Illustration for article titled Bernie Sanders Introduces Characteristically Bold Climate Plan to Overlap With Paris Talks

Days after democratic members of Congress descended on COP21—now entering its crucial final phase—to try and undo the rhetorical damage of their dipshit Republican colleagues, Bernie Sanders has introduced an extensive climate plan taking aim at the “billionaire fossil fuel lobby.”


On the website introducing his plan, Sanders puts a welcome Sanders-ian spin on climate action:

The scientists are virtually unanimous that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world. And, they tell us, if we do not act boldly the situation will only become much worse in years to come in terms of drought, floods, extreme storms and acidification of the oceans. Sadly, we now have a Republican Party that is more concerned about protecting the profits of Exxon, BP and Shell and the coal industry than protecting the planet. While fossil fuel companies are raking in record profits, climate change ravages our planet and our people – all because the wealthiest industry in the history of our planet has bribed politicians into ignoring science.


Sanders’ plan, which the Washington Post notes “reads like an environmentalist’s wish list,” includes a pledge to cut emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, which would be achieved through a carbon tax—something that Congress has repeatedly blocked over the years, but which the global economy (including some oil companies) is beginning to align toward.

Sanders would also, among other things, repeal fossil fuel industry subsidies, ban fossil fuel lobbyists from the White House, ban offshore drilling, ban fracking, invest heavily in clean energy sources like wind and solar, and dedicate funding toward a clean energy workforce of 10 million jobs. However, the Huffington Post points out:

Unlike Sanders, Clinton’s proposal laid out a specific target to have every U.S. home powered by renewable energy by 2027, and a $30 billion blueprint to help coal communities shift to cleaner energy.

Sanders didn’t include a price tag for his plan to help workers in the middle of the shifting energy landscape, and aid for communities that are fighting drought, rising sea levels and other climate change side effects.

Unlike Clinton, though, Sanders has proposed to ban future fossil fuel development on federal lands, Arctic drilling, oil and liquefied natural gas exports, mountaintop mining, and pipelines similar to the Keystone XL, which Clinton was notoriously slow to reject.

Bill McKibbon, co-founder of, told MSNBC of the plan: “Even more important than the plan is the credibility of the planner. Bernie has shown with years of committed action that he will not just talk about this stuff on the campaign trail, he will do it in the Oval Office.”


Both Sanders and Clinton have dramatically upped their environmental game since third-place contender Martin O’Malley unveiled his own aggressive climate plan in July, and now all three candidates are promising more ambitious action than Obama—which is not particularly surprising, since presidential candidates don’t have to negotiate with a Republican-led Congress.

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Image via Getty.

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