Biden announces $2 trillion plan to curb climate change

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Hunter Berube

Suffolk Climate Watch graphic

A $2 trillion plan announced by the Biden administration on March 31 aims to combat climate change through new environmentally-minded jobs, along with creating cars, energy and other technology in a more eco-conscious way. 

The American Jobs Plan offers quite a few new job opportunities and goals to curb climate change. 

According to a statement from the White House, Biden looks to spend $174 billion in electric vehicle investments, $45 billion to remove lead pipes, $100 billion for the electric grid and clean energy, $10 billion for a Civilian Climate Corps and $180 billion for research and development, with $50 billion for the National Science Foundation and $35 billion investment in technology that address climate change and its effects in this decade. 

This breakdown of $509 billion — the spending related directly to climate policy — is helpful for policymakers to conceptualize exactly how taxpayers’ money would be spent, and how it would benefit not only the climate but also the American infrastructure.

While other items in the outline don’t mention it explicitly, the other proposals like building schools that have power sources and are energy efficient as well as improving standards in manufacturing would also follow clean energy and low carbon guideline, according to Time magazine

A key component to curbing climate change that Biden has mentioned before, but is missing from this plan, is carbon pricing. 

Carbon pricing assigns a dollar value to each ton of carbon emissions. In order to make it a more feasible reality, the starting plan for a carbon tax would be just for corporations and households unaffected by tax increase protections. The Obama administration was the first to assign these numbers to try to mitigate the detrimental effects of greenhouse gases on many communities where factories are located. By only taxing corporations, the government would refrain from placing more economic strain on those who are already struggling. 

However, Inside Climate News reported that the primary focus at this point is to create more regulations and investment in research and deployment of policies to quicken the transition away from energy that releases greenhouse gases. The organization also reported that the Biden administration has deemed carbon pricing necessary, but it would ultimately be more effective, to begin with, other mandates to incentivize moving away from climate-warming emissions. 

The administration had increased the price of carbon by $8 per ton during Trump’s administration to $51 per ton since Donald Trump left office. However, a report from Politico shows that the administration may need to raise that figure even higher, as the petroleum industry continues to thrive while producing tons of greenhouse gases for undercut pricing.  

The new infrastructure plan has a good foundation for creating a baseline for limiting future greenhouse gas emissions. According to White House officials like Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, economists and climate researchers, including a figure on the social cost of carbon in future renditions of a climate policy would be more accepted by corporations and policymakers as they become more used to climate friendly policies.