U.S. Senate Democrats unveil $400 billion-a-year plan to tackle climate change

Source: By Nichola Groom, Reuters • Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2020

(Reuters) – Senate Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a plan to tackle climate change that calls for the U.S. government to spend more than $400 billion a year to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The plan is the latest in a series of blueprints from Democrats detailing how the United States can combat global warming. None are likely to proceed in the current Republican-controlled Senate but could get traction if the chamber flips to Democratic control after November’s election.

“When Democrats retake the majority in the Senate we will be united to move swiftly,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on a call with reporters. “Passing climate legislation will be a top priority.”

Spokespeople for the Senate’s Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The plan would aim to create at least 10 million jobs in areas like clean energy manufacturing and research and development for new technologies, the 260-page report by the Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis said.

The Trump administration has downplayed the risks of climate change and cut regulations on fossil fuels industries. The plan offered by Senate Democrats also calls for reforming lobbying laws to reduce the influence of those industries.

Some environmental groups said the plan did not go far enough and called for elimination of subsidies for oil and gas companies.

“Senate Democrats talk a good talk when it comes to environmental justice, labor rights, and the climate crisis, but this report does not walk the walk,” Charlie Jiang, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace USA, said in a statement.

The report said the price tag, equal to about 2% of U.S. gross domestic product, is justified by the urgency of the crisis and the far more expensive economic disruption caused by changing temperatures. At least 40% of the benefits from the climate spending would benefit low-income communities.

Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by David Gregorio and Bill Berkrot