Former Vice President Joe Biden must ditch his industry-friendly, "middle-of-the-road" climate policy in favor of an agenda that completely rejects fossil fuels if he wishes to be taken seriously as an environmental leader in the 2020 Democratic presidential race.
That's the message of a petition launched Wednesday by 350 Action. The group charges Biden's centrist approach to the climate emergency "won't cut it anymore" and demands that he "do better."
"The other 2020 frontrunners, Senators Sanders and Warren, have plans for the people. They have pursued the gold standard of climate leadership with real commitment to make polluters pay."
—Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, 350 Action
"Vice President Joe Biden has dragged his feet in responding to the urgency of the climate and environmental crises across the country," Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, 350 Action's North America director, said in a statement. "Stunningly, we've watched a strident Biden attend fundraisers hosted by fossil fuel power brokers and rub shoulders with dirty fuel magnates."
O'Laughlin said Biden's climate plan, which leaves the door open to new fossil fuel development, pales in comparison to the sweeping environmental platforms of leading 2020 contenders Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
350 Action's climate scorecard gives Biden "unknowns" on two of its three criteria: Support for the Green New Deal and opposition to fossil fuel drilling. The group also noted that Biden "has supported demonstrably false solutions like 'carbon capture.'"
"The other 2020 frontrunners, Senators Sanders and Warren, have plans for the people," said O'Laughlin. "They have pursued the gold standard of climate leadership with real commitment to make polluters pay for a just transition and the Green New Deal. We deserve better than Joe Biden's silence in the face of crisis."
The petition makes four specific demands of Biden:
- Oppose all new federal permits and leases for fossil fuel infrastructure and extraction, from pipelines to LNG export terminals and coal mining leases;
- Commit to investigating the fossil fuel industry's role in causing the climate crisis and misleading the public about it;
- Support a national end to fracking for oil and gas; and
- Respect his commitment to the spirit of the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge by rejecting campaign funds and campaign advice from fossil fuel executives and lobbyists and their corporate PACs.
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As Common Dreams reported last Thursday, Biden told an activist from the youth-led Sunrise Movement that people who want fracking in the United States banned immediately "oughta vote for someone else."
350 Action has said all candidates must meet the climate crisis with urgency:
Our next president must be a real climate leader. So ahead of the 2020 elections, we’re keeping score: Who will stand up to fossil fuel billionaires & fight for a #GreenNewDeal—and who doesn’t pass the test?
— 350 Action (@350action) March 27, 2019
O'Laughlin said the goal of the new petition is to pressure Biden to strengthen his positions and "show him the kind of leader he must be for this moment."
"The 2020 presidential election is an unparalleled opportunity for public officials to demonstrate leadership in a political landscape that has courted climate denial and enabled fossil fuel profiteers," said O'Laughlin. "We are in dire need of action that is bold and directly addresses ongoing climate injustice."