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'The Planet Is at Stake': DNC Panel Pushes Biden to Back $16 Trillion Plan to Fight Climate Crisis

"Trump's going to call Biden a lefty no matter what, right? So let's energize our base, let's energize the middle. Let's do what's right."

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Philadelphia City Hall on June 2, 2020. (Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

A DNC panel composed of progressive environmentalists and several allies of Sen. Bernie Sanders is urging presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to commit to spending up to $16 trillion over the next decade to combat the climate crisis and put the U.S. on track for near-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

"These platform recommendations would be the most ambitious policies addressing the climate crisis ever adopted by the Democratic Party."
—Michelle Deatrick, DNC Council on the Environment and Climate Crisis

On Thursday, the 12-member DNC Council on the Environment and Climate Crisis unveiled a 14-page (pdf) Democratic Party platform recommendation calling for "urgent action on the climate and environmental emergencies" that centers the needs of frontline communities and ensures a just transition away from fossil fuels.

"Our platform provides a blueprint for ambitious action to fight the climate crisis and advance climate and environmental justice," Michelle Deatrick, chair of the DNC Climate Council, said in a statement. "There's dwindling time for us to act before devastating damage to our planet, country and people is inevitable and irreversible."

"These policies center environmental justice for frontline and vulnerable communities, urgent climate action, and worker empowerment," said Deatrick, who served as Michigan co-chair for Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign. "These platform recommendations would be the most ambitious policies addressing the climate crisis ever adopted by the Democratic Party."

The committee is calling for the immediate development of "a national climate and environment action plan through 2050, informed by the vision and aspirations of the Green New Deal and aligned with these aggressive, necessary emissions and energy generation goals."

The panel specifically urges Biden and the DNC to adopt a platform that supports:

  • Transitioning the U.S. to 100% renewable energy in electricity, transportation, and buildings by 2030;
  • Permanently banning fracking nationwide;
  • Rescinding the Trump administration's rollbacks of environmental regulations;
  • Establishing a Just Transition Task Force to support the workers and communities that are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis;
  • Ending federal funding for fossil fuel projects at home and overseas;
  • Banning crude oil exports; and
  • Ensuring "massive investments" in clean infrastructure projects to create millions of jobs.

"These recommendations result from diverse expertise and experience of its contributors, and they can help shape the policies of the new administration to address the environmental and climate action needed to create a sustainable nation," said Peggy Shepard, a member of the panel and executive director of advocacy group WE ACT for Environmental Justice. "This moment requires us to increase our resilience and commitment to dismantling the systemic, racial, social justice, and income inequalities that plague this country."

The committee said it now plans to push for the full adoption of its policy recommendations at the Democratic National Convention in August.

"We urge the DNC to adopt our recommendations, and will be campaigning hard to ensure they do," said Deatrick. "Now more than ever, the Democratic Party must show it is serious about doing the hard work of combating the climate crisis."

The platform recommended by the DNC panel is far more ambitious than the $2 trillion climate plan Biden put forth during the 2020 Democratic primary, and environmentalists have been pushing the former vice president to move closer to Sanders' sweeping Green New Deal proposal.

Deatrick told Politico that a bold climate platform is both necessary for the planet and good politics for Biden and the Democratic Party, given that the climate crisis is "one of the top two issues for Democrats and a lot of independents."

"Trump's going to call Biden a lefty no matter what, right?" said Deatrick. "So let's energize our base, let's energize the middle. Let's do what's right because the planet is at stake."

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