Energy & Environment

2020 rivals, greens rip Biden over expected ‘middle ground’ climate plan

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2020 Democratic hopefuls and environmental groups are blasting former Vice President Joe Biden’s forthcoming climate plan, which is reportedly being pegged as a “middle ground” approach to addressing global warming.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), both presidential candidates, on Friday criticized Biden’s plan, which would reportedly include continued use of natural gas and rely on nuclear energy.

{mosads}“There is no ‘middle ground’ when it comes to climate policy. If we don’t commit to fully transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels, we will doom future generations,” Sanders tweeted. “Fighting climate change must be our priority, whether fossil fuel billionaires like it or not.”

Inslee called the plan a “half measure” that “won’t cut it.”

“We need a large-scale national mobilization to defeat climate change and grow millions of jobs in a clean energy economy,” Inslee also tweeted.

Reuters first reported Friday morning that Biden’s campaign was in the midst of drafting a climate policy plan. The plan would include recommitting to the Paris climate agreement, which President Trump has said he intends to pull the U.S. out of in 2020, and investing in carbon capture technology for fossil fuel emissions.

The approach, two sources told Reuters, is meant to appeal to working-class voters who may be reluctant to back more extensive approaches to climate change, like the Green New Deal, which ultimately seeks to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to net zero over a 10-year period.

Biden has not backed the Green New Deal, a progressive plan championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and which every Democratic senator running for the presidency, including Sanders, has signed on to.

Biden’s anticipated plan follows two climate proposals rolled out last week, one by Inslee and another from former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who is also running for president.

Each plan called for ending reliance on fossil fuels and transitioning the U.S. electric grid entirely to renewable and clean energy use. Inslee’s plan supported the use of nuclear power, an energy source hotly debated by environmentalists who worry about the resulting nuclear waste.

While Sanders has not released a formal climate policy yet, he has staunchly backed the ideas of the Green New Deal and signed a pledge to not accept campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry.

Environmentalists Friday also strongly criticized Biden’s plan, arguing it won’t go far enough to address climate action at a time when various reports, including those from the United Nations, warn the world has fewer than 12 years to stop the effects of greenhouse gases.

Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, a youth lead group backing the Green New Deal, equated Biden’s anticipated plan to a “death sentence” for millennials and younger generations.

“A ‘middle ground’ policy that’s supportive of more fossil fuel development is a death sentence for our generation and the millions of people on the frontlines of the climate crisis,” she said in a statement.

Charlie Jiang, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace, said the idea of a “middle ground” approach to climate action was unrealistic.

“There is no such thing as a middle ground on climate change. We either doom millions of people to climate catastrophe or we don’t,” he said in a statement.

“This kind of rhetoric from the frontrunner in the Democratic race is dangerous and irresponsible, especially while many of his 2020 competitors are raising the bar with their climate plans.”

Biden is currently leading in polls of the Democratic field. However, climate change has also surged to the top of issues that Democratic voters care about, according to recent polls.

Biden’s campaign took issue with Reuters’ description of the candidate’s climate plan Friday afternoon, saying the publication, “Got it wrong.”

Bill Russo, communications director for Biden’s campaign, retweeted a comment Friday that read “Reuters’s got it wrong.”

TJ Ducklo, national press secretary for the Biden campaign, tweeted Friday that Biden, “Knows how high the stakes are.”

“As president, Biden would enact a bold policy to tackle climate change in a meaningful and lasting way, and will be discussing the specifics of that plan in the near future,” Ducklo added. “Any assertions otherwise are not accurate.”

Biden’s team did not offer specifics about what was inaccurate in Reuters’ reporting, saying there was not yet a climate policy to comment on.

“I’m proud to have been one of the first to introduce climate change legislation. What I fought for in 1986 is more important than ever — climate change is an existential threat. Now. Today,” Biden tweeted Friday.

“We need policies that reflect this urgency. I’ll have more specifics on how America can lead on climate in the coming weeks,” he added.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Jay Inslee Joe Biden

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