Joe Biden Climate Plan

Comment by Bill McKibben

July 22, 2020

Source: Daily Newsletter

When Joe Biden issued his extensive climate plan last week, there were endless analyses, including mostly positive reviews like those from the energy expert Julian Brave NoiseCat, who called it “a Green New Deal in our view, substantively,” and the Sunrise Movement, which had graded Biden’s primary-season plan an F, but now says that he’s “talking the talk,” and that a post-election mobilization will insure that he’ll “walk the walk.” The main opposition came from President Trump, who insisted that Biden, in his zeal for energy efficiency, had called for abolishing windows.

I don’t want to go deeply into the details of the plan here, because chances are that few of the proposals will get enacted in their precise form, but they seem a truly useful compendium of the mainstream and obvious ideas for an energy and conservation transition. And they provide a good roadmap by which to steer, even if that map avoids the most controversial areas of the debate. (The plan is especially quiet about the efforts that will be necessary to limit mining and drilling for fossil fuels.) The best way to understand them, I think, is as a loud signal in the ever-louder conversation among élites about the trajectory and the pace of that transition.

…If you want a really powerful signal, one came last week from Teen Vogue, which published an op-ed encouraging young people to not open accounts with banks that are reckless with the planet. (The authors’ “Not My Dirty Money” pledge can be found here.) Meanwhile, Greta Thunberg and fellow climate strikers sent an open letter to the European Union. (I am among the tens of thousands of people who signed onto it.) It says, “You must stop pretending that we can solve the climate and ecological crisis without treating it as a crisis.” Just the right signal, reminding politicians that a devastated climate is not merely an excuse for a jobs program, and at just the right volume. And if signals don’t replace action they do usually precede it—so consider this season a relatively hopeful one.

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