A new climate action plan put forth by Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday is being praised for highlighting the enormous economic benefits that would result from a rapid shift in the U.S. to a renewable energy that centers the needs of workers and vulnerable communities.
Inslee unveiled his "Evergreen Economy Plan" at a press conference in Washington, D.C., calling for a $9 trillion investment in green jobs over 10 years, which he said would create eight million well-paying jobs for Americans as the country mobilizes to create a carbon-neutral economy.
The green economy plan would create "high-paying, high-skilled jobs building a stronger, healthier, more just, inclusive and sustainable future," Inslee's 38-page proposal reads. It would also protect collective bargaining power for unions; ensure a "just transition" and jobs for fossil fuel workers; and mandate employers follow guidelines for gender pay parity.
"Inslee is right to recognize that moving off fossil fuels isn't just imperative for our climate, it's a massive economic opportunity," said Charlie Jiang, a campaigner with Greenpeace USA. "We have the chance right now to create millions of new, family-sustaining jobs in the renewable energy economy, a chance our next president cannot afford to pass up. Most importantly, Inslee's plan recognizes that the workers being exploited by the fossil fuel industry and those on the frontlines of climate disasters should be the first to benefit."
"We are never shackled to the past," Inslee said at the press conference. "We are never shackled to the technologies of centuries ago. We always invent the future because it is in our nature to invent, to create, to build."
The governor also announced the plan in a video posted to social media.
My Evergreen Economy Plan is a robust blueprint to defeat climate change while creating 8 million good union jobs, closing the gap in wealth and prosperity, and empowering workers of all races and genders. pic.twitter.com/aQVnhHq0yK
— Jay Inslee (@JayInslee) May 16, 2019
"The proposal lays out a five-pronged strategy to launch an unprecedented deployment of renewable energy, fortify the nation’s infrastructure to cope with climate change, spur a clean-tech manufacturing boom, increase federal research funding fivefold," Alexander Kaufman reported at HuffPost.
By spending $300 billion per year, the plan states, another $600 billion in economic activity will be generated.
The Evergreen Economy Plan builds on Inslee's first climate action proposal—the "100 Percent Clean Energy for America Plan"—which he unveiled earlier this month. The plan outlined how the governor would ensure all newly-built vehicles and buildings are carbon pollution-free by 2030 and that all utlities in the U.S. run with zero carbon emissions by 2035.
The earlier proposal was met with enthusiasm from climate action groups who called on Inslee to continue to "push the envelope." A number of campaigners applauded the Evergreen Economy Plan for doing just that.
350.org co-founder Bill McKibben praised the proposal as "really powerful and comprehensive."
"This charts a workable path forward," he tweeted.
— Dr. Genevieve Guenther (@DoctorVive) May 16, 2019
“Some people say we can’t have environmental justice and economic growth while defeating climate change. They are dead wrong”—@JayInslee
— Sunrise Movement (@sunrisemvmt) May 16, 2019
Daniel Kammen, a contributor to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—which last year released a report warning that world governments must sharply reduce carbon emissions and shift toward renewable energy sources immediately, or the crisis will be irreversible by 2030—also praised Thursday's plan.
"It is not only vital for our environment, but it is a recipe for more affordable housing and vibrant communities, good-paying jobs, corporate and municipal accountability, and global leadership for the United States," Kammen told The Guardian.
Earlier this week, progressives warned against climate action proposals like the one Joe Biden teased but has yet to unveil, described by a Biden adviser as a "middle ground" policy plan. Inslee suggested such proposals have no place in the 2020 election, amid rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events brought on by a warming globe.
"I have made a full-throated call for the mobilization of the U.S. economy to defeat this existential threat," Inslee told MSNBC after announcing his plan.
"When we have people in Iowa seeking high ground," he added, referring to the flooding aftermath he observed on a recent visit there, "we can't have a middle ground proposal."
Inslee alluded to the voters he met in Iowa when he introduced the proposal Thursday.
"It is time for the people of fire and flood to have a president who will stand up and protect them from the ravages of climate change and climate crisis," said Inslee.