-carbon electricity generation and transmission
projects for cooperatives via the Rural Utilities Service. I’ll work with
Congress to extend and expand clean energy bonds to
allow community groups and nonprofits without tax revenue to access clean
energy incentives. I’ll also provide dedicated support for the four Power Marketing
Administrations, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Appalachian Regional
Commission to help them build publicly-owned clean energy assets and deploy
clean power to help communities transition off fossil fuels. Accelerating the
transition to clean energy will both reduce carbon emissions, clean up our
air, and help bring down rural consumers’ utility bills.
Protect local equities. Communities that host large
energy projects are entitled to receive a share of the benefits. But too often,
large energy companies are offered millions in tax subsidies to locate in a
particular area — without any commitment that they will make a corresponding
commitment in that community. Community Benefit Agreements can help address
power imbalances between project developers and low-income communities by
setting labor, environmental, and transparency standards before work begins.
I’ll make additional federal subsidies or tax benefits for large utility
projects contingent on strong Community Benefits Agreements, which should
include requirements for prevailing wages and collective bargaining rights. And
I’ll insist on a clawback provision if a company doesn’t hold up its end of the
deal. If developers work with communities to ensure that everyone benefits from
clean energy development, we will be able to reduce our emissions faster.
It’s simple: access to clean water is a basic human right.
Water quality is an issue in both urban and rural communities. In rural areas,
for example, runoff into rivers and streams by Big Agriculture has poisoned local
drinking water. In urban areas, lack of infrastructure investment has resulted
in lead and other poisons seeping
into aging community water systems. We need to take action to protect our
drinking water. Here’s how we can do that:
Invest in our nation’s public water systems.
America’s water is a public asset and should be owned by and for the public. A
Warren Administration will end decades of disinvestment and privatization of
our nation’s water system — our government at every level should invest in
safe, affordable drinking water for all of us.
Increase and enforce water quality standards. Our
government should enforce strict regulations to ensure clean water is available
to all Americans. I’ll restore the Obama-era water rule that protected our
lakes, rivers, and streams, and the drinking water they provide. We also need a
strong and nationwide safe drinking water standard that covers PFAS and other
chemicals. A Warren Administration will fully enforce Safe Drinking Water Act
standards for all public water systems. I’ll aggressively regulate chemicals
that make their way into our water supply, including by designating PFAS as a
Fund access to clean water. Our clean drinking water
challenge goes beyond lead, and beyond Flint and Newark. To respond, a Warren
Administration will commit to fully capitalize the Drinking Water State
Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to refurbish old water
infrastructure and support ongoing water treatment operations and maintenance,
prioritizing the communities most heavily impacted by inadequate water
infrastructure. In rural areas, I’ll increase funding for the Conservation
Stewardship Program to $15 billion annually, empowering family farmers to help
limit the agricultural runoff that harms local wells and water systems. To
address lead specifically, we will establish a lead abatement grant program
with a focus on schools and daycare centers, and commit to remediating lead in
all federal buildings. We’ll provide a Lead Safety Tax Credit for homeowners to
invest in remediation. And a Warren Administration will also fully fund IDEA
and other support programs that help children with developmental challenges as
a result of lead exposure.
Protecting the Most Vulnerable During Climate-Related
In 2018, the U.S. was home to the world’s three costliest environmental
catastrophes. And while any community can be hit by a hurricane, flood, extreme
weather, or fire, the impact of these kinds of disasters are particularly
devastating for low-income communities, people with disabilities,
and people of color. Take
Puerto Rico for example. When Hurricane Maria hit the island, decades of racism
and neglect were multiplied by the government’s failure to prepare
and Trump’s racist post-disaster response —
resulting in the deaths of at least 3,000 Puerto
Ricans and long-term harm to many more. Even as we fight climate change, we
must also prepare for its impacts — building resiliency not just in some
communities, but everywhere. Here’s how we can start to do that:
Invest in pre-disaster mitigation. For every dollar
invested in mitigation, the government and communities save $6 overall. But
true to form, the Trump Administration has proposed to steep cuts to
FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, abandoning communities just as the risk
of climate-related disasters is on the rise. As president, I’ll invest in
programs that help vulnerable communities build resiliency by quintupling this
Better prepare for flood events. When I visited
Pacific Junction, Iowa, I saw scenes of devastation: crops ruined for the
season, cars permanently stalled, a water line 7 or 8 feet high in residents’
living rooms. And many residents in Pacific Junction fear that this could
happen all over again next year.
Local governments rely on FEMA’s flood maps, but some of these maps haven’t
been updated in decades. In my first
term as president, I will direct FEMA to fully update flood maps with
forward-looking data, prioritizing and including frontline communities in this
process. We’ll raise standards for new construction, including by reinstating
the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. And we’ll make it easier for
vulnerable residents to move out of flood-prone properties — including by
buying back those properties for low-income homeowners at a value that will
allow them to relocate, and then tearing down the flood-prone properties, so we
can protect everyone.
Mitigate wildfire risk. We must also invest in
improved fire mapping and prevention programs. In a Warren Administration, we
will dramatically improve fire mapping and prevention by investing in advanced
modeling with a focus on helping the most vulnerable — incorporating not only
fire vulnerability but community demographics. We will prioritize these data to
invest in land management, particularly near the most vulnerable communities,
supporting forest restoration, lowering fire risk, and creating jobs all at
once. We will also invest in microgrid technology, so that we can de-energize
high-risk areas when required without impacting the larger community’s energy
supply. And as president, I will collaborate with Tribal governments on land
management practices to reduce wildfires, including by incorporating
traditional ecological practices and exploring co-management and the return of
public resources to indigenous protection wherever possible.
Prioritize at-risk populations in disaster planning and
response. When the most deadly fire in California’s history struck the town
of Paradise last November, a majority of the
victims were disabled or elderly. People with disabilities face increased difficulties in
evacuation assistance and accessing critical medical care. For people who are
homeless, disasters exacerbate existing
challenges around housing and health. And fear of deportation can deter undocumented
people from contacting emergency services for help evacuating or from going to
an emergency shelter. As president, I will strengthen rules to require disaster
response plans to uphold the rights of vulnerable populations. In my immigration plan, I
committed to putting in place strict guidelines to protect sensitive locations,
including emergency shelters. We’ll also develop best practices at the federal
level to help state and local governments develop plans for at-risk communities
— including for extreme heat or cold — and require that evacuation services
and shelters are fully accessible to people with disabilities. During
emergencies, we will work to ensure that critical information is shared in ways
that reflect the diverse needs of people with disabilities and other at-risk
communities, including through ASL and Braille and languages spoken in the
community. We will establish a National Commission on Disability Rights and
Disasters, ensure that federal disaster spending is ADA compliant, and support
people with disabilities in disaster planning. We will make certain that
individuals have ongoing access to health care services if they have to leave
their community or if there is a disruption in care. And we will ensure
that a sufficient number of disability specialists are present in state
emergency management teams and FEMA’s disaster response corps.
Ensure a just and equitable recovery. In the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,
disaster scammers and profiteers swarmed, capitalizing on others’ suffering to
make a quick buck. And after George W. Bush suspended the
Davis-Bacon Act, the doors were opened for contractors to under-pay and subject
workers to dangerous working conditions, particularly low-income and immigrant
workers. As president, I’ll put strong protections in place to ensure that
federal tax dollars go toward community recovery, not to line the pockets of
contractors. And we must maintain high standards for workers even when disaster
Studies show that the white and wealthy receive
more federal disaster aid, even though they are most able to financially
withstand a disaster. This is particularly true when it comes to housing —
FEMA’s programs are designed to protect homeowners, even as homeownership
has slipped out of reach for
an increasing number of Americans. As president, I will reform post-disaster
housing assistance to better protect renters, including a commitment to a
minimum of one-to-one replacement for any damaged federally-subsidized
affordable housing, to better protect low-income families. I will work with
Congress to amend the Stafford Act to make grant funding more flexible to allow
families and communities to rebuild in more resilient ways. And we will
establish a competitive grant program, based on the post-Sandy Rebuild by Design pilot,
to offer states and local governments the opportunity to compete for additional
funding for creative resilience projects.
Under a Warren Administration, we will monitor post-disaster recovery to help
states and local governments better understand the long-term consequences and
effectiveness of differing recovery strategies, including how to address climate gentrification,
to ensure equitable recovery for all communities. We’ll center a right to
return for individuals who have been displaced during a disaster and prioritize
the voices of frontline communities in the planning of their return or
relocation. And while relocation should be a last resort, when it occurs, we
must improve living standards and keep communities together whenever possible.
Holding Polluters Accountable
In Manchester, Texas, Hurricane Harvey’s damage wasn’t
apparent until after the storm had passed — when a thick, chemical smell
started wafting through the majority Latinx community, which is surrounded by
nearly 30 refineries and
chemical plants. A tanker failure had released 1,188 pounds of
benzene into the air, one of at least one hundred area leaks that happened in
Harvey’s aftermath. But because regulators had turned off air
quality and toxic monitoring in anticipation of the storm, the leaks went
unnoticed and the community uninformed.
This should have never been allowed to happen. But
Manchester is also subject to 484,000 pounds of
toxic chemical leaks on an average year. That’s not just a tragedy — it’s an
outrage. We must hold polluters accountable for their role in ongoing, systemic
damage in frontline communities. As president, I will use all my authorities to
hold companies accountable for their role in the climate crisis. Here’s how we
can do that:
Exercise all the oversight tools of the federal
government. A Warren Administration will encourage the EPA and Department
of Justice to aggressively go after corporate polluters, particularly in cases
of environmental discrimination. We need real consequences for corporate
polluters that break our environmental law. That means steep fines, which we
will reinvest in impacted communities. And under my Corporate Executive Accountability
Act, we’ll press for criminal penalties for executives when their
companies hurt people through criminal negligence.
Use the power of the courts. Thanks to a Supreme
Court decision, companies are
often let completely off the hook, even when their operations inflict harm on
thousands of victims each year. I’ll work with Congress to create a private
right of action for environmental harm at the federal level, allowing individuals
and communities impacted by environmental discrimination to sue for damages and
hold corporate polluters accountable.
Reinstitute the Superfund Waste Tax. There are over 1300 remaining
Superfund sites across the country, many located in or adjacent to frontline
communities. So-called “orphan” toxic waste clean-ups were originally funded by
a series of excise taxes on the petroleum and chemical industries. But thanks
to Big Oil and other industry lobbyists, when that tax authority expired in
1995 it was not renewed. Polluters must pay for the consequences of their
actions — not leave them for the communities to clean up. I’ll work with
Congress to reinstate and then triple the Superfund tax, generating needed
revenue to clean up the mess.
Hold the finance industry accountable for its role in the
climate crisis. Financial institutions and the insurance industry underwrite
and fund fossil fuel investments around the world, and can play a key role in
stopping the climate crisis. Earlier this year, Chubb became the
first U.S. insurer to commit to stop insuring coal projects, a welcome
development. Unfortunately, many banks and insurers seem to be moving in the
opposite direction. In fact, since the Paris Agreement was signed, U.S. banks
including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Bank of America have
actually increased their
fossil fuel investments. And there is evidence that big banks are replicating a tactic they
first employed prior to the 2008 crash — shielding themselves from climate
losses by selling the mortgages most at risk from climate impacts to Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac to shift the burden off their books and onto taxpayers at a
To accelerate the transition to clean energy, my Climate Risk Disclosure Act would
require banks and other companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions
and price their exposure to climate risk into their valuations, raising public
awareness of just how dependent our economy is on fossil fuels. And let me be
clear: in a Warren Administration, they will no longer be allowed to shift that
burden to the rest of us.
Some of the biggest names
in the video games industry, with a combined audience of 970 million players, have
formally committed to harness the power of their platforms to take action in
response to the climate crisis. Combined, these commitments from 21 companies
will result in a 30 million ton reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, will see
millions of trees planted, new “green nudges” in game design and improvements
to energy management, packaging, and device recycling.
These voluntary commitments were
announced at UN Headquarters on the side-lines of the UN Secretary-General’s
Climate Action Summit. Under the banner of the Playing for the Planet Alliance,
CEOs from 14 platforms and games makers, including Sony Interactive
Entertainment, Microsoft, Google Stadia, Rovio, Supercell, Sybo, Ubisoft and
WildWorks, were present to showcase their commitments. The Alliance intends to
support companies in sharing learning and monitoring progress on the
“The video games industry has the
ability to engage, inspire and captivate the imaginations of billions of people
across the world. This makes them a hugely important partner in addressing the
climate emergency,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment
Programme (UNEP). “We are encouraged by the commitment of these gaming
companies, which shows recognition that we all must play our role in the global
effort to lower carbon emissions and effect real change towards
These commitments were facilitated by
UNEP with the support of Playmob and following the GRID-Arendal study Playing
For The Planet, which outlines how the video games
industry, which reaches 2.6 billion people globally, can support action on the
“Today at the UN Climate Summit, I am
honored and feel privileged to join leaders in the gaming industry to make
commitments to contribute to the efforts of the UN,” said Jim Ryan, President
and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment. “At PlayStation, we believe games
have the power to ignite social change through educating people, evoking
emotions, and inspiring hope. We could not be prouder to be part of the Playing
for the Planet Alliance and we look forward to seeing what the industry can
“Climate change is impacting each
industry and every sector, and we believe technology can play a critical role
in enabling and empowering the response to this challenge,” said Phil Spencer,
executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft. “Initiatives like our
Minecraft Build a Better World Campaign and CarbonNeutral Xbox pilot provide a
great opportunity to tap into Microsoft’s technology sustainability and gaming
community to make a difference in this key area of our business.”
The commitments include:
Sony Interactive Entertainment will
unveil new progress and plans to utilize energy efficient technology (on-track
to avoid 29 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030), to introduce low power
suspend mode for next generation PlayStation, to assess and report their carbon
footprint and to educate and inspire the gaming community to take action on
Microsoft will announce the
expansion of its existing operational commitment to carbon neutrality,
established in 2012, into its devices and gaming work. It will set a new target
to reduce its supply chain emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 – including
end-of-life for devices – and to certify 825,000 Xbox consoles as carbon
neutral in a pilot program. In addition, Microsoft will engage gamers in
sustainability efforts in real life through the Minecraft its ‘Build a Better
World’ initiative, which has seen players take more than 20 million in-game
Google Stadia, which is set to
launch later in the year, will produce a new Sustainable Game Development Guide
as well as funding research into how “green nudges” can be effectively
incorporated into game play.
Supercell (Clash of Clans) will
offset the entire footprint of their community, Rovio (Angry Birds)
has offset the carbon impact from their players charging their devices,
and Sybo (Subway Surfer) and Space Ape (Fastlane) will
offset 200 per cent of their studio and their gamers mobile energy use.
Guidance documents will assist other companies to take similar actions.
Wild Works (Animal Jam) will
integrate restoration elements in games and, like Green Man Gaming, they
will focus on restoring some of the world’s forests with major tree-planting
Ubisoft will develop in-game
green themes and will source materials from eco-friendly
factories and Sports Interactive will eliminate 20 tonnes of
packaging by switching from plastic to a recycled alternative for all future
Football Manager releases.
Creative Mobile’s ZooCraft will
evolve into a conservation-focused game with Reliance Games (Little
Singham) generating awareness in the fastest growing mobile gaming market
by creating awareness with kids to make them ambassadors for climate change
with in-game events and initiatives across India. The biggest independent gaming
platform in China, iDreamSky has committed to putting green nudges
into its games.
E-Line Media (Never Alone, Beyond
Blue), Strange Loop (Eco) and Internet of Elephants (Safari
Central) will share their expertise of making high impact environmentally oriented
games into the Alliance
Finally, Twitch have
committed to utilizing their platform to spread this message to the global
gaming community with Niantic Inc (Pokemon Go) committing to engage
their community to act around sustainability issues.
campaigns connected to our Angry Birds games and movies over the years, we know
our fans are just as angry as us about climate change,” said Kati
Levoranta, Rovio Entertainment CEO. “Considering the enormity of the
environmental challenges that face us in years to come, we as an industry must
stand with our players and be evangelists for action.”
Too often, there can be a trade-off
between games that are designed to be educational but without reaching the
masses. To address this, many of the companies will host design-jams with their
creatives to consider how they can mindfully incentivize better environmental
outcomes within the games, without limiting the fun and enjoyment for players.
Speaking in support of this
initiative, Mathias Gredal Norvig, CEO of Sybo, the organization behind Subway
Surfer, said: “Video gaming might seem like an unlikely ally in this
battle, but this Alliance is a critical platform where all of us can play our
part to decarbonize our impact and bring the issues into gameplay. I am a
strong believer in sparking curiosity and conversations wherever people are,
and with 2 billion people playing games, this platform has a reach that’s
second to none.”
Amit Khanduja, CEO of Reliance Games,
said: “The Mobile Games industry has to take the lead in the emerging
markets to raise awareness among the next billion gamers coming online to lead
the way for climate change. We are honoured to be part of this strong UN
initiative for a better tomorrow.”
Members of the Alliance that have made
commitments include: Creative Mobile, E-Line Media, Google Stadia, Green Man
Gaming, iDreamSky, Internet of Elephants, Microsoft, Niantic Inc, Pixelberry,
Reliance Games, Rovio, Space Ape, Sports Interactive, Supercell, Sony
Interactive Entertainment, Strange Loop, Sybo, Twitch, Ubisoft, WildWorks and
will be supported by Playmob.
There was the sense at the United
Nations Climate Action Summit that took place September 23, that the Trump
Administration – but not the United States – is irrelevant to the crusade to
mitigate the most devastating impacts of climate change. Indeed, the rest of
the world, American states, localities and businesses, is forging full steam
ahead to prevent the earth from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius – and all
the devastation that would result – within the next 12 years.
“We know why tackling climate change is important”, said Deputy
Secretary-General Amina Mohammed before the Climate Action Summit began. “The
devastation wreaked by Dorian on the Bahamas, what the Secretary-General called
a Category Hell hurricane, is a glimpse into one aspect of a future powered by
climate change – a future with super storms that grow in intensity and
frequency, where those countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions,
continue to feel the worst impacts of the planet’s rising temperatures.”
“The summit will present practical and new measures, speed transition from
coal to clean energy, cut pollution harming health, protect nature, unlock the potential
of nature to deliver on climate, create cleaner greener waste, speed up transition
from grey to green economies, mitigate impacts of climate change, leave no one
behind, transition must be ramped up now,” she said at a press briefing before
The Climate Action Summit was
designed to showcase only the boldest, transformative actions – specifics, not
hyperbole or speechifying.
“We will see what climate leadership
looks like – progress toward carbon neutral future.”
Trump snubbed the summit, choosing instead to host a Religious Freedom Forum, and highlighted America’s military might but did not mention climate change once, in his address to the General Assembly. But just about every other leader did refer to the critical need and their commitment to climate action in their speech.
we afford to ignore the crisis of extinction, or will we do the right thing,
support energies and talents of all the world’s youth and drive all the
economies forward to fair and inclusive society?” Abdullah
II bin Al–Hussein, King of Jordan, declared. “What will our world
become if we do not work together for a healthy and safe climate. We already
know the dangers of climate change – how can we excuse [inaction]”
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, president of
Croatia, declared, “Climate
change- rising sea levels – is the greatest threat. Without protection of
waters and marine life, there will be nothing to leave.”
Russia, one of the few holdouts and
one of the world’s largest carbon emitters with an economy largely based on
fossil fuel extraction and export, used the occasion to officially adopt the
Paris Climate Agreement. The document signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says
Russia will now “allocate financial resources… to developing countries
for prevention and adaptation to climate change. The threat of climate change
is (the) destruction of the ecological balance, increased risks for successful
development of key industries… and most importantly, threat to safety of
people living on permafrost and increase of natural disasters.”
Governor Janet Mills of Maine challenged
leaders of the world to take action against climate change, saying the State of
Maine will do its part and announcing that she has signed an Executive Order
committing the state to carbon neutrality by 2045.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced
New York State is pursuing partnerships with Ireland and Denmark that will lead
to improved electric infrastructure and the advancement of more renewable
energy sources, including offshore wind. The agreements were announced during
Climate Week and will advance both New York’s nation-leading plan to combat
climate change and the Governor’s Green New Deal agenda. This summer,
Governor Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,
which mandates New York’s power be 100 percent clean and carbon-free by 2040. New
York is one of 25 states including California that have formed the US Climate
Alliance (USclimatealliance.org) to
uphold the Paris Agreement. – collectively representing over 50% of the US
population and 60% of the United States’
Mohammed acknowledged that the transition “is not one-size fits all
– in some countries, renewable energy is already cheaper than coal; others need
funding options. It’s not enough that we stop funding coal and actively move to
making renewable possible –there is tension there. We must be realistic – you can’t
click fingers and create a renewable grid overnight but we also determined there
are over 100 coal plants in pipeline and emissions are still rising – that pathway
is a serious threat to human survival.”
Informed by the perspectives of more than 130 Governments, a newly issued
report, The Heat is On – Taking Stock of Global Climate Ambition,
reveals that business as usual, is not good enough and requires more
mitigation, adaptation and finance – all which must be done quickly.
“When I look back on this Climate
Action Summit, I want us to see it as a sling shot – that helped to change our
common trajectory towards sustainability”, said Ms. Mohammed, building trust
“between this generation of adults and the next – between our children and
ourselves – that we are all working together to our fullest potential to tackle
the climate emergency”.
She recapped that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report
stressed the need to ensure that “the global temperature rise does not go
beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius” through “cutting emissions by 45 per cent by 2030”,
warning that “we have very little time to take the decisions needed to get
Those decisions should be set out in each country’s Nationally Determined
Contributions (NDCs) on climate change, which she called “the cornerstone of
“The world’s poorest 1 billion, we
are least responsible for climate crisis – emitting less than 1% of global
emissions, yet, our small gross national
incomes and limited resources means we suffer the most,” said Sonam P.
Wangdi, Secretary of the National Environment Commission, Bhutan.
States, with only 5% of the population is responsible for 25% of carbon
emissions, and the present administration, which hides behind science denial in
order to preserve the status quo of their economic systems, will have a huge
impact on whether the efforts made by 190 countries succeed in preserving the
planet. But though the government was a no-show at the Climate Action Summit,
states, localities and business interests were on hand, offering their
commitments so that the United States will achieve the goals of the Paris
Climate Agreement led by Obama and rejected by Trump.
was just as if the world has moved on, rendering the United States irrelevant.
The thought of holding the US accountable for reparations when an island nation
like the Bahamas is devastated by Hurricane Dorian, was discounted. “Who would
enforce a decision?” said Wilfred P.
Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Belize, a statement made from the
experience of Trinidad & Tobago which won a judgment against the US in the
World Trade Organization that has yet to be paid.
Developing States are stepping up and striking back.
“The recent activity of Dorian in Bahamas – devastated that island, and unless you really have experience this kind of devastation it is hard to appreciate how difficult, how absolutely destructive it is,” said Elrington, recalling his own terror at the age of 4 years old when a Category 4 hurricane hit. “From one moment being in a safe, secure structure or building, the next to be completely out in environment with absolutely nothing – you have absolutely nothing – no clothes, medicine, food, completely at the mercy of God. We think of the damage to human beings and the destruction, but equally tragic is the destruction done to floral and fauna – exceedingly depressing to see the entire landscape devastated and and of course, does not come back quickly.”
Apart from saving habitats, climate
mitigation and adaptation has the added benefit of addressing poverty and
inequality, in part perpetuated by the cost – and reliance –on fossil fuels as
the basis for an economy. Shifting to clean, renewable like solar, wind, water,
geothermal, lowers the expenditure and increases the independence from
concentrated utility companies. Eliminating fossil fuels also reduces pollution
and improves health.
worldwide pressure – by citizens and consumers – the private sector is being
forced to take action as well. Sixteen
countries are phasing out gasoline-powered cars over the next several years,
rendering US-manufactured cars unexportable, regardless of how Trump attempts
to overturn California’s call for higher fuel efficiency standards and lower
Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment
Just announced, “first of its kind,” Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment “will transform mainstream infrastructure investment and drive a permanent shift toward climate resilient economy for all countries, but especially for low and mid income countries which bear the brunt,” said John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson, one of the world’s largest insurance companies. One of the ways it will change the way money is invested in business ventures and infrastructure is by creating new data analytics that incorporate the cost-benefit of climate adaptation, mitigation and resiliency into the model. “Rapid advancement in data analytics, coupled in momentum of regulatory initiatives and growing pressure from global society is what allows this initiative to be as ambitious as it is.”
He said, “I come from the world of
insurance. We work on a lot of analytical tools to price the effect of climate
disasters. We will take those kind of analytical tools and build them into
understanding what kind of investments we should make in infrastructure – measure
the impacts of climate on infrastructure everywhere in the world – more
important in vulnerable communities but everywhere in the world [including US,
where former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has been saying the very thing in
pushing for a carbon tax].
“Pricing the risks
posed by climate change will create opportunities to build a network of
resilient infrastructure in high, medium and low-income countries, enabling us
to better prevent future human and financial disasters.”
The coalition will
develop case studies to build the business case, and identify the critical
enabling environments, for climate resilient infrastructure investment.
By the end of
2020, analytical tools including a physical risk pricing framework and
methodology to prioritize national resilient investment needs, will be
developed, alongside a range of instruments to prevent capital flight from
Biggest Names in Video Game Industry
Commit to Climate Action
in a major mind-blowing commitment, 21 of the biggest names in the video games
industry, with a combined audience of 970 million players, formally committed
to harness the power of their platforms to take action in response to the
climate crisis. Combined, these commitments will result in a 30 million ton
reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, will see millions of trees planted, new
“green nudges” in game design and improvements to energy management, packaging,
and device recycling. Equally significantly, under
the banner of Playing for the Planet Alliance, many will incorporate
sustainability and climate action into the games, themselves, letting gamers,
for example, toy with building sustainable societies.
voluntary commitments were announced during the UN Climate Action Summit. CEOs
from 14 platforms and games makers, including Sony Interactive Entertainment,
Microsoft, Google Stadia, Rovio, Supercell, Sybo, Ubisoft and WildWorks, were
present to showcase their commitments. The Alliance intends to support
companies in sharing learning and monitoring progress on the environmental
Clearly the world’s leaders are finally listening to the rising tide of civic actions, including an outpouring of youth activists, not asking but demanding action on climate change – preventing the planet from heating more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, mitigating and adapting to the impacts of global warming, from rising sea levels, more frequent and violent superstorms, wildfires, droughts, floods and famines, extinction of wildlife and plants due to lost habitats, and the health impacts due to the spread of epidemics, disease and illness.
Major announcements by government and private sector
leaders during the course of the day-long United Nations Climate Action Summit,
September 23, boosted climate action momentum, and demonstrated growing
recognition that the pace of climate action must be rapidly accelerated.
77 countries committed to cut greenhouse gas
emissions to net zero by 2050, while 70 countries announced they will either
boost their national action plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing
Over 100 business leaders delivered concrete actions
to align with the Paris Agreement targets, and speed up the transition from the
grey to green economy, including asset-owners holding over $2 trillion in
assets and leading companies with combined value also over $2 trillion.
Many countries and over 100 cities – including many
of the world’s largest – announced significant and concrete new steps to combat
the climate crisis.
Many smaller countries, including Small Island
Developing States and Least Developed Countries, were among those who made the
biggest pledges, despite the fact they have contributed the least to the
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, closing the
Summit, said “You have delivered a boost in momentum, cooperation and ambition.
But we have a long way to go. We need more concrete plans, more ambition from
more countries and more businesses. We need all financial institutions, public
and private, to choose, once and for all, the green economy.”
including Greta Thunberg, who in an impassioned address that followed a
worldwide Climate Strike, said, “We will be watching,” drove home the urgency
of greater action by leaders, and their determination to hold leaders to
Among the major announcements:
• France announced that it would not enter into any
trade agreement with countries that have policies counter to the Paris
• Germany committed to carbon neutrality by 2050
• Russia, one of the few holdouts
and one of the world’s largest carbon emitters, with an economy largely based
on fossil fuel extraction and export, adopted the Paris Climate Agreement.
• 12 countries made financial
commitments to the Green Climate Fund, the official financial mechanism to
assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter
climate change. This is in addition to recent announcements from Norway,
Germany, France and the United Kingdom who have recently doubled their present
• The United Kingdom made a major additional
contribution, doubling its overall international climate finance to L11.6
billion for the period from 2020 to 2025.
• India pledged to increase renewable energy
capacity to 175gw by 2022 and committed to further increasing to 450GW, and
announced that 80 countries have joined the International Solar Alliance.
• China said it would cut emissions by over 12
billion tons annually, and would pursue a path of high quality growth and low
• The European Union announced at least 25% of the
next EU budget will be devoted to climate-related activities.
• The Russian Federation announced that they will
ratify the Paris Agreement, bringing the total number of countries that have
joined the Agreement to 187.
• Pakistan said it would plant more than 10 billion
trees over the next five years. On unprecedented levels of private sector
• A group of the world’s largest asset-owners —
responsible for directing more than $2 trillion in investments — committed to
move to carbon-neutral investment portfolios by 2050.
• 87 major companies with a combined market
capitalization of over US$ 2.3 trillion pledged to reduce emissions and align
their businesses with what scientists say is needed to limit the worst impacts
of climate change—a 1.5°C future.
• 130 banks – one-third of the global banking sector
– signed up to align their businesses with the Paris agreement goals On
transitioning from brown to green energy:
• Michael Bloomberg will increase the funding and
geographic spread of his coal phase out efforts to 30 countries. Already, his
work has helped to close 297 out of 530 coal plants in the US.
• Countries, including France and New Zealand,
announced that they will not allow oil or gas exploration on their lands or
• Heads of State from Finland, Germany, Greece,
Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, and Slovakia, are among those
that announced that they will work to phase out coal. The Republic of Korea
announced it would shut down four coal-fired power plants, and six more will be
closed by 2022, as well as the doubling of its contribution to the Green
• The Summit also delivered critical platforms for
improving energy efficiency and reducing the growing energy needs for cooling,
with the “Three Percent Club” coalition working to drive a three percent annual
global increase in energy efficiency and the Cool Coalition setting ambitious
national cooling targets for its members with the potential to deliver up to 1
degree on the pathway to a 2050 net zero carbon world. On scaling up financing
and unlocking barriers to funds:
• Many countries announced new contributions to the
Green Climate Fund, the official financial mechanism to assist developing
countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change,
with several countries, including France, Germany, Norway and the United
Kingdom, announcing that they would double their present contributions.
• Further, the Climate Investment Platform,
officially announced during the Summit, will seek to directly mobilize US$ 1
trillion in clean energy investment by 2025 in 20 Least Developed Countries in
its first year.
• The African Development Bank said it was doubling
its climate-related financing to $25 billion by 2025. Funding will go to
projects including a multi-billion initiative to develop 10,000 megawatts of
solar power from the Sahara that will provide electricity to 250 million
a difference a green, more prosperous, resilient, peaceful and secure future
will mean,” said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President, African
• Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment – just announced and the first of its kind – “will transform mainstream infrastructure investment and drive a permanent shift toward climate resilient economy for all countries, but especially for low and mid income countries which bear the brunt” by providing data analytical tools to price in the cost of climate resiliency into investments, said John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson, one of the world’s largest insurance companies.
• The state of Maine committed to carbon
neutrality by 2045.
• Summit initiatives were designed to ensure the
actions undertaken would be fair for all, supporting jobs and clear air for
better health, and protect the most vulnerable, as well as new initiatives on
adaptation, agriculture and early warning systems that will protect 500 million
additional people against the impacts of climate change.
New initiatives announced have been designed to be scaled up to deliver
impact at the global scale needed. The Secretary-General urged governments,
businesses and people everywhere to join the initiatives announced at the
Summit, and promised to “keep pushing” for greater ambition and action.
The Secretary-General committed the UN system to
support implementation of plans presented at the Summit, with an initial report
to be delivered at COP25 in Santiago, Chile.