Climate change is a global emergency. The Amazon rainforest is burning, Greenland’s ice shelf is melting, and the Arctic is on fire. People across the country and the world are already experiencing the deadly consequences of our climate crisis, as extreme weather events like heat waves, wildfires, droughts, floods, and hurricanes upend entire communities, ecosystems, economies, and ways of life, as well as endanger millions of lives. Communities of color, working class people, and the global poor have borne and will bear this burden disproportionately.
The scientific community is telling us in no uncertain terms that we have less than 11 years left to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy, if we are going to leave this planet healthy and habitable for ourselves, our children, grandchildren, and future generations. As rising temperatures and extreme weather create health emergencies, drive land loss and displacement, destroy jobs, and threaten livelihoods, we must guarantee health care, housing, and a good-paying job to every American, especially to those who have been historically excluded from economic prosperity.
The scope of the challenge ahead of us shares similarities with the crisis faced by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940s. Battling a world war on two fronts—both in the East and the West—the United States came together, and within three short years restructured the entire economy in order to win the war and defeat fascism. As president, Bernie Sanders will boldly embrace the moral imperative of addressing the climate crisis and act immediately to mobilize millions of people across the country in support of the Green New Deal. From the Oval Office to the streets, Bernie will generate the political will necessary for a wholesale transformation of our society, with support for frontline and vulnerable communities and massive investments in sustainable energy, energy efficiency, and a transformation of our transportation system.
We need a president who has the courage, the vision, and the record to face down the greed of fossil fuel executives and the billionaire class who stand in the way of climate action. We need a president who welcomes their hatred. Bernie will lead our country to enact the Green New Deal and bring the world together to defeat the existential threat of climate change.
As President, Bernie Sanders Will Avert Climate Catastrophe and Create 20 Million Jobs
As president, Bernie Sanders will launch the decade of the Green New Deal, a ten-year, nationwide mobilization centered around justice and equity during which climate change will be factored into virtually every area of policy, from immigration to trade to foreign policy and beyond. This plan outlines some of the most significant goals we have set and steps we will take during this mobilization, including:
- Reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and complete decarbonization of the economy by 2050 at latest – consistent with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change goals – by expanding the existing federal Power Marketing Administrations to build new solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources.
- Ending unemployment by creating 20 million jobs needed to solve the climate crisis. These jobs will be good paying, union jobs with strong benefits and safety standards in steel and auto manufacturing, construction, energy efficiency retrofitting, coding and server farms, and renewable power plants. We will also create millions of jobs in sustainable agriculture, engineering, a reimagined and expanded Civilian Conservation Corp, and preserving our public lands.
- Directly invest an historic $16.3 trillion public investment toward these efforts, in line with the mobilization of resources made during the New Deal and WWII, but with an explicit choice to include black, indigenous and other minority communities who were systematically excluded in the past.
- A just transition for workers. This plan will prioritize the fossil fuel workers who have powered our economy for more than a century and who have too often been neglected by corporations and politicians. We will guarantee five years of a worker’s current salary, housing assistance, job training, health care, pension support, and priority job placement for any displaced worker, as well as early retirement support for those who choose it or can no longer work.
- Declaring climate change a national emergency. We must take action to ensure a habitable planet for ourselves, for our children, and for our grandchildren. We will do whatever it takes to defeat the threat of climate change.
- Saving American families money by weatherizing homes and lowering energy bills, building affordable and high-quality, modern public transportation, providing grants and trade-in programs for families and small businesses to purchase high-efficiency electric vehicles, and rebuilding our inefficient and crumbling infrastructure, including deploying universal, affordable high-speed internet.
- Supporting small family farms by investing in ecologically regenerative and sustainable agriculture. This plan will transform our agricultural system to fight climate change, provide sustainable, local foods, and break the corporate stranglehold on farmers and ranchers.
- Justice for frontline communities – especially under-resourced groups, communities of color, Native Americans, people with disabilities, children and the elderly – to recover from, and prepare for, the climate impacts, including through a $40 billion Climate Justice Resiliency Fund. And providing those frontline and fenceline communities a just transition including real jobs, resilient infrastructure, economic development.
- Commit to reducing emissions throughout the world, including providing $200 billion to the Green Climate Fund, rejoining the Paris Agreement, and reasserting the United States’ leadership in the global fight against climate change.
- Meeting and exceeding our fair share of global emissions reductions. The United States has for over a century spewed carbon pollution emissions into the atmosphere in order to gain economic standing in the world. Therefore, we have an outsized obligation to help less industrialized nations meet their targets while improving quality of life. We will reduce domestic emissions by at least 71 percent by 2030 and reduce emissions among less industrialized nations by 36 percent by 2030 — the total equivalent of reducing our domestic emissions by 161 percent.
- Making massive investments in research and development. We will invest in public research to drastically reduce the cost of energy storage, electric vehicles, and make our plastic more sustainable through advanced chemistry.
- Expanding the climate justice movement. We will do this by coming together in a truly inclusive movement that prioritizes young people, workers, indigenous peoples, communities of color, and other historically marginalized groups to take on the fossil fuel industry and other polluters to push this over the finish line and lead the globe in solving the climate crisis.
- Investing in conservation and public lands to heal our soils, forests, and prairie lands. We will reauthorize and expand the Civilian Conservation Corps and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Corps to provide good paying jobs building green infrastructure.
- This plan will pay for itself over 15 years. Experts have scored the plan and its economic effects. We will pay for the massive investment we need to reverse the climate crisis by:
- Making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.
- Generating revenue from the wholesale of energy produced by the regional Power Marketing Authorities. Revenues will be collected from 2023-2035, and after 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.
- Scaling back military spending on maintaining global oil dependence.
- Collecting new income tax revenue from the 20 million new jobs created by the plan.
- Reduced need for federal and state safety net spending due to the creation of millions of good-paying, unionized jobs.
- Making the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.
The cost of inaction is unacceptable. Economists estimate that if we do not take action, we will lose $34.5 trillion in economic activity by the end of the century. And the benefits are enormous: by taking bold and decisive action, we will save $2.9 trillion over 10 years, $21 trillion over 30 years, and $70.4 trillion over 80 years.
We cannot accomplish any of these goals without taking on the fossil fuel billionaires whose greed lies at the very heart of the climate crisis. These executives have spent hundreds of millions of dollars protecting their profits at the expense of our future, and they will do whatever it takes to squeeze every last penny out of the Earth. Bernie promises to go further than any other presidential candidate in history to end the fossil fuel industry’s greed, including by making the industry pay for its pollution and prosecuting it for the damage it has caused.
And most importantly, we must build an unprecedented grassroots movement that is powerful enough to take them on, and win. Young people, advocates, tribes, cities and states all over this country have already begun this important work, and we will continue to follow their lead.
1) Transform Our Energy System to 100 Percent Renewable Energy and Create 20 Million Jobs
As president, Bernie will:
- Transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100 percent energy efficiency and sustainable energy by 2030 at the latest. The New Deal provided inexpensive electricity to America through efforts like the Rural Electrification Administration and the Federal Power Marketing Administrations. If the federal government was able to electrify America under FDR without computers or any of the modern technologies we have available to us today, think of what we can do today. Municipal and cooperative electric utilities still provide some of the least expensive electricity in the country today. As part of the Green New Deal, we will expand on that success.
- Build enough renewable energy generation capacity for the nation’s growing needs. Currently, four federal Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) and the Tennessee Valley Authority generate and transmit power to distribution utilities in 33 states.We will create one more PMA to cover the remaining states and territories and expand the existing PMAs to build more than enough wind, solar, energy storage and geothermal power plants. We will spend $1.52 trillion on renewable energy and $852 billion to build energy storage capacity. Together, with an EPA federal renewable energy standard, this will fully drive out non-sustainable generation sources.
- We will end greed in our energy system. The renewable energy generated by the Green New Deal will be publicly owned, managed by the Federal Power Marketing Administrations, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Tennessee Valley Authority and sold to distribution utilities with a preference for public power districts, municipally- and cooperatively-owned utilities with democratic, public ownership, and other existing utilities that demonstrate a commitment to the public interest. The Department of Energy will provide technical assistance to states and municipalities that would like to establish publicly owned distribution utilities or community choice aggregation programs in their communities. Electricity will be sold at current rates to keep the cost of electricity stable during this transition.
- Build a modern smart grid. A smart grid means a resilient, secure, and intelligent electric grid system that is capable of managing high amounts of renewable energy, charging electric vehicles quickly, and maximizing efficiency. We will spend $526 billion on a modern, high-volt, underground, renewable, direct current, smart, electric transmission and distribution grid will ensure our transition to 100 percent sustainable energy is safe and smooth.
- Weatherize homes and businesses to perform energy efficiency upgrades to make buildings more energy efficient and lower energy bills. We will provide $2.18 trillion for sliding-scale grants for low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to invest in weatherizing and retrofitting their homes and businesses. Low and moderate-income families and small businesses will be able to fully electrify heating and other current uses of fossil fuels in buildings through federal funding. We must fully end all fossil fuel use in buildings by 2030. Deep weatherization retrofits will reduce residential energy consumption by 30 percent. Because our mobile home stock is leaky and often very old, we plan to replace all mobile homes with zero-energy modular homes. As we move forward with energy efficiency efforts, we will prioritize the oldest, leakiest and least energy efficient homes and the homes of seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families first. A federal mandate through the Department of Energy will ensure that new and existing commercial buildings and wealthy homeowners meet our energy retrofit goals.
- Electrify homes and businesses. One of the best ways to ensure that everyone is comfortable in their homes on the hottest days of summer and the coldest days of winter is to bring all non-electric uses of energy onto the electric grid. For example, so many of our homes still use dirty oil, propane, and fracked natural gas for heating and cooling. We plan to provide $964 billion for sliding-scale grants for low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to invest in cheaper electricity for these needs. A federal mandate through the Department of Energy will ensure that all new construction, existing big business commercial buildings, and wealthy homeowners meet our electrification goals.
- Phase out the use of non-sustainable sources. This plan will stop the building of new nuclear power plants and find a real solution to our existing nuclear waste problem. It will also enact a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States to protect surrounding communities. We know that the toxic waste byproducts of nuclear plants are not worth the risks of the technology’s benefit, especially in light of lessons learned from the Fukushima meltdown and the Chernobyl disaster. To get to our goal of 100 percent sustainable energy, we will not rely on any false solutions like nuclear, geoengineering, carbon capture and sequestration, or trash incinerators.
- Regulate all dangerous greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is a very dangerous greenhouse gas, but it is not the only one we must address. Methane is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) can be more than a thousand times more powerful. In order to ensure we reach our carbon pollution emissions goals, the EPA will, under the Clean Air Act, regulate carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons. By aggressively enforcing our laws, we will end the injustice of 100,000 Americans dying every year from air pollution.
- Declare a climate emergency. There is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes. Bernie will declare a national emergency on climate change and take immediate, large-scale action to reverse its effects. This is an existential threat and we will do whatever it takes to confront it.
TransportationWe can and must transform our transportation sector away from fossil fuels to create a sustainable future for all and good-paying, union jobs right here in America. Transportation currently accounts for 29 percent of domestic emissions. We will create domestic energy alternatives to power our cars and trucks and move our transportation sector beyond oil by running our cars and trucks on renewable sources. We will build affordable, reliable, quick, and efficient public transportation, and high-speed passenger and cargo rail. And we will create millions of good-paying, unionized jobs building the automobile fleet of the future. We will invest in nationwide electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to increase access to these resources for all, just as we built an interstate highway system in the 1950s and 1960s. We will move beyond oil toward an electric car. Concerns of cost and whether there will be access to a charging station have prevented many people from being able to choose this low-carbon option. We are going to change that. When Bernie is president, he is going to fully transform our energy sector away from fossil fuels, ensuring no one is priced out of this transition.
As president, Bernie will:
- Fully electrify and decarbonize our transportation sector.
We will create a federal grant and zero-emission vehicle program to
create a 100 percent renewable transportation sector. Zero-emission
vehicle programs are already having success all across the country. In
order to transition to 100 percent electric vehicles powered with
renewable energy instead of expensive fossil fuels, we will institute:
- Grants to purchase a new EV. Provide $2.09 trillion in grants to low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to trade in their fossil fuel-dependent vehicles for new electric vehicles. Currently, purchasers of electric vehicles are wealthier than buyers of conventional cars. As president, Bernie will make sure working families share the benefits of this transition and nobody is left behind.
- Vehicle trade-in program. Provide $681 billion for low- and moderate- income families and small businesses for a trade-in program to get old cars off the road. Families with a conventional car will be able to access an additional incentive for trading in for an American-made electric vehicle. The Obama administration conducted a successful trade-in program that helped accelerate the transition to more efficient cars. We will expand on the program and make it stronger by requiring even higher efficiency and make it available only to cars manufactured in the U.S.
- Electric vehicle charging infrastructure. In order to ensure that no one is ever stranded without the ability to charge their vehicle, we will spend $85.6 billion building a national electric vehicle charging infrastructure network similar to the gas stations and rest stops we have today. We will also ensure that new EV stations are open access and interoperable between all payment systems. Under our plan, drivers will no longer need to worry about where to charge their car or if they can pay for it.
- School and transit buses. Provide $407 billion in grants for states to help school districts and transit agencies replace all school and transit buses with electric buses. The EPA classifies diesel exhaust as a probable human carcinogen, and this exhaust contains over 40 different chemicals and air pollutants that are classified as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Children on school buses are exposed to concentrations of these substances that can be 5-15 times higher than background levels negatively impacting their health and performance in school. Once older buses are replaced with clean electric buses, school districts will save in fuel and maintenance costs over the life cycle of the bus.
- Replace all shipping trucks. Because this nation depends heavily on goods that are shipped all over the country by truckers, we must ensure that they are able to keep up their pace while we meet our climate goals. That means we must spend $216 billion to replace all diesel tractor trailer trucks with fast-charging and long-range electric trucks. Truck drivers from the largest fleets to small owner-operators will be able to access this funding.
- Ensure the decarbonization of the transportation sector. When we are in the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation will assist in the decarbonization of personal and commercial vehicles through regulation, enforcement and technical assistance. President Trump weakened clean car mandates on auto manufacturing, which some manufacturers opposed. Our administration will work with schools, transit agencies, cities, states, and private companies to establish standards for auto manufacturing to be 100 percent sustainable by 2030.
- Build public transit that is affordable, accessible, fast, and resilient.
- With a $300 billion investment, we will increase public transit ridership by 65 percent by 2030. We will ensure that reliable, affordable public transit is accessible for seniors, people with disabilities, and rural communities. In addition to expanding transit service to communities, we will promote transit-oriented development to link this service to popular destinations and vital community services. For too long, government policy has encouraged long car commutes, congestion, and dangerous emissions. The Green New Deal will reverse these trends and create more livable, connected, and vibrant communities.
- Build regional high-speed rail. Many other developed nations have advanced high speed rail systems. A $607 billion investment in a regional high-speed rail system would complete the vision of the Obama administration to develop high-speed intercity rail in the United States. This new system will give travelers a meaningful affordable alternative to plane or car travel between major cities. The reason high-speed rail has not worked in the United States is because we have not built the political mobilization needed to demand the funding needed to complete this vision. Together, we will create the movement needed to develop high-speed rail.
- Retrofit dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure. In 2013, 800,000 gallons of crude oil was spilled in railroad accidents. In 2014, an average of one oil train derailed every five days. The Federal Railroad Administration will adopt new rules requiring companies to retrofit the coal and oil bomb trains to prevent explosions, derailments, and spills. We will take similar action to protect communities’ well pads, substations, compressor stations, and pipelines as we remove fossil fuels to better protect communities that never asked to be cited in their footprint.
Research and DevelopmentOur scientists and engineers know how to solve our climate crisis. Despite massive federal subsidies for fossil fuels, renewable energies have improved in cost and efficiency year after year, and now rival or surpass conventional energies in cost effectiveness. What we lack is long-term federal commitment to our scientists and engineers in the sustainable energy sector to accelerate innovation in both energy production and storage. Our country developed the internet, lightbulbs, and GPS. We developed a cure for polio. A Bernie Sanders administration will spur the development of the technologies and innovations we need to tackle the climate crisis.
As president, Bernie will:
- Dramatically decrease the cost of energy storage. The Obama administration successfully decreased the cost of installed solar by 90 percent through a Department of Energy program called SunShot. There are similar energy storage programs at DOE and some of our National Labs that aim to decrease the cost of solutions like batteries. We will similarly decrease the cost of energy storage and meet daily and long term reliability needs. We will invest $30 billion for a StorageShot initiative to meet those goals. The StorageShot program will have a goal of commercializing technologies that can provide energy lasting 24 hours to multiple days at a capital cost lower than $1,000 a kilowatt to support the renewable energy needed to phase out coal and natural gas plants that currently serve as base generation on the grid. The program will also aim to decrease the cost of daily cycling storage resources by at least a factor of three in order to reliably and affordable replace all coal and natural gas plants that serve as backup on the grid. Additionally, in order to ensure an affordable and complete transition away from fossil fuels in the transportation sector, we will also spend $100 billion to decrease the cost of a new electric vehicle to at most $18,000.
- Invest in decarbonizing the shipping and aviation industries as soon as possible. The science is clear that the entire global economy must decarbonize by 2050 at latest if we hope to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. We must be extremely careful to ensure that as we do this, we make sure that domestic manufacturing and clean economy industries thrive. The federal government must identify and commercialize technologies to ensure the globe is able to fully decarbonize as soon as possible, but by no later than 2050 to meet the goals in the IPCC report. We will fund a $500 billion effort to research technologies to fully decarbonize industry, and a $150 billion effort to fully decarbonize aviation and maritime shipping and transportation.
- Establish a nationwide materials recycling program. During World War II, Americans recycled metal and other materials that went toward making the planes, ships, and equipment necessary to fight and win the war. We must do the same to win the fight against climate change. To prevent an outsized impact on the environment from harvesting raw materials, we must build the wind turbines, solar panels, new cars, and batteries we need with as many recycled materials as possible. We will establish a “take back” program to require large corporations that produce goods with the materials needed for this clean energy transition to pay to take those goods back from consumers who no longer want them to establish a nation-wide materials recycling program so we can use as many recycled materials as possible to build the renewable energy equipment needed to transform our energy system. We will also invest in research for less resource-intensive methods and alternatives to plastic from fossil fuels, rapidly moving away from petrochemical plastics production.
- Reassert U.S. leadership in research and engineering by marshaling resources across the federal government and institutions of higher education, including the National Academy of Engineering and National Science Foundation. The U.S. has an obligation and an economic opportunity to be a leader in developing and deploying the clean technological solutions that will solve climate change. Research and development in the challenges of the cost of storage and electric vehicles and of decarbonizing industry, aviation and shipping could put the U.S. back in a position of leadership around the world.