Energy & Environment

2020 hopeful Jay Inslee unveils plan to boost US role in climate future

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), a 2020 presidential hopeful, unveiled his third climate plan early Wednesday, the latest in a string of proposals from Democratic candidates released this week.  

Inslee’s plan builds upon his previous climate proposals, calling for rolling back additional types of environment-harming gasses and preparing the U.S. to take a leadership role in a climate change future in which Inslee foresees migration based on extreme changes in weather.

{mosads}Even in a Democratic contest that has spurred multiple climate proposals, Inslee’s latest plan provides a much more detailed look at how the Washington governor would tackle the issue while in office.

Inslee claims the plan will exceed timetables for climate pollution reductions under the Paris Agreement, achieving a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, and net-zero emissions by no later than 2045.

“America can either choose to lead the world in building a clean energy economy that creates jobs at home and protects human rights around the world, or we can choose to fall behind other nations in the 21st century economy as we bear the costs of increasing climate, in economic and humanitarian crises,” Inslee wrote in the proposal.

The 50-page report calls for rejoining a number of international and regional climate plans and accords in addition to the Paris accords.

That includes joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which would commit the U.S. to phasing out coal power plant pollution by 2030, rolling back tax breaks for fossil fuel companies while rejecting the Trump administration’s efforts to promote U.S. fossil fuels abroad, and putting new restrictions on methane and other forms of carbon.

Inslee said he would orchestrate another global agreement to focus on tapering methane gas, which is 34 times more heat-trapping than carbon, and look for alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons used in refrigeration and air conditioning that are also heat-trapping. He would also add a “climate duty” to products imported from overseas if pollution tied to those products surpasses a certain level.

Beyond the global agreements and emissions reduction targets, Inslee’s plan focuses on the international instability resulting from a changing climate, including climate refugees.

“Under President Trump, American policy has denied the scientific, humanitarian, and security realities of climate change,” the plan said. “Governor Inslee’s plan will adapt America’s immigration policy to the reality of climate migration.”

Inslee would gradually increase the number of refugees accepted by the U.S. until eventually exceeding the target of 110,000 refugees that was set during the final year of the Obama administration, calling it a minimum standard for the United States to reclaim its historic leadership role in resettling refugees.

Further immigration policies included in the proposal would reverse Trump administration decisions affecting immigrants and refugees from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua and ensure that Border Patrol agents are conducting the necessary interviews for those seeking asylum in the U.S.

Inslee has worked to brand himself as the climate change candidate, winning the top spot in Greenpeace’s candidate rankings. On Tuesday, Green New Deal sponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called Inslee’s plans the “gold standard.”

But Inslee is competing in a crowded field with candidates who are eager to showcase their policy proposals on an issue of growing concern. Several candidates have already rolled out climate policies, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Inslee’s latest plan also delves into the transportation sector — now the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions — though car travel is largely absent from his proposal.

Instead, Inlsee focuses on aviation and shipping as a way to reduce pollution.

Under his plan, the U.S. would join a pact to maintain carbon pollution from air travel at 2020 levels for international flights and create a similar program for domestic flights. He would end tax breaks for private jets, calling them “a massive, wasteful giveaway to the wealthy that promotes unnecessary climate pollution.”

Inslee said he would end fossil fuel subsidies from the government, something he estimates reaches $5.3 trillion annually, and end giveaways of fossil fuel leases on public lands.

This report was updated at 9:42 a.m.

Tags 2020 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Climate change Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Jay Inslee Jay Inslee Joe Biden
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