The political arena is heating up when it comes to presidential candidates who seem to be increasingly keen on creating climate reform proposals. This phenomenon seemed to have stemmed from Beto O’Rourke‘s $5 trillion climate change reform plan. But since then, Washington Governor Jay Inslee seems to have one-upped O’Rourke with a new $9 trillion climate reform plan. What’s more important than the monetary backing of the proposal, however, are their core ideas.
In what Inslee calls the Evergreen Economy Plan, he proposes five key ideas to move America towards becoming a more sustainable nation.
Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy
Specifically, Inslee’s plan hopes to have America be powered by 100% carbon-neutral electricity by 2030. Further, the proposal strives toward an America with “a fully clean, renewable and zero-emission electricity sector by 2035”. Now, that sounds like an incredibly ambitious goal. But if Inslee is able to pull it off, America will see an additional $600 billion invested into clean energy between 2020 and 2030. That, in turn, by generous estimates, should create millions of jobs.
To accelerate clean energy deployment, Inslee’s plan is comprised of introducing electrification upgrades in both households and businesses, supporting clean energy developments through a new federal financing authority, and improving financial incentives for clean energy deployment.
Building a Climate-Smart Infrastructure
With there being many complaints regarding our crumbling infrastructure, a crucial aspect of it is certainly the pollution it contributes. Under Inslee’s plan, he hopes to invest in sustainable transportation, clean water, affordable housing, among other initiatives. Inslee’s team estimates that the changes he hopes to implement will require an investment of $3 trillion, a hefty investment for sure but one that’s necessary to reach his ambitious goals.
Inslee hopes to have America achieve 100% zero-emission new vehicles by 2030, as an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are characteristic of the auto industry. Of course, this means that companies like Tesla are the future. As competition for market share in the EV market continues to grow, legacy companies like Ford Motors, among others, are likely to follow suit as both consumers and the government recognizes the value of electric-powered vehicles.
Smart grids are also a part of Inslee’s plan to improve American infrastructure. Of course, Tesla is innovating in this space too with its Powerpack. Micro-grids and other ways to localize power distribution networks is yet another way to put decision-making, when it comes to energy, in the hands of people.
Clean water needs no real introduction. When cities like Flint are suffering, as their citizens still suffer from the shortage of clean water, everyone loses. Innovations are already happening here, including through Jaden Smith‘s company, Just Water, but more needs to happen, without a doubt, and government action outside of private sector involvement definitely sounds like a must.
The feasibility of such an investment is definitely a question, as disagreements over the urgency of the climate change issue is definitely a point of contention that may prevent such a large amount of spending from happening.
Becoming a Leader In Clean Manufacturing
Inslee believes that it’s imperative to scale up domestic manufacturing and gives domestic manufacturers tax credits to incentivize manufacturing with sustainability goals in mind. Specifically, Inslee is interested in proposing legislation to Congress to increase investments into zero-emission vehicles.
Additional to Inslee’s focus on transportation, he also believes in what his team calls a “Buy Clean” program. Such a program would entail a federal procurement of low-carbon materials. It sounds like he’s interested in having the government become increasingly involved in aiding businesses to reduce their carbon footprints. It’s unclear how keen businesses will be in involving themselves in such a program, especially with party-line disagreements in government involvement in small business.
A less controversial plan is to crack down on companies that emit large amounts of hydrofluorocarbons, commonly referred to as HFCs. Under his plan, he’d use “executive authority to require oil and gas companies and utilities to find and stop methane leaks in pipelines delivering gas to power plants and industry”.
And Inslee hopes to take his proposal beyond the United States too. He believes that as America makes greater strides towards sustainability, that other nations are likely to follow suit, hence move our world towards a greener future. Clearly, that’s a good thing for all parties involved.
Invest in Innovation and Scientific Research
Inslee hopes to invest in STEM and climate science education at the K12 level, as well as at colleges (particularly HBCUs and other colleges that serve minorities) that are currently doing research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Beyond funding research and science, Inslee is keen on making more people aware of the implications and ramifications of climate change. He cites President Trump’s actions “to undermine America’s climate science and its scientific community” as an important reason to make sure Americans are aware of the effects of climate change.
What he doesn’t mention explicitly is Trump‘s affinity towards the coal industry, a key point of contention between the two. But at this point, even Trump realizes he needs to prioritize climate change reform for 2020 as citizens become increasingly keen on sustainability initiatives.
Overall, Inslee hopes that America will continue to innovate in the energy sector, continue to do research into climate science, and continue to move the country towards sustainability.
Ensure Good Jobs
This is a similar idea to what AOC proposed in her Green New Deal. It definitely sounds like Inslee has more specifics in his proposal in terms of how we’re going to get there, though.
First and foremost, he hopes to introduce a G.I. Bill for impacted workers and reinvestments of resources from the coal community. Specifically, Inslee refers to how companies in the coal industry are laying off coal miners and other employees as a result of automation. Specifically, he cites some poor practices that are associated with companies in the coal space. These include reducing their pension obligations for employees, along with insurance benefits, among others. As a result, Inslee believes that America needs to provide greater support to workers working in the energy sector.
Particularly, Inslee believes that we should provide retirement benefits for impacted workers. Although Inslee’s one of the most outspoken politicians about the coal industry, it does seem like he’s interested in making sure that the employees of these industries are taken care of.
Inslee’s plan is likely the most specific of its kind, compared to his Democratic peers in the 2020 field. Like other proposals (e.g. O’Rourke’s), they’re wildly ambitious and so it’ll be interesting to see if they actually play out. Climate change hasn’t really been a huge focus in any other presidential election to date, but as young people continue to engage in activities like climate strikes and the like, it’s starting to look like climate change is definitely an issue young people are looking to vote on in 2020.