What does voter turnout look like in this election?

You care about climate change. Tomorrow is Election Day. Maybe you haven’t voted yet. Maybe you aren’t even sure if you’ll vote.

Well, this election seems like a good time to commit to voting reliably — hundreds of thousands of people who didn’t vote last time around have already voted early in the 2020 election. Among people who voted for a third-party candidate in 2016, a vast majority say they will vote for one of the two main candidates this time: showing a growing sense of engagement and practicality.

After all, either Joe Biden or Donald Trump will be the next US President, and who it is will be decided by the people who show up to vote. Even if you dislike both, even if you dislike the whole political system, it still makes sense to vote for whoever you have a slight preference for — because that can materially affect people’s lives. …

Election Day is next week, and voting is already underway in most places. As we reach the end of our first phase of Picturing Policy, in which we’ve focused on the currently-timely Biden clean energy plan and what it would look like for people’s lives, we thought we’d sum it all up. Feel free to share these graphics around with anyone looking for some excitement ahead of the election!

Implementing Biden’s clean energy plan would look like a massive US manufacturing boom.

It would catalyze a fast scale-up in US electric vehicle manufacturing.

It would give marginalized communities a seat at the table to ensure environmental justice. …

Are you in need of a job? The Biden clean energy plan will create a lot of opportunities.

With millions of people out of work, now seems like a good time to create millions of jobs. But clean energy jobs won’t only benefit people who lost jobs because of the pandemic. …

The main idea Biden’s climate plan brings for farmers is “new income streams.” That means helping farmers diversify their sources of income and make both their income and crops more resilient in the face of changing economies and a changing climate.

The Biden plan proposes several major initiatives: one is low-interest financing to help farmers adopt new equipment or farming practices; another is voluntary carbon markets that pay farmers for sequestering CO2 on their land or reducing their CO2, nitrous oxide, or methane emissions — which they can do with new equipment and practices that become affordable with the low-interest financing. …

How would Biden’s clean energy plan affect fossil fuel workers?

A common talking point against climate action is that it would reduce fossil fuel jobs — which of course is true. As we move to a 100% clean economy, fossil fuel use will almost disappear, and any climate policy needs to consider how to protect the livelihoods of fossil fuel workers.

How many jobs are we talking about? There are about 1.2 million fossil fuel jobs in the US right now.

That’s about the number of jobs that Biden’s building retrofit program would create in the next 4 years.

Or the number of jobs the plan estimates will be created in manufacturing and deploying the country’s new electricity generation infrastructure. …

The western US has been choked with smoke from massive forest fires this month. These intense fires are more likely because of climate change. That will remain true for decades even if we swiftly eliminate emissions — it will take time for climate systems to go back to normal.

But these fires are also more intense because of human mismanagement of forests. After years of suppressing natural fires, forests have an unnaturally large amount of dry underbrush. So when fires do happen, they can become much larger and hotter than they would naturally be. Everyone from firefighters to forest ecology professors will say that we should be spending far more on prevention of intense fires so that we don’t need to spend as much on firefighting and damage repair. …

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Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color have suffered disproportionately from pollution for decades. What would the Biden clean energy plan look like for those communities?

Right now, dirty power plants and polluting factories have been placed in and near low-income, often majority nonwhite, neighborhoods and towns — away from richer neighborhoods. The extra air pollution inhaled by these communities leads to worse overall health and greater stress, and recently has even been tied to higher risk for serious cases of COVID-19.

The Biden clean energy plan would replace those dirty power plants and factories (or the equipment inside them) with clean options that would eliminate air pollution from those facilities. That would bring clean air to communities that have long suffered from environmental injustice, improving people’s health and lifelong wellbeing. …

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Biden has proposed a large public procurement of clean vehicles. What would that look like, for climate solutions and for your life?

In Joe Biden’s clean energy plan, he suggests a project in which the federal government would not only purchase clean vehicles for its own fleets, including the postal service, but would also help state, tribal, and local governments buy clean vehicles for their own fleets. All together, these fleets include 3 million vehicles that need to be replaced with clean vehicles.

By using large-scale public procurement, Biden’s plan would create a significant early market for clean vehicles. This is important, because clean vehicle manufacturing still needs to scale up a lot: think of how many gasoline cars we’ve ever manufactured vs how many electric cars we’ve ever manufactured. …

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The plan has three parts: a program with a dedicated workforce to upgrade 4 million commercial or public buildings to electric and efficient equipment; rebates and low-interest financing for individual families to do the same for their own homes; and an expanded program to weatherize 2 million family homes, with a focus on low-income housing. All of this will be carried out over only 4 years.

Electric, efficient equipment and weatherization means lower heating bills for families and businesses. And manufacturing and installing all that equipment is estimated to create 1 million jobs.

Right now so many institutional buildings are closed, and so many people are in need of work, so it’s a good moment for a massive building retrofit project. This plan can help kickstart the economic recovery we need. …

The core of Biden’s climate plan is to “rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.” What would that look like, for climate solutions and for your life?

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Replacing infrastructure is exactly what’s needed to solve climate change. Emissions come from power plants, car engines, building furnaces, cement kilns, and farm processes for example. In the short time we have to totally eliminate emissions, we can’t totally eliminate transportation, heating, building, food, and electricity. We need to replace the equipment in those systems with clean equipment that enables the same activities in our lives but without emissions.

Rebuilding America’s infrastructure would mean renovating homes to reduce heating bills and improve indoor air quality; constructing new power plants and factories based on clean technologies; deploying charging stations for electric vehicles; etc. …

About

Solomon Goldstein-Rose

Climate Change activist since age 11. Author of The 100% Solution: A Plan for Solving Climate Change. SolomonGR.com. Former youngest MA legislator. He/him.

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