By Robert Artiga-Valencia
In July 2020, former Vice President and current Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden announced his campaign’s ambitious climate change solution plan to the public. This plan includes a sweeping range of new policies designed to rid carbon from the energy sector by 2035 and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to PolitiFact. This is a step forward from the plan he proposed in 2019 at the beginning of the campaign trail – the plan now provides $300 million more for the effort, according to the New York Times, and accelerates the time table for net-zero emissions.
Various liberal interest groups and political actors have applauded Biden’s new plan, as it seems to be a shift toward more serious attitudes about the ongoing climate crisis. The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activism group, tweeted restrained support for Biden’s plan – celebrating the climate movement’s policy gains, but acknowledging that more work needs to be done in order to reverse the current course.
President Trump and other conservatives have blasted the plan as “far-left,” claiming that its $2 trillion price tag is far too much for the economy to bear. Trump even went so far as to imply that Biden’s plan was “worse” than the green economic policies offered by the Bernie Sanders campaign.
But the political show of celebration and condemnation from the center-left and center-right seem to omit crucial details of Biden’s campaign. While Biden has claimed he will not accept donations from the fossil fuel industry, which is the driving institution behind the climate crisis, he has not explicitly targeted or even named fossil fuels as the subject of his proposals.
In fact, the Biden campaign accepts help from the likes of political figures such as Ernest Moniz and Brian Deese – veteran advisers of the Obama administration’s energy policies, according to The Intercept. Moniz chairs Southern Company, a natural gas utility found to contribute to 21% of the US’s carbon emissions with a handful of other companies that sued the Obama administration over profit-cutting environmental policies. Brian Deese, a former Obama aide, works for BlackRock, the world’s largest asset-management firm. BlackRock is also the single largest investor in the fossil fuel industry, according to Blackrocksbigproblem.com.
With people such as these on the Biden campaign, how sure can we be that, if elected, he will actually follow through on his “radical” plans for the climate? I think that we cannot be sure. We can only be sure that Biden, or anyone, will do something about the climate if we, the youth and the future of this country, push them to. In the coming years, a Biden administration will have to choose between corporate profits and the future of America’s youth. With corporate actors already taking adviser roles on the campaign, I fear that their choice may already be made – plan or no plan.