There’s been a Jay Inslee-sized hole in the presidential race politics ever since the Washington governor dropped out the race last August. He’s got his hands full now with effectively managing the coronavirus outbreak, but the people behind his climate plan are back at it.
On Wednesday, the group dubbed the Evergreen Collaborative released a roadmap for the nation to emerge from the pandemic and hit the ground running pivoting the economy to clean energy. The 85-page plan shared with Earther borrows from Inslee as well as Elizabeth Warren’s expansive climate plans and has actions Congress and the president could take separately or in tandem. The timing comes as presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden looks to make inroads with young, climate-first voters who are a little, uh, unenthused about his climate plan and Congress considers another stimulus to help Americans cope with the coronavirus. They might want to take a look at what’s on offer.
The coronavirus has shown that the perennial bUt HoW wIlL wE pAy FoR iT approach to federal policy is a mirage. Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus package, and there’s a good chance we’ll see another round of stimulus funding. The so-called Evergreen Action Plan calls on the president and Congress to work together on funding a massive climate program, starting as part of a coronavirus stimulus package that adds to other calls for a green stimulus.
But that would be just the tip of the iceberg. The plan borrows liberally from Inlsee’s climate plan and Elizabeth Warren’s Blue New Deal (some of Inslee’s advisors went on to work on the Warren campaign and the Blue New Deal in particular). I won’t recap all the hits in here from his seven-part series of plans, but suffice to say, what AOC dubbed the “gold standard” of presidential climate plans is well represented, though Inslee himself had no role in drafting this plan since [gestures wildly at the state of the world].
There are also some new wrinkles tossed in. Key among them is a call for establishing a Office of Climate Mobilization at the White House that’s akin to the Office of War Mobilization established during World War II and a National Climate Council modeled after the modern-day National Security Council. That would centralize power to “forcefully drive” federal climate action and coordinate planning across all federal agencies. It stands in stark contrast the how the Trump administration has run just about everything, including its spectacularly disastrous coronavirus response.
One of the other key components of the plan is prioritizing hiring experts in climate policy and efficiently managing government resources to ensure the plan succeeds. Again, this is the polar opposite of the Trump administration who has appointed people with an express interest in tearing down the agencies they lead. In fact, the whole plan is basically a rejection of the Trump doctrine of malevolent neglect for the biosphere to enrich fossil fuel cronies. Which yes.
The Evergreen Action Plan also offers a valuable roadmap to the Biden team, which has been sent a copy of the plan along with Congressional Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Lead Chuck Schumer, and House and Senate committees dealing with the climate crisis. Members of Inslee’s climate team have informally advised the Biden campaign as well, which is good because he can use the help on climate.
Biden’s climate plan is fine, but fine doesn’t really cut it at this point. The world has a decade to cut carbon by more than 7 percent a year over the next decade to keep warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of pre-industrial levels. That means radical transformation of everything, and at an even faster pace in the U.S. and other developed countries that polluted with reckless abandon.
The Evergreen Action Plan represents a clear way Biden could give his climate plan a shot in the arm, especially since he hasn’t been keen to pick up Bernie Sanders’ or Warren’s plans—the two highest rated plans according to a number of groups—or go all in on the Green New Deal. And picking it up would be an important overture to progressive activists who aren’t ready to jump onboard with the guy who has so far done his best to alienate climate voters by baselessly trashing former rival Bernie Sanders’ climate plan and maybe violating the pledge he made to not take fossil fuel money. His climate record is also not the best, and clearly he has some work to do on the plan and earning progressive voters’ trust and votes.
Setting up working groups with Bernie’s campaign on key issues, including climate is a good start. And there’s an obvious next step staring Biden in the face. A group of eight progressive groups wrote an open letter asking Biden laying out some steps he could take to prove he was for worthy of their vote. Their ask on climate? Bringing trusted voices into his campaign and transition should he win the White House, including “Governor Inslee’s policy team on climate.” Dude might want to pick up the Evergreen Action Plan and start taking notes sooner than later.