Buttigieg, Harris Reveal Climate Plans Ahead of Town Hall

(CN) – Candidates vying for the Democratic nomination are releasing plans to address climate change ahead of town halls on the issue slated for Wednesday night.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks to supporters during a rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Aug. 2, 2019. (Wade Vandervort/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Kamala Harris of California became the latest to unveil their plans aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, transitioning the nation’s electricity grid to renewable sources and phasing out the internal combustion engine in vehicles on America’s roads and farms.

“We must channel all of our energies into a national project, one that unifies every American – from big cities to rural communities – around this urgent threat and seizes the tremendous opportunity of a new era of climate action,” Buttigieg said in a statement.  “As big as this crisis is, our ideas and aspirations are big enough to meet it.”

The two plans released Wednesday reflect in their broad contours the near consensus view in the Democratic Party that dramatic public investment should render the nation’s electricity grid carbon-free by 2035 while requiring all new passenger vehicles to be zero emissions by the same year.

The question is how and how much.

Harris touted her credentials as a prosecutor capable of punishing polluters while calling for a $10 trillion investment into a new green economy to create jobs and wean the nation of its dependence on fossil fuels.

“As president, I will hold polluters accountable for the damage they inflict upon our environment and set us on a path to a 100% clean economy that creates millions of good-paying jobs,” Harris said Wednesday. “This crisis demands urgency and boldness, and as president I will act.”

California Sen. Kamala Harris addresses the South Carolina Democratic Party’s convention on Saturday, June 22, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

Harris also emphasized assisting what she deemed vulnerable communities, saying access to safe drinking water needed to be addressed as part of the plan.

Both said all new buses, ships and planes should be zero emissions by 2040 and all industrial manufacturing and agriculture should follow suit by 2050.

Buttigieg said a $200 million infusion of federal money into research and development of green technology and energy storage is necessary to meet the requirements of a rapidly warming world.

He also talked of creating investment funds to generate $500 billion more in spending.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner in the race, released his plan this summer and also talked about making the United States emissions-free by 2050.

His spending plan would cost significantly less than some other candidates, calling for $1.7 trillion in spending.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont proposed mobilizing the entire country to tackle the problem and promised to allocate $16.3 trillion to greening the economy while pursuing aggressive timelines for a carbon-free electricity grid and other climate-related milestones.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, unveiled a plan to spend $2 trillion on green technology manufacturing, research and development and marketing. This week, Warren called for an additional $1 trillion to render the electricity grid carbon-neutral by 2035, while turning passenger cars and light-duty vehicles carbon-free by 2030.

Buttigieg’s plan calls for expenditures of between $1.5 and $2 trillion.

New Jersey Senator Corey Booker would spend $3 trillion to combat climate change and joined Harris in calling for spending priorities for vulnerable communities.

Julian Castro, the former Director of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration, said he would spend up to $10 trillion to address climate change while also emphasizing the importance of environmental justice as it relates to underserved communities.

Former congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas pledged $1.5 trillion in federal spending, while leveraging an additional $5 trillion in spending to render the grid carbon-free by 2045.

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota introduced a more modest spending plan in the days leading up to Wednesday’s town halls, saying climate change is best addressed through legislation passed by Congress.

Andrew Yang, the businessman who qualified for the debate last week, said he would allocate funds to move people in flood-prone areas to higher ground. He also touted his record as an entrepreneur as evidence he can find innovative technological solutions to the problem of climate change.

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