Candidates, Please Steal* Elizabeth Warren's Climate Plans

Illustration for article titled Candidates, Please Steal* Elizabeth Warren's Climate Plans
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Elizabeth Warren is out. The Massachusetts senator announced she’s dropping her bid to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, the New York Times reported Thursday.

It comes after she failed to win any of the primaries or caucuses held to date, including in her home state, a sputtering end to a campaign marked by big ideas and comprehensive plans. While ethering Mike Bloomberg out of existence may have been Warren’s most electric moment, there are far more important parts of her campaign that voters should hope other candidates incorporate as the race moves forward. Fourteen of them, actually.

Warren’s voluminous climate plan is spread over 14 separate documents that touch on everything from the ocean to manufacturing, and any candidate with half a brain would look to those plans as a template to build on, enhance their own plans, and, if they win the nomination and the White House, govern by.


Senator Bernie Sanders has racked up endorsements of climate groups like the Sunrise Movement and 350 Action, and his climate plan has scored very well across a variety of report cards. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s plan isn’t awful, but it is more vague and in serious need of beefing up. Both candidates look at big, broad swaths of the economy, but they’re missing out on certain niche areas that Warren has delved into in much greater detail.

Among the most inspired of Warren’s climate plans is the Blue New Deal, which would prepare a huge chunk of the U.S. economy for the 21st century. Nearly 3 million Americans have jobs tied to the sea, generating $285 billion every year. Add in the Great Lakes region and those numbers balloon to 3.3 million jobs and $304 billion in GDP.

The impacts of climate change on the ocean are some of the most severe. Ocean acidification decimated the shellfish industry in the Northwest, though it has bounced back somewhat thanks to a good plan (ahem) championed by Washington state. Surprise marine heat waves are becoming more common, while dirty infrastructure like oil wells have unleashed pollutants that screw with fisheries. At the same time, oceans can be a huge part of the climate solution, from mangroves that suck carbon out of the sky to offshore wind farms that can power the economy.


Despite that, neither Sanders nor Biden has anything close to a Blue New Deal in their portfolio of climate plans. Warren’s plan—which was partly inspired by a question during CNN’s climate crisis town hall—lays out a pathway any of the remaining candidates could follow, in the process shoring up support in liberal West and East Coast states, building steam in battlegrounds like Florida, and making headway in more conservative states along the Gulf Coast—not to mention, you know, actually working toward saving our planet.

Warren’s most recent plan dropped on Sunday (which feels like 17 years ago) and hits at banks, another area that Sanders and Biden have yet to really get into. While the finance industry has made some moves to slow fossil fuel investments due to activist pressure, bringing the weight of the federal government to bear on them is the type of flex that’s really needed. The plan calls for protecting pensions that have spent decades investing in fossil fuels and tighter regulation of the finance and insurance industries that are at risk of what has been called a “green swan” event that could blow up the global financial system.


Bernie’s climate plan devotes a paragraph to how he would deal with the financial industry, including supporting divestment activists and establishing “new financial rules through the SEC and other regulatory agencies to pressure hedge funds, the insurance industry, and other large investors currently invested in fossil fuels to divest or pay for clean energy investments through clean energy bonds.” What those rules are are left unsaid, but Warren’s plan delves into the nitty gritty.

Meanwhile Biden’s plan mentions coal miner’s benefits, but that’s about it. Like I said, the guy has work to do.


While Bernie has claimed the mantle of climate candidate at this point, it’s absolutely ludicrous to see his plan as the only way to accomplish what’s needed. Warren’s plans for manufacturing, the food system, and federal procurement, among others, all flesh out details that could help build an extremely ambitious, coherent climate policy. Relegating Warren’s plans to the dustbin of primary history would be a huge waste of the brilliance they contain.

* With credit, of course. Don’t be an asshole.


Managing editor, Earther

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If voter enthusiasm holds and things continue to rot and freefall for Trump, Biden most likely will be the next president. With that said, all of the different policy ideas brought up during each of the campaigns are in play and viable. The real issue is the need a ground swell of people with talent to help fix what was hollowed out and broken by Trump and his administration in order to get to zero/normal and then once there build upon/transform what is there to where “we” want it to be .

Anyone remember Trump proclaiming “I’m the king of debt. I’m great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me.” ? Well government hiring and spending will be huge, taxes will most likely be raised for everyone (including the wealthy) because the “government” will need to find ways to stop the ballooning debt and pay for “keeping the lights on” and for the great policies/promises talked about during the campaigns. It’s going to be bad before it gets better.