As climate change quickly became an important point of discussion for politicians, most presidential candidates have kept the pace and announced plans to tackle the issue. Jay Inslee is running on a climate platform, what he calls the Evergreen Economy Plan. Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, and Cory Booker called climate change the number one geopolitical issue for the United States; the former two have extensive plans to combat the issue. But don’t forget about Andrew Yang — he gets the climate crisis and he’s a man with a plan … a couple of them too.
Yang recently did a Reddit AMA, and users wanted to know more about his climate position. Well, voters asked and he answered:
Andrew Yang expressed five main ways he would tackle the climate crisis as President of the United States:
1. Dramatically Improve the Appeal of Renewable Energy
Yang (rightfully) points out that the United States makes up only 15% of global emissions, meaning that other countries need to get involved in the fight against the climate crisis too. Specifically, as it comes to renewables, some countries aren’t as enthusiastic. For instance, China recently announced it would stop subsidizing onshore renewable energy projects. In turn, Chinese investments in renewables have dropped some 39%.
Though global investments into renewable energy dropped, it’s not all downhill. For India, Japan, Spain, and Sweden, investments went up as much as 200%. As capital costs and political stalling serve as barriers for countries to implement solar and wind farms, the appeal of renewable energy, for some reason or another, simply isn’t high enough for widespread adoption. Specific to the United States, Yang pledges to “Direct the EPA to coordinate with state and local governments to measure the impact of different policies on effecting positive impacts in the area of renewables adoption.” In other words, he’ll try to make it as easy as possible for communities to adopt renewables as a power source.
2. Rejoin the Paris Accord
Yang says he wants to have the United States rejoin the Paris Agreement. And that’s probably because he knows that most Americans are on board with it. In 2017, Yale found through a national poll that some 70% of Americans want the United States to remain in the agreement. Further, The Atlantic reports that the debate over the Paris Agreement isn’t as partisan as most may think. In fact, almost 50% of self-identified Trump supporters were on board with America being a part of the agreement.
The agreement would entail the United States making commitments to reducing emissions and getting involved in capping temperature increases, among other tenets. If Yang is elected, he hopes to have America join almost 200 other signatories in the fight against the climate crisis, a position antithetical to Trump’s.
3. Implement a Carbon Fee and Dividend
Fundamentally, a carbon fee and dividend-based policy would entail charging companies for carbon emissions resulting from burning fossil fuels. Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), an organization that has been pushing for a carbon fee for nearly a decade now, suggests:
“The fee would start out low — $15 per metric ton — and increase by $10 each year.”
Yang has a more ambitious agenda. According to his campaign website, he’d like to start the carbon tax at $40 per metric ton and pit half of the earnings towards funding his signature UBI policy, and the other half in “enhancing [the] efficiency of fossil fuels or increasing availability of renewable resources.”
To hold other nations accountable, President Yang would “Charge a fee on imports from countries that don’t impose a similar carbon fee or some type of carbon tax.”
When it comes to consumer prices, estimates show that for every $10 per metric ton, the consumer would pay an extra 11 cents per gallon on gas and 1% for products ranging from TVs to airplane tickets, according to CCL. On the other hand, though, the fee that companies pay would go right back to the end consumer. These consumers will be able to pay for goods in the market, which will have effectively increased in cost too.
According to Forbes, a carbon tax could also create jobs, an idea central to Yang’s campaign.
4. Plant a lot of Trees
Some organizations have long been on board with planting a lot of trees. The Nature Conservancy, for example, is on a mission to plant 1 billion trees. One Tree Planted, a Vermont-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is solicits donations for the purpose of helping plant trees. Yang wants to encourage this kind of behavior on a larger scale.
Planting trees comes with a variety of benefits, which include but are not limited to removing and storing excess carbon dioxide, cleaning the air, preventing water pollution, and preventing soil erosion. Andrew urges that we “plant hundreds of thousands of trees as fast as possible.” In a technology-enabled society, that prospect doesn’t seem impossible anymore. Allegedly, drones can help plant over 100,000 trees every day. The environmental impact would be huge if the Yang administration could make this happen.
5. Look Towards Geoengineering
Geoengineering, or intervening in Earth’s inherent climate systems, has been a relatively controversial approach to tackling the climate crisis. However, Yang seems to be bullish about the prospect. On aerosols, he’s referring to the idea that they could reflect sunlight and cool the Earth, NASA finds.
On his campaign website, Yang says that as president, he will form a “new Global Geoengineering Institute and invite international participation.”
Through the institute, he hopes to increase investments into geoengineering research, including “cloud-seeding technology to increase the atmosphere’s reflectivity.”
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