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Beto O’Rourke has his own Green New Deal, but is it aggressive enough?

Beto O’Rourke has his own Green New Deal, but is it aggressive enough?
[Photo: Erik Drost/Wikimedia Commons]

While the Democratic primary and the 2020 presidential election are both still a ways off, thanks to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) example, more Democratic contenders are laying out actual policy proposals. Warren has already unveiled detailed plans for universal childcare and student loan forgiveness, among other things.

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Now former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke has announced a highly detailed plan to combat climate change.

In light of what O’Rourke calls the “greatest threat we face,” the ambitious $5 trillion climate change proposal details a series of steps, including remaining in the Paris Agreement, new investment, legislation, and tougher rules on power plants and cars with the aim of cutting the country’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

O’Rourke says if he is elected president, the first bill he sends to Congress would “launch a 10-year mobilization of $5 trillion directly leveraged by a fully paid-for $1.5 trillion investment,” funded with revenues from tax incentives and code changes that would “ensure corporations and the wealthiest among us pay their fair share.” The plan also includes measure for fast-tracking zero-carbon technologies and new R&D investment in emissions-cutting technology.

By putting his climate change policy on paper, O’Rourke seems to be angling for the younger and more progressive voters who might otherwise go for greener Democrats like Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) or Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA), both of whom have made climate change central points of their campaigns.

However, O’Rourke’s plan may not be aggressive enough to compete, according to the climate activists at Sunrise Movement. On Twitter, the group notes that O’Rourke’s plan is “out of line with the timeline,” as he himself has pointed to the vital importance of getting to net-zero emissions by 2030. His new policy targets zero-emissions by 2050, which one activist sums up as “too little too late.”

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