It’s Climate Plan Tuesday, apparently.
Hours after Joe Biden shared his big climate plan, 2020 Democratic hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren dropped her vision for what she’s calling “economic patriotism.” And the first part of that is a $2 trillion vision for green manufacturing that would leverage the government as a procurer, innovator, investor, and exporter.
Warren has thrown her support behind the Green New Deal, and the new manufacturing policy is a nod toward how she would turn support into action if she wins the White House. Like the Green New Deal, which harkens to the original New Deal of the mid-1930s, Warren’s new plan also borrows from the past policies. Laying out the tenets in a Medium post, Warren called for a Green Apollo Program, Green Industrial Mobilization, and a Green Marshall Plan. All told, the policies would leverage money raised from her corporate tax proposal and ending fossil fuel subsidies to pay for a slew of new programs.
The Green Industrial Mobilization is the biggest chunk of change Warren would mobilize, and it would focus on the federal government’s procurement process. Spending $1.5 trillion over 10 years on stuff the government buys may sound like a total dead end policy or make your eyes glaze over, but here’s the thing: The federal government is one of the biggest purchasers of stuff in the world. Cars, computers, coffee makers, cement, basically, you name it, the government probably buys it to the tune of roughly $500 billion annually. Warren’s plan allots $150 billion per year to buying non-carbon polluting versions of that stuff, from zero-emission vehicles to energy efficient dishwashers. The senator argues that would help drive demand, spur innovation in the private sector, and eventually drop the costs for everyday consumers.
The Green Apollo Program would spread $400 billion in spending over 10 years on clean energy R&D, an order of magnitude more money than the U.S. has spent in the past decade research into zero-carbon energy. Warren’s proposal includes creating a new National Institutes of Clean Energy (NICE, which I’m pretty sure automatically means it gets $69 billion in funding) that would serve as a new hub for clean energy research and grants. Her vision of economic patriotism promises that any breakthroughs would pay dividends back to Americans outside of, you know, having a habitable planet.
The final part is the Green Marshall Plan. With the American clean energy economy roaring, Warren would commit $100 billion toward ensuring that all those low-carbon goods and technologies made here get exported to the rest of the world so it can decarbonize too. The U.S. is responsible for about 15 percent of global carbon emissions. As the plan rightly points out, if you decarbonize the U.S. but not the rest of the world, the climate still goes to hell.
In an analysis commissioned by the campaign, financial firm Moody’s found that Warren’s plan would increase U.S. GDP growth by 1 percent over 10 years and add 1.2 million new jobs. The analysis also blithely notes that the plan would also likely “help mitigate the humanitarian crisis created by climate change, although that is outside the scope of this analysis.”
Warren’s plan represents the ever-expanding mix of ideas Democratic presidential candidates are putting forward to deal with climate change. It also represents the continued evolution of climate change from an environmental problem to one at the heart of economic policy. The Green New Deal has amplified the drive in this evolution with strong calls for including labor unions in the conversation, plans for a just transition, and ensuring jobs remain a key priority. Warren’s goals were likely painted in broad brushstrokes by design, but with her new plan, Warren shows how the government could start to fill in the policy gaps.