John Delaney is serious about tackling climate change. It’s a big problem and it requires big solutions, which is why Delaney is announcing his $4 trillion Climate Plan that is full of new ideas and innovative solutions.
According to the IPCC, limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require achieving net zero emissions by 2050. We are already seeing the early effects of climate change, and that level of rapid emissions reductions is necessary to avoid the catastrophic consequences that would result from any further delay. The difference between the warming we have already experienced and the 2°C warming we could see if we don’t act now to reduce emissions is a greater risk of water scarcity, increased sea-level rise, greater damage to ecosystems and animal habitats, declines in human health, and the displacement of millions of people. In addition to the environmental effects, the Department of Defense has characterized climate change as a threat multiplier. Delaney’s plan will put us on the right track to reduce emissions in time to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. However, we need the international community to come together to combat global warming which is why Delaney would also rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on Day 1 of his presidency.
Carbon Fee and Dividend
The largest component of Delaney’s climate plan that will have the biggest impact is his Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal. It is time we put a price on carbon to end polluters’ free ride. While in Congress, Delaney introduced the first bipartisan Carbon Fee and Dividend bill in over 10 years. The proposal starts the fee at $15 per metric ton of CO2 equivalent and increases the cost by $10 each year. Implementing a carbon fee, where the revenue is returned to the American people, is the best method for providing the market incentives to reduce our emissions. Delaney’s Carbon Fee will reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2050. Taxpayers would also be given options with what to do with the dividend, including investing in a tax-advantaged savings account like a 529 for future education purposes or a retirement account. The Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal has bipartisan support from various industries in the private sector as well as the environmental community. However, we need more innovative solutions that will get us to net-zero emissions by 2050.
Direct Air Capture/Negative Emissions Technology (NET)
Reducing new carbon emissions and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy will not be enough to limit global warming. According to the IPCC, to achieve net zero emissions and prevent warming in excess of 1.5°C we will need Negative Emissions Technology, including direct air capture, to remove a minimum of 100 Gt of CO2 from the atmosphere. This technology is currently too expensive to be implemented at the necessary scale, which is why Delaney proposes ending the federal government’s fossil fuel subsidies and making an annual $5 billion investment in NET.
- Delaney will promote NET, thus bringing down the cost, through a reverse auction program that gives first access to government subsidies to the companies that can capture and store atmospheric carbon for the lowest cost.
- By promoting innovation in NET and implementing the carbon fee, Delaney will create a powerful financial incentive to capture carbon instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. As emitting carbon becomes more expensive due to the increasing carbon fee, it will be more economical to capture the carbon and avoid paying the fee.
Increasing Renewable Energy Research Budget 5-Fold
We will solve climate change the American way, innovating our way out of the problem. This will require continued robust government support. Delaney proposes a 5-fold increase in DOE green energy programs, including the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, and the Office of Nuclear Energy. This investment will support research to improve energy storage, battery performance, sustainable transportation technology, grid efficiency, renewable energy, energy efficiency, carbon capture, advanced nuclear, and energy conservation technology.
To continue private sector investment in the renewable energy economy, Delaney will bolster renewable energy tax credits.
To spur climate change innovation in the private and non-profit sectors, Delaney will create a new challenge grant program for significant innovations in:
- Preventing and stopping wildfires
- Reducing emissions from agriculture
- Reducing emissions from manufacturing
- Electrification of freight
- Energy storage and transmission
Delaney proposed the creation of the Climate Corps as part of his National Service Program. The new program would provide opportunities for recent high school graduates to work in low-income urban and rural communities where the Corps members would support these communities’ transition to a green economy, work on environmentally friendly projects, and fight climate change by working on the ground. Under-resourced communities for too long have suffered the most from pollution and climate change, all too often lacking clean water to drink and clean air to breathe. We must provide the manpower and resources to support these communities and recognize that all Americans have a right to a clean, safe, and healthy environment.
In partnership with the government, community-based organizations, and local businesses, Climate Corps members can help communities:
- Identify the most pressing local needs that are hindering the community from transitioning to more environmentally friendly practices
- Provide information and support to families about sustainability, energy efficiency, and renewable energy
- Assist in clean energy projects including solar installation, improving building efficiency, developing community gardens, and increasing awareness about sustainable practices
Climate change skeptics often invoke the false choice of having to choose between jobs or the environment; we can create jobs AND fight climate change at the same time. That’s where the Carbon Throughway comes in.
The Carbon Throughway is a $20 billion infrastructure project that we will construct to safely transport captured CO2 to sites for permanent sequestration and reuse. Building the Carbon Throughway will create tens of thousands of jobs and spur new R&D and innovation in carbon capture. The project would be built with federal labor protections using American steel under a project labor agreement and pay workers prevailing wages. To the extent possible, the Throughway will be built along right of ways of existing pipelines and always abide by the strictest environmental standards. As the carbon fee raises the price of releasing emissions and new innovations in NET make carbon capture cost-effective, the Carbon Throughway will provide an additional financial incentive to capture carbon by facilitating its transfer for commercial uses and permanent sequestration.