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Everything You Need To Know About Beto O’Rourke’s Ambitious $5 Trillion Plan For Climate Change

Avery Maloto

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beto o'rourke

On Monday, Democratic Presidential Candidate Beto O’Rourke unveiled a $5 trillion plan to battle climate change. In his campaign, Beto believes he can eliminate “the greatest threat we face”, setting a goal to achieve net-zero emissions by the year 2050.

O’Rourke’s Plan

This is the first major policy proposal of his presidential campaign. In his plan, Beto O’Rourke states that he is prioritizing climate change. Noting that it is one of the Democratic voters’ primary concerns, Beto’ aims to have his proposal set to begin on his first day of presidency.

Here is are the major points of his plan to lead the world to address the climate, according to O’Rourke’s campaign page pertaining to his stances on climate change.

  • Cutting pollution on day one to immediately improve the quality of air, water, and public health.
  • Re-entering the Paris Agreement to expand his plan on a global scale.
  • Installing the first net-zero emission budget in history by 2030. This budget will include stopping fossil fuel leasings, focusing on the use of renewable resources.
  • Mobilizing the $5 trillion to fund infrastructures, innovations, and communities to empower citizens with the ability to create change. Areas being invested into include research and development, public health, transportation, housing, businesses, and startups.
  • Working towards a guarantee of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, an ambitious goal that lines up with the 2050 emissions goal supported by the Green New Deal, which President Trump feels strongly about.
  • Defending communities that are preparing and fighting against extreme weather conditions (including fire, floods, droughts, and hurricanes).

Public Opinion

Beto’s plan sounds like a saving grace from the horrors of climate change. However, individuals are questioning the validity of the proposition.

One of which is Varshini Prakash, the executive director of the Sunrise Movement. She is a part of a youth-led activist group that advocates for the Green New Deal. In a statement, Prakash states that “his plan is out of line with the timeline [the Green New Deal]  lays out and the scale of action that scientists say is necessary to take here in the United States to give our generation a livable future”.  

With the Green New Deal well-known in the public eye, O’Rourke is not the only individual publicly supporting the resolution. For instance, Democratic candidates of 2020, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth, Amy Klobuchar, and Kirsten Gillibrand all co-sponsored the bill.

Thorough Planning

Despite doubts of the plan’s plausibility, a spokesperson for O’Rourke’s campaign made a statement verifying the extensive research put behind the plan. “Beto consulted with impacted individuals and communities, academics, scientists, entrepreneurs, advocates and activists, and local, state, tribal, and federal government leaders.”, the spokesperson said, “Throughout this campaign, he has listened to Americans all across the country and made their ideas and concerns part of his platform as he’s held 113 town halls in 88 cities and answered 625 questions”.

Delving into the lives of citizens throughout the United States, the solutions Beto proposed are inspired through the stories of Americans in every state. Whether through floods in Iowa or wind and solar job growth in Texas, his platform claims to be dedicated to the quality of life of all US Citizens.

Conclusion

There is no doubt, the former Texan Democratic congressman’s plan is ambitious. However, O’Rourke understands that climate change is a “growing emergency” and is treating it as such. It is possible Beto may be the politician to further a political movement to stop the earth from sliding past a point of no return in less than a generation. 

However, whether this plan will be the proposal to save the environment, that is up to voters to decide. Political proposals against climate change aren’t new and they aren’t going away. 

But the most important thing about these plans is that they actually need to be executed to hold any value. Oh, and Generation Z should get involved too.

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Australia Gets Flamed For Neglecting The Climate Emergency In The Pacific

Rich Bowden

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Australia gets flamed for its climate inaction

Former Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga has re-opened the controversy over Australia’s high-handed approach at this year’s Pacific Islands Forum. Australia has been accused of trying to silence Pacific leaders, like Sopoaga, who are demanding it to do more to combat climate change.

Tuvalu hosted the Pacific Islands Forum in August. 

At the forum, Australia pressured Sopoaga among other pro-climate action leaders from the Pacific, to accept a watered-down communique. Many leaders believe it would do little to combat the climate emergency in the Pacific.

Australia not tackling the Pacific’s unique climate challenges

Sopoaga told Australia’s SBS News he thought hosting the PIF forum in Tuvalu would highlight the challenges facing smaller Pacific nations. He said he sought to show countries like Australia the existential threat climate change poses to low-lying countries like Tuvalu.

However, he regretted that support was not forthcoming. Further, he didn’t like that Pacific leaders who spoke out on climate change had the chance to accept hush money.

“Putting this money on the table … and then expecting Pacific Island countries like Tuvalu to say ‘OK, we’ll stop talking about climate change’ … is completely irresponsible,” he added.

Sopoaga said action was needed at domestic level in countries such as Australia to have any effect.

“Any amount of money that is coming with the Step-Up [Pacific aid program] cannot be seen as an excuse for no action at a domestic level to cut down on greenhouse emissions.”

Climate change poses an existential threat to Tuvalu

Tuvalu, like a number of low-lying Pacific micro-nations, is under threat from climate change. The sea has almost claimed two of the nine islands. And with the highest point only 4.6 meters above sea level, locals fear they will one day be completely swamped. 

Home to just 11,000 people and an average of just 6.6 feet above sea level, Tuvalu is in danger. In fact, its people are already making plans to evacuate should sea levels rise further.

Sopoaga has previously rejected offers to relocate the people, saying it won’t make a significant difference.

“Moving outside of Tuvalu will not solve any climate change issues,” Sopoaga says. He adds, “If you put these people in the middle of industrialized countries it will simply boost their consumptions and increase greenhouse gas emissions,” as he told The Guardian in May. 

Sopoaga’s term as Tuvalu PM came to an end last month after losing a vote in the country’s parliament. The expectation is that his successor, Kausea Natano, will continue the call to action from the world on climate change.

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Brexit Is Overshadowing Climate Activism

Haider Sarwar

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Brexit

Due to the ongoing Brexit crisis in the United Kingdom, discussions regarding climate change legislation has been postponed. The European Union meets four times a year in Brussels, Belgium, and this past week the British Parliament asked for yet another extension on formulating a plan to decarbonize by 2050.

The 2050 Plan

In November 2018, the EU proposed to have its total carbon emissions reach a net-zero by 2050. This was a move unique to the EU, and it sought to motivate other countries such as the US and Brazil to follow its footsteps. Over half the members of the EU, including the UK, have signed onto this plan.

Critics have deemed this plan as ambitious and near impossible. Moreover, there is a lot of pressure on European governments from large industries. Still, there is hope for the EU to reach this goal as many of the members are adamant about decarbonizing all of Europe. The biggest obstacle to this plan, however, is the countries’ internal affairs. The prime example of this is the UK’s notorious Brexit plan.

Brexit’s Prolonged Existence

In June 2016, a referendum on whether to leave the European Union was held in the UK. Then, 51.6% of people voted to leave. Ever since, deals illustrating better ways for the UK to leave the EU have been proposed. Both the EU and the UK have shared and torn apart these deals. Today, the disagreements persist with a very obscure future. 

It is partly because of this ongoing issue that the EU was unable to present a proper plan for decarbonization at the UN climate summit last month. The aforementioned meeting in Brussels also illustrated that the UK won’t adopt the decarbonization plan. Many EU officials have expressed annoyance towards the UK for this reason. Climate activist Greta Thunberg further argued that if politicians and governments were serious about tackling climate change, they would not spend their time “talking about taxes and Brexit.”

The adoption of the 2050 plan from the UK is being pushed to take place in 2020. The EU has little interest in refusing the UK of an extension, too. This is because a chaotic no-deal scenario would be initiated by the EU, which would be less than advantageous. 

Internal issues such as Brexit have been an obstacle to the EU’s proposed climate action for years, now. It is essential for Great Britain to pull itself out of the ongoing issue to create a plan for the future.

Will The UK Set Aside Politics To Focus On Climate Change?

Many activists wish to see countries such as the UK set aside their politics to focus on more important issues like climate change. It is unclear how long it will take for the UK and the EU to finally reach an agreement about Brexit, but there is hope that this extension will be the last one.

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Congress Unveils First Bill To Address Climate Refugee Crisis

Ari Kelo

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Climate refugee

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a new bill to protect climate refugees.

The Climate Displaced Persons Act, written by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), would create a new federal program specifically for refugees displaced by climate change. If enacted into law, the U.S. would take in at least 50,000 climate refugees each year, beginning in 2020.

Although long overdue, backlash from both President Trump and the Republican-led Senate may stall any attempts to turn this bill into law. Regardless, this bill provides an important blueprint for future policies on climate-related migration.

And notably, this bill is the first of its kind to address the growing number of migrants displaced by climate change.

What is the Climate Displaced Persons Act?

Written in reaction to the rising number of people displaced by climate-related catastrophes, this bill would create an action plan on how the U.S. can help.

Since 2009, a climate-related disaster has displaced about one person every second. This rate accounts for extreme weather events, famine, drought, and rising sea levels, among other climate emergencies.

Overwhelmingly, 22.5 million people have been displaced due to climate change in the past decade. And the UN speculates that number could rise to 200 million forcibly displaced people by 2050.

Accordingly, this bill has two major aims. It intends to “establish a Global Climate Change Resilience Strategy and authorize the admission of climate-displaced persons,” according to its first draft.

In particular, the bill entails the U.S. taking on more responsibility in handling the global crisis.

It would create a humanitarian program separate from the U.S. refugee admissions program, specifically for those affected by climate change. The new program would guarantee the same benefits for climate refugees.

The legislation would also task the Secretary of State with devising a Global Climate Change Resilience Strategy. This is turn will create a Coordinator of Climate Resilience position within the State Department.

If made law, the bill will also provide a minimum of 50,000 climate migrants resettlement opportunities in the U.S. each year.

New legislation for climate refugees

To Rep. Velázquez, immigration policy must acknowledge the role of climate change.

“If we are going to meaningfully discuss comprehensive climate equity and climate justice, we must inject security assistance and resettlement opportunities for climate-displaced persons into our conversations,” she said in a press release.

So far, the U.S. has failed in this cause. Just last month, President Trump reduced the maximum refugee cap to 18,000 — a new low. And with his administration tightening up on immigration of all kinds, it’s unlikely he’ll loosen up on climate-related migration, to say the least.

But President Trump’s refusal to support climate science or immigration hasn’t dissuaded Rep. Velázquez.

“Despite this Administration’s efforts to strip the world’s most vulnerable populations of refuge, America will continue to stand tall as a safe haven for immigrants,” she insisted.

After its introduction on Wednesday, the House referred the bill to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The Committees on the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce will also review the bill before the House continues its deliberation.

Democrat Edward Markey, a key supporter of the Green New Deal, has introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

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