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Climate: 10 Million Clean Energy Jobs

Vice President Biden knows that our response to this climate emergency also presents an opportunity. More than three million people in the United States are already employed in the clean energy economy. But, that is only the beginning of what is possible if we harness all of our talent and creativity. If executed strategically, our response to climate change can create more than 10 million well-paying jobs in the United States that will grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class enjoyed by communities across the country, not just in cities along the coasts.

That’s why Joe Biden will make the largest investment in history in American innovation – including research and innovation to unlock and deploy new zero-carbon technologies for the future, create stable well-paying jobs across the U.S., and make zero-carbon technologies the most cost-effective and scalable way to meet our country’s energy needs.

And, Joe Biden will ensure that clean economy jobs are good jobs. We must ensure jobs created as part of the clean energy revolution offer good wages, benefits, and worker protections. Toward this end, President Biden will defend workers’ rights to form unions and collectively bargain in these emerging and growing industries; pursue new partnerships with community colleges, unions, and the private sector to develop programs to train all of America’s workforce to tap into the growing clean energy economy; incorporate skills training into infrastructure investment planning by engaging state and local communities; and reinvigorate and repurpose AmeriCorps for sustainability, so that every American can participate in the clean energy economy. These efforts will be worker-centered and driven in collaboration with the communities they will affect.

Unfortunately, today the Trump Administration is allowing America to fall behind in the clean energy race for the future. In 2017, China invested $3 in renewable energy for every $1 in America, giving China an edge on the technologies of tomorrow that will generate well-paying jobs. By 2030, the Biden Administration will put the United States back in the driver’s seat, making America the world’s leader in clean energy research, investment, commercialization, manufacturing, and exports.

Biden is committed to:

Make a historic investment in energy and climate research and innovation, as well as clean and resilient infrastructure and communities. Notwithstanding the progress we have made in reducing emissions in the power sector, fossil fuels still comprise nearly 80% of global energy use. There is much more work to be done to identify affordable solutions. Today, we are on the cusp of breakthroughs in technologies, such as batteries that can more efficiently store energy for use at moments of peak demand, more efficient controls and sensors for advanced manufacturing, more effective and thinner insulation for buildings, and cybersecurity improvements to make smart grids more resilient to attacks.

After World War II, public investment in research and collaboration between universities and the private sector spurred American innovation, led to rapid economic and job growth, and helped build a strong middle class. The Biden plan will double down on this approach to create the industries of the future by investing $400 billion over ten years. That’s twice the investment of the Apollo program which put a man on the moon, in today’s dollars. This investment will enable us to develop new technological break-throughs that will create jobs and drastically reduce emissions.

Bring together America’s top talent to innovate on climate. America – with the leadership of government – has led the way on many technologies and innovations, from the GPS to computer networking. Biden will establish ARPA-C, a new, cross-agency Advanced Research Projects Agency focused on climate. This initiative will target affordable, game-changing technologies to help America achieve our 100% clean energy target, with a specific focus on the following, as recommended by the founding director of ARPA-E:  

  • grid-scale storage at one-tenth the cost of lithium-ion batteries;
  • small modular nuclear reactors at half the construction cost of today’s reactors;
  • refrigeration and air conditioning using refrigerants with no global warming potential;
  • zero net energy buildings at zero net cost;
  • using renewables to produce carbon-free hydrogen at the same cost as that from shale gas;
  • decarbonizing industrial heat needed to make steel, concrete, and chemicals and reimagining carbon-neutral construction materials;
  • decarbonizing the food and agriculture sector, and leveraging agriculture to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground; and
  • capturing carbon dioxide from power plant exhausts followed by sequestering it deep underground or using it to make alternative products.

Accelerate the development and deployment of carbon capture sequestration technology. According to the Blue Green Alliance, “carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS) is a rapidly growing technology that has the potential to create economic benefits for multiple industries while significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions.” Biden shares the Carbon Capture Coalition’s goal “to make CCUS a widely available, cost-effective, and rapidly scalable solution to reduce carbon emissions to meet mid-century climate goals.” Toward this end, he will double down on federal investments and enhance tax incentives for CCUS. At the same time, to bring new carbon capture technologies to market, Biden will continue to fund carbon capture research, development, and demonstration.

Identify the future of nuclear energy. To address the climate emergency threatening our communities, economy, and national security, we must look at all low- and zero-carbon technologies. That’s why Biden will support a research agenda through to look at issues, ranging from cost to safety to waste disposal systems, that remain an ongoing challenge with nuclear power today.

Pursue strong new measures to stop other countries from cheating on their climate commitments. We can no longer separate trade policy from our climate objectives. Biden will not allow other nations, including China, to game the system by becoming destination economies for polluters, undermining our climate efforts and exploiting American workers and businesses. As the U.S. takes steps to make domestic polluters bear the full cost of their carbon pollution, the Biden Administration will impose carbon tariffs, fees, or quotas on carbon-intensive goods from countries that are failing to meet their climate and environmental obligations. This will ensure that American workers and their employers are not at a competitive disadvantage and simultaneously encourage other nations to raise their climate ambitions. Biden will also condition future trade agreements on partners’ commitments to meet their enhanced Paris climate targets.

Create a Clean Energy Export and Climate Investment Initiative. This is also a moment of opportunity for American innovation. We can be the world’s clean energy superpower. Biden will establish a new government-wide effort to promote American clean energy exports and investments around the world to advance climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. The initiative will offer incentives for U.S. firms that supply low-carbon solutions to the international market in order to spur U.S. industry, jobs, and competitiveness, and make America the world leader in clean energy technologies. It will prioritize partnerships with countries that make high climate ambition commitments under Paris and provide low-cost financing to these countries for American clean energy exports. An initial focus will be small island states in the Pacific and Caribbean that are demonstrating climate leadership in the face of existential threats to their territorial homelands.

Enact a national strategy to develop a low-carbon manufacturing sector in every state, accelerating cutting-edge technologies and ensuring businesses and workers have access to new technologies and skills, with a major focus on helping small and large manufacturers upgrade their capabilities to have both competitive and low-carbon futures. The strategy will connect research universities, community colleges, incubators and accelerators, manufacturing institutes and employers, unions, and state and local governments – alone or as part of a regional pact – and provide them with significant funding for deployment of a place-based plan to help their state or region build a competitive and low-carbon future in manufacturing that reflects climate impacts in their local communities. Industries from textiles to machine tools to metal fabrication to the most advanced manufacturing technologies will be eligible for funding to modernize, compete, create jobs, and move to clean energy futures. Allocated tax credits and subsidies will be available for businesses to upgrade equipment and processes, invest in expanded or new factories, and deploy low-carbon technologies, as long as all stakeholders are part of the process of determining a bottom-line win for jobs, workers, clean energy, and long-term community investment. Where states feel competitive pressures or requirements in response to the climate emergency may threaten a local economy, President Biden’s national strategy will fund efforts to move to a more competitive or low-carbon manufacturing approach that can preemptively develop new economic strategies, including deployment of federal funding for technologies or manufacturing innovation centers.

Hold polluters accountable. Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has referred the fewest number of criminal anti-pollution cases to the Justice Department in 30 years. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. Biden will direct his EPA and Justice Department to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation as needed to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time where merited.

BIDEN’S PLAN WILL FULFILL OUR OBLIGATION TO WORKERS AND COMMUNITIES WHO POWERED OUR INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND DECADES OF ECONOMIC GROWTH

Biden will commit our country to fulfilling our obligation to all workers impacted by the energy transition, like coal miners and power plant workers and their communities. Coal miners and power plant workers took on dangerous jobs to power our industrial revolution and the decades of subsequent economic growth. As economic trends continue to shift our country away from coal as an energy source, we have an obligation to help these workers and their communities succeed.

President Biden will:

Secure the benefits coal miners and their families have earned. As marketplace competition continues to shift the country away from coal-fired electricity, we have an obligation to these workers who’ve worked hard and sacrificed for the rest of us. Biden will make sure coal miners and their families receive not only the respect they deserve but also the pensions and health benefits they have been promised. Congress should do the right thing and pass legislation now to protect the retirement benefits owed to miners, their dependents, and their widows. But if Congress doesn’t act before Biden takes office, he will make sure we fulfill this obligation. And, Biden will increase coal companies’ payments into the black lung benefits program, reform the black lung benefits system so it is no longer rigged in favor of coal companies who can hire lawyers and doctors to ensure miners’ benefits are denied, expand efforts to help miners detect black lung cases earlier and access care, and enforce regulations to reduce cases of black lung in the first place.

Invest in coal and power plant communities and other communities impacted by the climate transformation. Each of these communities are necessary. We can’t write them off or act like they don’t matter. Each has assets that can be leveraged to diversify their economies, create good, middle class jobs, and help the country get stronger – assets like a rich culture, natural beauty, a proven workforce, and entrepreneurial spirit. The federal government should be a partner to help these communities capitalize on these strengths and build vibrant communities where good jobs are available and young people want to stay or return home. To support coal and power plant workers and their communities, President Biden will make an unprecedented investment building upon the vision put forward in the Obama-Biden Administration’s Power+ Plan. And, he’ll establish a Task Force on Coal and Power Plant Communities, as the Obama-Biden Administration did for Detroit when the auto industry was in turmoil. For example, the Task Force will help these communities access federal investments and leverage private sector investments to help create high-paying union jobs based upon the unique assets of each community, partner with unions and community colleges to create training opportunities for these new jobs, repair infrastructure, keep public employees like firefighters and teachers on the payroll, and keep local hospitals open.

Read Joe Biden’s full plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice at joebiden.com/climate