Where does Bernie Sanders stand on the 3 emergencies facing us today and the 2 solutions we must implement?
Bernie has taken a very strong lead on the climate crisis, personally declaring the climate crisis a “national emergency” and proposing the most comprehensive platform by far for addressing carbon emissions within the next 10 years. Climate Grade: A
Bernie Sanders takes inequality very seriously and his campaign is largely focused on policies aimed at reducing inequality, raising standards for the poor and working class, improving public services, creating jobs and bringing utilities back into public ownership where the benefits can be shared among all instead of among a few wealthy shareholders. Inequality Grade: A
In terms of nuclear weapons, Bernie scores a C while most other candidates get an F for their total failure to adequately address this issue. Bernie is the only candidate so far who has challenged the very idea of a President ever launching nuclear weapons. He has explicitly called for their total elimination. And he has proposed that the trillions of dollars being spent on weapons of (mass) destruction should instead be used to address the ‘common enemy’ of climate change. But he has not yet endorsed the Nuclear Ban Treaty or made any concrete proposals for how to eliminate these weapons. Nuclear Weapons Grade: C
1. Declare that the fossil fuel age is over – 5
Bernie has been very outspoken on the need to transition away from fossil fuels and to hold the fossil fuel companies accountable for withholding information and misleading the public about climate change. He is calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, a ban on fracking and off-shore drilling, an end to all pipeline permits and to the import and export of fossil fuels, divestment of public funds from the fossil fuel industry and making them pay for damages caused by their inaction on climate change.
fossil-free electricity by 2030 – 5
Bernie’s Green New Deal would use publicly owned power companies to produce 100% renewable electricity by 2030. This would involve an investment of $1.5 trillion in solar and wind construction, $850 billion in developing electricity storage capacity and another $500 billion for a new “smart grid” to distribute the electricity more efficiently throughout the country. This money would be recouped within 15 years from revenues generated by the sale of the electricity, since electricity bills would be paid directly to the government.
the sale of all non-electric vehicles by 2030 – 5
Bernie’s plan would require all cars sold in the US to be fossil-free by 2030 and provide $2 trillion in grants to enable people to purchase a new EV. A further $680 billion would fund a vehicle trade-in program to get old gasoline cars off the road, $85 billion for a national EV charging infrastructure, $400 billion in grants to make all school and transit buses electric and $200 billion to help transition all trucking to long-range EV trucks. Funding for these programs would come from taxes and fees on the fossil fuel industry and on those who have unfairly benefited from inaction and neglect in the face of climate change.
Phase out all HFCs by 2030 – 3
Bernie calls for strict regulations to reduce HFC emissions and aggressive enforcement of the regulations by the EPA. He makes no mention in his materials of the Kigali Amendment, an international agreement to drastically curtail these gases, nor of the need to strengthen this agreement to ban HFCs completely by 2030. Nor does he specifically refer to the need for investing in research and development of safe and suitable replacements for these gases, especially in air conditioners and heat pumps, where demand will be increasing significantly as we move to a fossil-free economy.
5. New buildings fossil-free by 2025 – 4
Bernie’s plan calls for DOE regulations that would “ensure that all new construction…met our electrification goals” but it does not specify a date by when all new construction would have to comply with these regulations.
6. Plant 10 billion trees by 2030 – 3
Bernie’s plan includes $170 billion for reinstating the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC. The CCC staff would be used to plant “billions” of trees across the country, as well as to help restore wetlands and improve the capacity of the land to sequester carbon and clean up pollution. No timetable or specific numbers are given, and the cost of meeting the target is likely to be close to double what has been budgeted so far.
7. Re-negotiate Paris Agreement – 5
Bernie is way out front in terms of calling for all the major countries to come together and commit to stronger targets than were agreed at Paris in 2015. He promises to invest $200 billion in helping countries of the Global South to meet their carbon emissions targets, and has invited China, Russia, India and the other major carbon emitters to come together and use the trillions of dollars being spent on weapons targeting each other to instead confront “our shared enemy: climate change.”
1. Extreme wealth tax – 5
Bernie’s plans call for a tax on the wealth of the top 0.1% of households, who have a net worth of $32 million or more. This tax would raise $4.35 trillion in revenues to pay for other programs designed to raise up the living standards of the poorest and level the playing field for all. His plans also include strong enforcement measures to ensure the tax is paid and that wealth is not expatriated abroad to avoid paying the tax.
2. Free, universal access to services – 5
Many of Bernie’s other signature programs, such as Medicare for All, free college tuition, ending student debt, free school meals, universal access to childcare, etc are designed to radically address poverty and inequality in this country.
3. Create millions of decent, well-paid jobs – 5
Bernie’s Green New Deal would create 20 million well-paid union jobs with good working conditions, in steel and auto manufacturing, construction, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, engineering and forestry. These jobs would be directly created by the federal programs listed above. Additional jobs would be expected to follow in their wake as the Green economy grows and expands.
4. Job guarantee and re-training – 5
Bernie’s Green New Deal commits $1.3 trillion, raised from the income tax revenues generated by 20 million new jobs, to ensure every displaced worker is guaranteed a new job with equivalent wages and benefits, plus help with re-training, re-location and/or early retirement as needed. The plan also provides employers with tax incentives to hire displaced workers.
5. Subsidize transition to fossil-free economy – 5
In addition to providing $2 trillion in grants to enable low and middle-income families to purchase a new EV and a further $680 billion trade-in program to get old gasoline cars off the road, Bernie’s plan includes $100 billion in research to drastically bring down the cost of purchasing an EV. Bernie also plans to invest nearly $1 trillion in the electrification of homes and businesses. It would be used to provide sliding-scale grants to low and moderate-income families and small businesses to enable them to improve energy efficiency and move to fully electric heating and cooking.
6. Targeted economic development – 5
Bernie puts a strong emphasis on support for “frontline communities,” particularly communities of color, who have already borne the brunt of climate disruption and environmental degradation. $130 billion will go towards re-building affected communities, another $6 billion into regional development, $41 billion for black and socially disadvantaged farmers, $25 billion into home energy assistance for low-income housing and more than $500 billion to ensure that people are fed, including free school meals for 50 million school children across the country.
7. Commit 0.7% of GDP to fund Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 – 3
Bernie’s Green New Deal includes an investment of $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund for “equitable transfer” of renewable technologies to less industrialized nations. He calls for US leadership to ensure the developing world reduces poverty and improves living standards as it moves to a renewable economy. He has called elsewhere for restoring aid to Latin American countries and working to improve conditions for those who are otherwise fleeing their homes to come to the United States. This so far still falls far short of the levels of commitment needed to radically address poverty and inequality across the globe, which would require an investment from the US of at least $140 billion each year for the next 10 years.
1. Renounce pressing the button – 4
Bernie is the only candidate for President who has refused, when asked, to say he would press the proverbial nuclear button. This should be taken as a serious commitment to move decisively away from the doctrine of so-called nuclear “deterrence” – which bases the nation’s defence strategy on the threat to annihilate whole populations and potentially the whole human race.
2. Affirm existing disarm obligations – 3
Bernie has clearly stated that he wants to “get rid” of nuclear weapons, which is in line with the US’s existing legal obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). No other presidential candidate has so far re-affirmed that commitment.
3. Stop funding nuclear weapons – 3
While many of his colleagues in the Senate have tried to block funding for new nuclear weapons programs, Bernie has repeatedly opposed all military spending bills that divert money urgently needed for addressing climate and other pressing needs to instead pay for endless wars and unnecessary weapons systems.
Sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty – 1
Bernie has called for the US to join with Russia, China and the other major powers to stop spending trillions of dollars on weapons of (mass) destruction and instead to use that money to address the ‘common enemy’ of climate change. But he has not yet shown any interest in signing the Nuclear Ban Treaty.
5. Remove from operational status – 0
Bernie has not made any moves to discuss how the world could be made safer from the threat of nuclear weapons by removing them from operational status, where they cannot so easily be launched by mistake and as a result of miscalculation or misunderstanding, as China, India, Pakistan and Israel have done.
6. Negotiate timetable to disarm – 0
No mention of the need to begin thinking about a timetable to get rid of our own nuclear weapons along with those of the other nuclear armed nations.
7. Dismantle weapons by 2030 – 0
No discussion of this deadline, or any deadline, as yet.