Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke today proposed a climate change action plan that would mobilize $5 trillion over 10 years, require net-zero emissions by 2050 and address “the greatest threat” facing the human race.
“Climate change is the greatest threat we face,” O’Rourke said today, announcing his plan today at Yosemite National Park, “one which will test our country, our democracy, and every single one of us.”
“We are living in a transformed reality, where our longstanding inaction has not only impacted our climate but led to a growing emergency that has already started to sap our economic prosperity and public health – worsening inequality and threatening our safety and security,” said O’Rourke, a former U.S. congressman (January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2019) who hails from the border city of El Paso, Texas.
He worries that the costs of climate change will measure in the tens of trillions of dollars, in lives lost, and livelihoods devastated and destroyed.
President Donald Trump has called climate change “a hoax invented by the Chinese,” and withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement. The Democratic National Committee says that “by choosing to ignore the consensus of the scientific community on climate change,” Trump is “putting our country’s health, security, and economy at risk.”
As president, O’Rourke says he would begin to cut pollution with executive actions on his first day in office.
His first piece of legislation would initiate a 10-year mobilization of $5 trillion directly leveraged by a fully paid-for $1.5 trillion investment, a plan he calls, “the world’s largest-ever climate change investment in infrastructure, innovation, and in our people and communities.”
The $5 trillion would be funded with the revenues generated by structural changes to the tax code that ensure corporations and the wealthiest people pay their fair share and that the U.S. ends the tens of billions of dollars of tax breaks now given to oil, gas and coal companies.
More than just a climate plan, O’Rouke’s proposal sets out other actions he would take to protect the environment. He would:
• Re-enter the Paris Agreement and lead the negotiations for an even more ambitious global plan for 2030 and beyond;
• Reduce methane leakage from existing sources in the oil and natural gas industry for the first time and rapidly phase-out hydrofluorocarbons, the super-polluting greenhouse gases that are up to 9,000 times worse for climate change than carbon dioxide;
• Strengthen the clean air and hazardous waste limits for power plants and fuel economy standards that save consumers money and improve public health, while setting a trajectory to rapidly accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles;
• Increase consumer savings through new, modernized, and ambitious appliance- and building-efficiency standards;
• Create unprecedented access to the technologies and markets that allow farmers and ranchers to profit from the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions they secure;
• Leverage $500 billion in annual government procurement to decarbonize across all sectors for the first time, including a new “buy clean” program for steel, glass, and cement;
• Require any federal permitting decision to fully account for climate costs and community impacts;
• Set a first-ever, net-zero emissions by 2030 carbon budget for federal lands, stopping new fossil fuel leases, changing royalties to reflect climate costs, and accelerating renewables development and forestation.