At the first presidential debate, Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president, Joe Biden, made it clear that he did not support the Green New Deal. He said, “I don’t support the Green New Deal. I support the Biden plan I put forward.” Contrarily, at the vice presidential debate, Mike Pence attempted to argue that a Biden-Harris administration would “impose the Green New Deal.” So which answer is correct? Well the truth is, Biden does not support the Green New Deal and a claim as bold as his at the debate has the potential to alienate more progressive voters. His climate policy also leaves room to hurt his standing with younger voters, for whom climate justice is their top issue. But this election season, we must acknowledge that although Joe Biden does not support the Green New Deal, voting for him is crucial to combating climate change and supporting the environmental justice movement.
Despite the fact that Joe Biden doesn’t support the Green New Deal, Biden’s climate plan recognizes that the Green New Deal provides a “crucial framework” for the climate issues we are facing. He plans for the US to accomplish net-zero emission and an entirely clean energy economy by 2050 through investing in clean energy and economic incentives. Biden’s plan also accounts for better infrastructure, global action, the disproportionate harms on communities of color and low-income communities, as well as worker and community contributions. His proposals are similar to the Green New Deal because it focuses on standards, investments and justice.
But the Biden plan is much more narrow than the Green New Deal, neglecting broader economic reforms like universal healthcare, as addressed in the Green New Deal. His plan also fails to ban fracking which is “a key step to protect against the economic losses from climate disruption” according to Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity. So in actuality, Biden’s climate plan really isn’t really that radical.
Additionally, Joe Biden actually has a decent record when it comes to climate change. He introduced the first climate change legislation into the Senate during the Reagan administration. His record is applauded by the League of Conservation Voters (LVC) who decided to endorse the candidate on April 20. The endorsement of a climate group like the LVC is not without meaning. This endorsement symbolizes that there is a candidate ready to take action on one of the most pressing issues facing Americans today.
Similarly, the Washington Post Editorial Board describes Joe Biden’s climate plan as “pretty good.” They argue that his climate policies compared to Trump’s earn Biden an “A-plus” because “Biden gets many things right.” Even though Biden’s climate plan isn’t the Green New Deal, it’s better than nothing. His plan enacts “mainstream and obvious” policies for a more environmentally conscious planet. When your choices are a candidate with an OK climate plan and one who has consistently rolled back environmental regulations that would help the US fight climate change, voting for the former makes more sense.
However, let’s still acknowledge that though Senator Harris enthusiastically reminded the public that she will not ban fracking, “fracking is bad, actually” according to congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez. His plan is not the best, but since climate change is the most pressing threat to our existence, a candidate willing to acknowledge its severity is our best option. It boils down to the fact that any policy is better than no policy. Action must be taken now — we can’t wait around for the perfect climate candidate.
Consequentially, voting for Joe Biden paves the way for the climate justice movement to progress and is crucial for the Green New Deal to succeed in the future. Senator Ed Markey, a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, recognizes this truth.
The movement for a Green New Deal is going to defeat Donald Trump and his fossil fuel cronies. We're going to elect Joe Biden and fight to pass the aggressive climate action which we need. We will work together to deliver a just and equitable future for all children.
— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) September 30, 2020
Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both co-sponsors of the Green New Deal, stand with Biden. We need to see the shift between a candidate who doesn’t even believe in climate change with one who has a fairly comprehensive plan opens room for collaborative discussions on the future of climate legislation.
In the end, we need to pay attention to climate policy because climate change affects everyone. You may not be happy with Biden as a candidate due to his more moderate views, or maybe he is too progressive on social issues for you, but there is only one presidential candidate working to address this looming threat to our existence. We need to vote for Joe Biden to combat climate change and lay the foundation for more progressive climate legislation in the future.