By John Muyskens and Juliet Eilperin
This month the Democratic presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden, outlined an ambitious plan for tackling climate change that shows how far the party has shifted on the issue since it controlled the White House.
President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan had called for the electricity sector to cut its carbon pollution 32 percent by 2030, and did not lay out a trajectory for phasing out oil, coal or natural gas production.
This year, Democratic 2020 hopefuls such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) went much further, suggesting the United States should derive all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 as part of a $16.3 trillion plan to wean the nation away from fossil fuels. Many other congressional Democrats have embraced the Green New Deal — the nonbinding resolution calling for a carbon-free power sector by 2030 and more energy efficient buildings and vehicles, along with a massive investment in electric vehicles and high-speed rail. Last year, 38 percent of U.S. electricity generated came from clean sources, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“A great appeal of the Biden proposal is that it is much closer to targeting carbon directly, which is the ultimate enemy, and plays fewer favorites with particular technologies,” said Michael Greenstone, who directs the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute. “This will reduce the costs to consumers and give more carbon bang for the buck.”