The 2020 Presidential Election is heating up. And, unfortunately, so is our planet. The scientific consensus is clear; we don’t have that much time left to lower our greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change. Our next President must play a critical role in achieveing this goal. We need somebody who prioritizes climate over money, holds the CEOs of fossil fuel companies accountable, and will help the country adapt to a changing environment.
Everybody with even a minimal understanding of climate change and sustainability knows that Trump’s environmental policies, rather than reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and keeping our environment clean, are moving our country backwards. In his first three years as President, Trump has managed to pull us out of the Paris Climate Agreement, loosen regulations on air and water pollution, weaken Obama-era fuel economy rules, approve the construction of multiple pipelines, drop climate change from the list of national security threats, and even appoint a lobbyist with no scientific credentials as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency. The list goes on and on.
But what about the 2020 Democratic Candidates? Taking into account his voting record, environmental policy proposals and scientific support, it’s clear that between the front runners, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, Bernie, has the best environmental policies for the country. Here’s why:
Bernie has always fought for the environment
Not only do Sanders’ current policies prioritize fighting climate change and protecting our air, water and endangered species, but there are actually videos of Bernie going back as far as 1987, when few politicans even acknowledged it, warning the country about the threat of climate change. And after almost forty years of serving in the federal government, Bernie has never recieved money from the fossil fuel industry.
Bernie’s voting record is consistent with his concerns about the environment. In his first few years as a U.S Congressman, Sanders supported the Global Climate Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the California Desert Protection Act, and hundreds of other pro environment bills- all of which can be found here. The League of Conservation Voters gives Bernie a 92% (compared to an 82% for Biden) lifetime rating for “pro environment votes,” and this accounts for the large amount of votes he missed during his 2016 Presidential campaign.
Bernie’s Green New Deal is the most comprehensive plan to address the Climate Crisis
The Green New Deal aims to address the climate crisis by not only reducing emissions, but helping communities, specifically ones more vulnerable to negative climate impacts, adapt.
Here are the key points of the Green New Deal, according to his own website:
Transform our energy system to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million new jobs to address the climate crisis.
Ensure a just transition for communities and workers, including fossil fuel workers.
Ensure justice for frontline communities, especially under-resourced groups, communities of color, Native Americans, people with disabilities, children, and the elderly.
Save American families money with investments in weatherization, public transportation, modern infrastructure, and high-speed broadband.
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
Invest in conservation and public lands to heal our soils, forests, and prairie lands.
End the greed of the fossil fuel industry and hold them accountable.
We all know that the Green New Deal will be expensive. However, dealing with the catastrophic effects of climate change in the future will actually come at a larger expense, not to mention it will displace millions of people and negatively impact public health, infrastructure, and the economy. The United States actually spends hundreds of billions of dollars on fossil fuel subsidies every year- about ten times as much as we spend on education. The Green New Deal aims to end those benefits and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy which would eventually pay for itself.
The Green New Deal pays for itself by:
Making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation fees, and taxes, and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.
Generating revenue from the wholesale of energy produced by the regional Marketing Authorities. Revenues will be collected from 2023-2035, and after 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and mantainence 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 coperations pay their fair share.
The Green New Deal is also the only plan proposed by any 2020 Presidential candidate that includes holding fossil fuel companies accountable for denying climate science to the public.
In comparison, Joe Biden’s climate plan has been criticized for not being aggressive enough to draw down emissions in time. The Sunrise Movement writes that while the plan has many good parts to it, it “doesn’t chart a clear course of how Biden would move America off of fossil fuels and towards sustainable energy.”
The plan has also come under criticism for being very similar to other plans outlined by the nonprofit environmental groups “Blue Green Alliance” and “Carbon Capture Coalition.” Not to mention that Biden’s climate advisor, Heather Zichal, has made over a million dollars off of natural gas as one of the directors of the Texas-based liquified natural gas (LNG) company Cheniere Energy.
Biden’s plan doesn’t call for a ban on hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”), a process in which rock is fractured by a pressurized liquid, and natural gas is extracted. Not only does fracking use between 1-3 million gallons of water well, but fracking fluid can leak into groundwater that may be used for drinking and contaminate it. Hydraulic fracking can also be linked to increased seismic activity, causing earthquakes in many areas where fracking happens regularly.
Joe Biden’s lack of orignal ideas and desire to take bold action on the climate crisis indicates that he truly doesn’t understand the severity of the situation. We don’t have time to compromise with the fossil fuel industry, who have been denying the science behind climate change to the public for decades. We cannot afford a “middle ground” approach when it comes to the most existenial threat to our planet.
Bernie’s other policies work synonymously with sutainability
Aside from the Green New Deal, Bernie’s other proposed policies such as affordable healthcare, reproductive rights for women, and affordable housing, encourage climate mitigation and adaptation.
Funding family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood and keeping abortion legal will ensure that everyone has access to affordable reproductive care such as contraceptives and safe abortions. The United States has the 10th highest carbon footprint per capita in the world, so it would benefit us to keep fertility rates at replacement level, roughly 2.1 children per woman. Not to mention that these clinics lower STD rates, allow women the basic right to control their own fertility, and actually save our country money.
The climate crisis is already costing our healthcare system billions of dollars every year. People’s health will be affected by intense storms, heat waves, and possibly even new diseases thanks to rising temperatures. The United States already spends about twice as much on healthcare services per person than other high income countries, and a large amount of that money (about $900 per person compared to $300 in France) goes towards administrative costs. Bernie’s plan is one of the only ones that completely eliminates insurance companies, making the overall cost of healthcare less expensive for people affected by the climate crisis.
Lowering housing costs by implementing a national rent control will help lower income individuals, especially those who are homeless, remain protected from climate fueled disastors. Those who are disabled or homeless are some of the most vulnerable victims of climate fueled disastors and allowing them affordable shelter will ensure they remain safe.
Scientists Trust Bernie
Based off of his voting record and historical campaigns, it’s no surprise that Bernie has recieved support from many scientific organizations. Bernie recieved a key endorsement from the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led political movement organization that advocates for action on climate change. Scientists for Bernie is an organization of “scientists, engineers, educators and STEM workers, inspired by Bernie’s visions of a more just society.” Bernie also has an A+ rating on greenpeace (in comparison, Warren stands at an A, Steyer an A-, and Biden a B+).
Regardless of what your political beliefs are, if you care about preserving a planet fit for your children and grandchildren, take climate policy into account. There is no debate among scientists about where our planet is headed if we do not act quickly. Bernie knows this.
“If the environment were a bank, it would have been saved by now.” -Bernie Sanders