Eight million jobs, $9tn in spending: Jay Inslee’s radical plan to tackle climate change

jay inslee’s climate change plan echoes progressives’ green new deal
Jay Inslee’s climate change plan echoes progressives’ Green New Deal, but with far more details and fewer commitments to social programs. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

The Washington governor and Democratic 2020 hopeful wants to decarbonize the economy while boosting employment

— Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, is introducing a second portion of his climate change plan as most Democratic contenders for president have yet to officially roll out their own big-picture proposals.

Inslee’s 38-page document is focused on creating jobs. It outlines a $9tn investment over 10 years and seeks to create 8m jobs aimed at decarbonizing the economy. In an earlier plan, he vowed to make the US carbon neutral by 2045.

Inslee wants to upgrade buildings, replace water and transit infrastructure, clean up manufacturing and quintuple spending on clean energy and climate research. Many of those efforts would require congressional legislation.

The blueprint echoes progressives’ Green New Deal, but with far more details and fewer commitments to social programs.

Inslee told the Guardian: “You think of the Green New Deal as saying, ‘We should go to the moon’ – but in my plan is how to build the rocket ship. They both have their value.” He suggested other candidates might not have the “spine” to take the bold action needed.

The first paragraphs of his plan evoke the New Deal, noting that Franklin Delano Roosevelt laid out the details of that program 86 years ago this month.

Inslee quoted Roosevelt and said: “We are working toward a definite goal, which is to prevent the return of conditions which came very close to destroying what we call modern civilization.”

He added, in his own words: “Today, America faces a new threat to our modern civilization: climate change. This challenge also presents an unprecedented economic opportunity, to lead the world in building a clean energy future.”

The campaign so far has focused mostly on climate change, but Inslee insists he is not a one-issue candidate.

“This is not a single issue, it’s all the issues,” he said, adding that rising temperatures and extreme weather threaten the economy, public health and national security. He said his jobs plan could also fix wage stagnation.

Other candidates have endorsed specific policies in the past or discussed narrower proposals they would support.

The former vice-president Joe Biden has come under criticism after an adviser suggested he would take a “middle ground” approach to tackling climate change, allowing the continued use of natural gas, which warms the planet. Biden has since defended his record and said his plan will come out soon.

Another expected frontrunner, the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, has heralded the Green New Deal, including at a Washington DC event this week with the youth-led Sunrise Movement and the New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Sanders has previously drafted ambitious climate plans but has not expanded on them this election season.

“You know and I know that the scientific community has been very clear,” Sanders said at the event. “If we do not act boldly and aggressively to transform our global energy system away from fossil fuels within the next few years – a very short period of time – there will be irreparable harm done to our planet.”

Sanders said the US must lead the world with an approach emphasizing the Green New Deal, but he did not elaborate.

The Green New Deal advocates a “10-year mobilization” to reduce emissions but does not specify an end date to make the country carbon-neutral.

The Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren this week called for the military to help fight climate change. Warren also advocates for banning new fossil fuel drilling and mining on public lands.

by Emily Holden | The Guardian



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