Presidential candidate Joe Biden recently announced his policy proposals for addressing climate change, which he accurately admits is an “existential threat.” His campaign website outlines his plan for a “Clean Energy Revolution” to address the climate emergency we are facing. So what does this supposedly revolutionary plan entail?
For starters, the Biden Plan ensures the U.S. will achieve 100% clean energy with net zero emissions by 2050. Which is thirty years from now. Twenty years after the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says there will already be catastrophic climate shifts. The U.S. is currently seeing an increased frequency of heat waves, a higher incidence of forest fires, an increase in tropical storms, and accelerating coastal flooding. And these global warming related events are only projected to get worse, according to a U.S. government report. We can’t take thirty years to address existential threats; we have to address them now.
Biden’s plan also promises a number of other gestures that will be inadequate to deal with the climate emergency we are facing. He promises a $400 billion investment in clean energy research and innovation over four years, which seems paltry when you consider oil and gas industries brought in $181 billion in 2018 alone. He plans to add an additional 500,000 new public electric vehicle charging stations by 2030, an insufficient plan for addressing transportation emissions when electric vehicles comprise only 2% of all vehicle purchases. Biden also promises to invest in biofuels and nuclear energy, energy sources that respectively contribute to global warming or pose serious public health risks. And these are only a few of his more specific proposals, with most of his plan comprised of generic promises for achieving a greener America.
And all of this, he assures, will be done while increasing economic growth. America will not fall behind “in the clean energy race for the future,” and Biden’s plan guarantees economic benefits for multiple industries. But the capitalist system we live under demands ever greater profits. The fossil fuel industry is not going to give up on its investments, nor is expensive infrastructure going to be instantly rebuilt to support novel renewable energy sources. Green energy investments may increase, but never at the scale that will be necessary to secure a future for generations to come. You can’t benefit capital investment and the planet at the same time.
That Biden has a climate policy at all does speak to the fact that people are rightly concerned about their future in an age of impending global climate catastrophe. But we can’t put our trust in Biden, or any politician, to tackle climate change on the scale we need. They simply can’t. The capitalist system we live under won’t allow them. We need to fight the system in order to save our environment.
featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons