Both Democratic candidates for United States President support the Green New Deal – what does that mean for their plans to address climate change and make it possible for more people to drive an electric vehicle?
As we continue to emit ever-increasing amounts of greenhouse gases year after year, voters in the U.S. are becoming more concerned about climate change. According to 2019 surveys, 57% of Americans consider climate change a major threat to the country’s well-being, up almost 20 points since 2013. 84% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents and just over one-quarter of Republicans think climate change is a major threat to the country’s well-being.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a demystifying special report in 2018 with a clear message: we must act quickly to avoid the most catastrophic effects. And while President Obama and other world leaders had made a significant (albeit insufficient) step by signing the Paris Agreement in 2016 – ironically, the agreement entered into force just 4 days before then-candidate Trump was elected – President Trump will have effectively removed the U.S. from the agreement by November of 2020, just in time for the next presidential election.
This brings us to Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. As two of the three remaining Democratic candidates (Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign continues with a mere 2 delegates), Sanders and Biden will face increasing pressure to provide a clear plan of action on climate change. Let’s see how they compare.
Comparing the candidates’ plans for vehicle electrification
How Do The Candidates Stand?
Transportation decarbonization commitments
Work with schools, transit agencies, cities, states, and private companies to establish standards for auto manufacturing to be 100 percent sustainable by 2030
Plans for electric vehicle charging infrastructure
$85.6 billion building a national, interoperable electric vehicle charging infrastructure network
Support the deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030.
Plans to decrease the cost to consumers of new electric vehicles
Yes, with $100 billion to decrease the cost of a new electric vehicle to at most $18,000
Yes, with the federal EV tax credit
Plans to decarbonize aviation and shipping
$150 billion effort to fully decarbonize aviation and maritime shipping and transportation
Pursue measures to incentivize the creation of new, sustainable fuels for aircraft, as well as other changes to aircraft technology and standards
Grants to purchase a new EV
$2.09 trillion in grants to low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to trade in their fossil fuel-dependent vehicles for new electric vehicles
Plans to electrify and expand school & transit buses and public transportation
Plans to electrify freight trucks
$216 billion to replace all diesel tractor-trailer trucks with fast-charging and long-range electric trucks.
Make annual improvements for heavy-duty vehicles
Comparing the candidates’ plans to address climate change
How Do The Candidates Stand?
Plans to reach 100% renewable energy
2050 - 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions
Number of Green New Deal jobs pledged
Public investment to reach decarbonization goals
$1.7 trillion over the next ten years, leveraging additional private sector and state and local investments to total to more than $5 trillion
Plans to curb emissions domestically
Who pays for the decarbonization plan?
Modify royalties on carbon to account for climate costs
Plans for advanced energy technologies and innovations?
$30 billion StorageShot initiative to decrease the cost of energy storage
Plans and investments in energy efficiency
Plans for land-use and farming changes to decarbonize
Plans to help reduce emissions throughout the world
End fossil fuel financing?
Yes, including investments through the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, OPIC, the Export-Import Bank, and other multilateral institutions
Yes, ensure the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the Export-Import Bank, and the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation significantly reduce the carbon footprints of their portfolios. For example, these agencies will be prohibited from any financing for coal-fired power plants so that U.S. finance is no longer a dirtier alternative to the World Bank
Impacts on the fossil fuel industry from decarbonization
Special funds or proposals to support and prepare disadvantaged frontline communities for the effects of climate change
Climate Justice Resiliency Fund - $40 billion to:
Ensure that communities harmed by climate change and pollution are the first to benefit from the Clean Economy Revolution. Currently, low-income communities and communities of color don’t equally share in the benefits of well-paying job opportunities that result from our clean energy economy
Plans to support workers displaced by the decline of the fossil fuel industry
Plans for climate change resiliency
What’s The Verdict?
The most striking difference between the two plans is that Sanders is aiming for 100% renewable energy by 2030 while Biden has a goal of 2050. Additionally, Sanders plans to invest 10 times more public dollars – at $16.3 trillion – to decarbonize the U.S. economy.
In terms of vehicle electrification, Sanders has a clearer vision with the goal of full electrification by 2030 by investing large amounts in charging infrastructure and lowering the cost of new EVs. Biden, on the other hand, has centered his vehicle electrification plan around the federal EV tax credit and building 500,000 new public charging stations by 2030.
The Trump Administration has acted decisively to cut environmental regulations, deny climate change, and reduce emissions standards. A President Sanders or President Biden would offer strikingly different rhetoric, leadership, and policy on climate change and electric vehicles than Trump. If Democrats manage to win in November – regardless of whether it’s Sanders or Biden – the federal government will rely heavily on partnerships and innovations from state and local governments, OEMs, electric utilities, and charging network service providers to reach its decarbonization and vehicle transportation goals.