When Joe Biden released his climate plan last week, the Democratic candidate for president emphasized one overarching goal—and it wasn’t the reduction of greenhouse gases. Instead, he unequivocally linked broad climate action to employment. “When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax,’” Biden said in a speech unveiling the plan. “When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs.’” His proposal aims to create 1 million openings in the auto sector, in part by investing in electric vehicle charging, plus another 1 million positions retrofitting homes for energy efficiency and weather resilience. The word “union” appears 32 times in the plan’s 15-page outline.
A campaign promise is not policy, but the rhetoric and substance of Biden’s proposal represented two noteworthy developments. As a candidate, he’s signaling a bigger commitment to addressing climate change through policies targeting racial and economic inequality. At the same time, Biden is moving away from the discussion of climate change as a purely scientific problem.
The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led progressive climate group, took credit for the former part of the plan on Twitter. “Before the #GreenNewDeal, @TheDemocrats tip-toed around the climate crisis, buying into the GOP lie that we had to choose between good jobs & our environment,” the organization posted. “Now, everyone knows that acting on climate change is the biggest jobs & economic opportunity in history. We did that.”