WASHINGTON -- Calling the planet “a mess,” 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang released a climate change plan on Monday,
His plan comes amid growing national and international concern about wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil -- and after President Donald Trump skipped a session of the G-7 meeting focused on climate, saying that his first priority is to maintain America's wealth, not trade away that prosperity for climate initiatives that he described as amounting to "dreams and windmills."
The new plan also comes as Yang's upstart White House campaign appears to be picking up steam. He has qualified for next month's Democratic primary debate and a poll out Monday had the entrepreneur at 3% in the party's 2020 field.
Yang wrote on his website: “The right time to deal with this crisis was decades ago. We’ve waited too long, so we need to act fast and recognize that all options need to be on the table in order to adapt to the changed world we live in while mitigating behaviors that make it worse and reversing the damage we’ve already done.”
“We can’t dismiss any ideas – especially not those that have support from the scientific community – or rule anything out because it doesn’t fit our ideological framework,” he continued.
His climate change plan lays out how to achieve zero-net emissions by 2049, and that page on the campaign website is entitled "IT’S WORSE THAN YOU THINK – LOWER EMISSIONS, HIGHER GROUND."
Yang commits to abandoning fossil fuels, meaning zero-emissions requirements for all new cars by 2030, a 100% emission-free electric grid by 2035, net-zero for all transportation sectors by 2040, 85% methane recapture by 2045, and a fully "green" economy by 2049.
Yang’s website also promotes the idea of moving to higher ground “both literally and figuratively.” He says that if elected president he will make up to $40 billion available for people who want to “elevate or relocate their homes, or move to higher ground” from the imminent threat of flooding and wildfires.
Yang also supports a “constitutional amendment requiring states and the federal government to protect, preserve, and improve the environment.”
How much would all of this cost? $4.87 trillion, according to his website.
This would partially be funded by a carbon tax of $40 per ton, rising eventually to $100 per ton, which includes a fee on imports from countries that don’t impose a similar type of carbon fee or tax, the plan says.
Yang would additionally call for ending all federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, stopping all oil and gas development on public lands, and provide a $10 billion debt forgiveness fund for all “rural co-ops that are relying on non-renewable sources, and provide different financing options to these cooperatives to get them to move over to renewable sources.”
His plan includes the $400 billion price tag for passing a “Democracy Dollars” bill, which would give $20 billion to the American people annually so they can support politicians they agree with and to “wash out the influence of lobbyists.”
Yang says in his plan that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortze’s Green New Deal "has done a great job in starting the conversation."
Many Democratic candidates support the Green New Deal, and Bernie Sanders released a $16.3 trillion climate plan that builds on it, calling for the United States to move to renewable energy across the economy by 2050 and to declare climate change a national emergency.
Yang's plan also calls for implementing “space mirrors” as an emergency option: “Space mirrors would involve launching giant foldable mirrors into space that would deploy and reflect much of the sun’s light. This method would be extremely expensive, which is why it should be investigated as a last resort.”
Yang has said that he would recommit to the Paris Climate Agreement while Trump has said he is pulling the U.S out of the landmark 2015 international accord on climate change.
“It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be quick. It’s going to be a generational challenge, and there will be a constant need to find ways to make our impact on Earth more sustainable,” Yang writes in his plan. “But, as many people have said, Earth is the only planet we’ve got. Let’s make it one we’re proud to call home and pass on for generations to come.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2020 Democrats: Andrew Yang introduces plan to tackle climate change