And the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee stressed that when he thinks about climate change, “the word I think about is jobs — good-paying union jobs that'll put Americans to work."
Biden made his comments Tuesday in a speech in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware as he proposed spending $2 trillion over four years to ignite development of more clean energy in order to achieve a pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions 15 years later. The former vice president called for rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
“These aren’t pie in the sky dreams. These are actionable policies that we can get to work on right away,” Biden emphasized.
“We can live up to our responsibilities, meet the challenges of a world at risk of a climate catastrophe, build more climate resilient communities, put millions of skilled workers on the job, and make life markedly better and safer for the American people all at once and benefit the world in the process,” he added.
Trump re-election campaign national press secretary Hogan Gidley -- taking aim at Biden's plan -- said it's "more like a socialist manifesto that promises to massively raise taxes, eliminate jobs in the coal, oil or natural gas industries, and crush the middle class."
Biden called for transforming the federal fleet of vehicles from gas to electric, building 500,000 charging stations along the nation’s highways for electric vehicles, upgrading 4 million buildings and weatherizing 2 million homes over the next four years to increase energy efficiency, and offering government grants to retool factories. His plan also calls for creating an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the Department of Justice.
The former vice president’s proposal goes further than the one he unveiled during the Democratic presidential primaries – and reflects his adoption of some of his former rivals' positions. His overall $2 trillion price tag is up $300 billion from his original plan.
The proposal was unveiled following the release of recommendations from a joint task force set up by Biden and populist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who was his last remaining rival in the primary race before ending his campaign. Progressive freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York co-chaired the Biden-Sanders task force on climate change
Biden emphasized that “we can create millions of high paying union jobs by building a modern infrastructure and a clean energy future. These are the most critical investments we can make for the long term health and vitality of both the American economy and the physical health and safety of the American people.”
Taking aim at the president, Biden charged that on climate change Trump and the GOP are pushing “backward-looking policies that will harm the environment, make communities less healthy, hold back economic promise.”
Biden’s speech was carried live by the major national cable news networks, and the former vice president didn’t waste an opportunity to also take aim at the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
He urged the president to “quit pushing the false choice between protecting our health and protecting our economy. All it does is endanger our recovery on both fronts.”
Noting that Trump this past weekend publicly wore a mask for the first time, Biden said that the pandemic has “gotten bad enough that even Donald Trump finally decided to wear a mask in public. I'm glad he made the shift. Mr. President, it's not enough."
In attacking Biden's plan, Gidley said "it's clear that Biden is beholden to the radical socialist ideology of Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez."
And he argued that Biden's "pushing extreme policies that would smother the economy just when it's showing signs of roaring back."
The United Auto Workers – one of the many major unions that have endorsed Biden – said “this ambitious plan is a win-win for American manufacturing, auto industry jobs, new technology and a cleaner environment.
The American Petroleum Institute – the national trade association that represents the nation’s oil and natural gas industry – emphasized that “you can’t address the risks of climate change without America’s natural gas and oil industry, which continues to lead the world in emissions reductions while delivering affordable, reliable and cleaner energy to all Americans.”
Mike Sommers – the group’s president and CEO – noted that Biden’s plan would require a massive amount of infrastructure buildout, a goal we all share. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when we’ve seen opposition to energy projects of all kinds with activist groups obstructing development every step of the way.”
After Biden concluded his speech, he was asked by the pool reporter covering his campaign event if he had time to answer a few questions. The former vice president didn’t respond as he departed.