On Tuesday, former Vice President and current 2020 candidate Joe Biden unveiled his climate change plan, which he calls the “Clean Energy Revolution.” To a large degree, his plan is a repackaged Green New Deal: calling for the same extreme goals but with more pro-America and pro-worker messaging. In his launch video, Biden also works hard to show he was a leader on climate alarmism long before any of the other candidates.
Even the beginning of Biden’s “Clean Energy Revolution” launch video is upbeat: “Nothing gives me more hope for the future than seeing my five grandchildren challenge expectations. They see breakthroughs in technology we can’t even yet imagine, but the only way they’re going to get a chance to fulfill all that potential is if we take drastic action right now to address the climate disaster facing the nation and our world.”
Naturally, the video does not address the long history of climate alarmist’s failed predictions, from concrete temperature claims to the prophecy of the Maldives sinking beneath the waves (2018 came and went, but the Maldives are still here). Instead, alarmists like Biden merely point to storms and fires as “proof,” as if the predictions didn’t even exist.
As the video goes on, Biden lays out a drastic plan to address the issue, taking pointers from the Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face. It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected,” the plan says.
Yet Biden lifts more than just these from the Green New Deal. He also adopts the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by the year 2050. “We’re going to invest $1.7 trillion in securing our future so that by 2050, the United States will be 100 percent clean energy economy with net-zero emissions,” the candidate says in the video.
The former vice president adds a few things Ocasio-Cortez would not have thought of. “By the end of my first term, we’re going to have an enforcement mechanism in place to make sure we stay on track to get there,” he adds. This would make sure those pesky Republicans who don’t want to derail America’s economy can’t prevent the march to the Stone Age if they beat Biden in 2024.
Naturally, the 2020 candidate also called for handouts for the green-industrial complex. “We’re going to make record-breaking investments in research and development and zero carbon technologies, so that America is the engine of the world’s clean energy economy, exporting cutting-edge equipment stamped ‘Made in the USA’ to help other nations reduce emissions and mitigate and adapt,” Biden said.
Myron Ebell, director at the Center for Energy and the Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), explained that this is one of the key goals of climate alarmist policy. “Global warming might become a problem but it’s not a crisis,” Ebell told PJ Media in January. “The crisis has been manufactured in order to create a huge climate-industrial complex that can command the redistribution of colossal amounts of money.”
“There is a huge climate-industrial complex benefitting from this, but it’s not reducing emissions,” he said. Even “if the United States reduced its emissions to zero, it would have no impact on global warming, because Chinese emissions have gone up so rapidly.”
Biden actually does address the threat of Chinese emissions, but he merely suggests that American diplomacy can convince the communist country to buck its own self-interest in favor of global climate alarmism. Interestingly, Biden was the point person for the Obama administration’s efforts on China, and he reportedly went soft on the Middle Kingdom while his son carried out massive deals with Chinese officials. So when Biden talks about holding China accountable, Americans can know just how that works out.
Like Ocasio-Cortez, Biden tries to sell his radical climate plan by promising good jobs. “This initiative will create more than 10 million new good-paying jobs all across the clean economy in the United States of America. It’s an enormous opportunity,” he says.
Then he launches into a pro-America and pro-worker message that echoes the Democratic Party of yore, not the intersectional mess of today. “We’re not going to forget the workers either. The workers who through dangerous and back-breaking labor powered our industrial rise, mined and built our arsenal of democracy, and fueled America’s prosperity through the 20th century,” Biden says.
Biden ends his video message with a nod to his long history of climate alarmist activism. “For more than three decades I’ve led on this issue,” he says to millennials who think Ocasio-Cortez was the first person to demand an overhaul of the economy due to climate alarmism.
While the former vice president often comes across as a moderate in the 2020 race, he makes his no-compromise position clear in the video, saying, “I will not accept half measures.”
Indeed, Biden’s plan is as radical as the Green New Deal, just packaged smarter. Where the Green New Deal calls for the laughably absurd proposal of “upgrading all existing buildings in the United States,” Biden’s plan calls for new building codes, “creating incentives for deep retrofits,” and a “package of affordable energy efficiency” that “retrofits in American homes.”
Like Ocasio-Cortez, Biden wants to remake the buildings in America. He’s just smarter about couching this ridiculous proposal in policy language, calling for “incentives,” building codes, and government “investment,” rather than an obviously absurd demand for every building in the U.S. to be upgraded.
Similarly, the former vice president adds finesse to the Green New Deal’s suggestion that high-speed rail can replace or reduce automobiles and air transportation. Biden’s plan calls for America to “spark the second great railroad revolution.”
“Today, the U.S. is lagging behind Europe and China in rail safety and speed. Biden will develop a plan to ensure that America has the cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world — for both passengers and freight,” the plan says. It calls for increased speeds from New York to D.C., and trains connecting the Northeast to the South and across the Midwest and West. The plan also focuses on rail for freight.
“This plan will reduce pollution, help connect workers to quality jobs with shorter commutes, and spur investment in communities more efficiently connected to major metropolitan areas,” the Biden campaign declares. The more subtle message: Biden is trying to replace the great American trucking industry with large government investments in railroads. America’s highway system has already transformed the country in many of these ways, but climate alarmists like Biden prefer the old driver of industrialism over the more individualistic automobile.
Not every aspect of Biden’s plan is bad. For instance, the former vice president calls for research into “all low- and zero-carbon technologies,” including nuclear power. Nuclear is one of the cleanest, most cost-effective forms of energy production, and American reactors are extremely safe. Nuclear is one of the more viable paths forward, if climate alarmists are serious about low-cost energy in addition to fighting carbon (most of them are not).
Biden’s plan will reportedly cost $5 trillion — although that may not include the high long-term costs of decarbonizing U.S. energy — and climate activists have already attacked him for not being aggressive enough.
“It showed a lack of ambition or understanding about the true crisis that we’re in,” Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action, an environmental group, told SFGate, responding to the Reuters report about Biden’s plan. “If that was a trial balloon, it was shot down.”
The pro-Green New Deal Sunrise Movement tweeted that Biden’s plan is “a start…but unless candidates raise the bar, entire nations will go underwater and millions of people will die.” The alarmist group added, “It’s not clear that Biden is committed to moving away from the ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy that characterized the Obama administration at the speed and scale that science demand. To fail to do so would condemn our generation to an unimaginable world.”
It’s not clear that Biden is committed to moving away from the “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that characterized the Obama administration at the speed and scale that science demand.
To fail to do so would condemn our generation to an unimaginable world.
— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) June 4, 2019
The Washington Post‘s Dave Weigel said the former vice president’s plan is closer to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 proposal than to the plans proposed by other 2020 candidates like Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.).
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) June 4, 2019
Joe Biden may be the current frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primary, but he won’t be able to please the far left and run his heartland campaign to defeat Donald Trump. His repackaged Green New Deal seems dead on arrival, even though it arguably charts a far smarter path forward on these issues. Biden just isn’t radical enough for the Democrats, and the Democrats are too radical for Americans. Responses like this are helping Trump get re-elected.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.