Julián Castro Is Rolling Out A $10 Trillion Plan To Fight Climate Change
Ahead of CNN’s Climate Crisis Town Hall on Wednesday in New York, Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro released his own version of the Green New Deal called the “People and Planet First Plan.” The former San Antonio Mayor is planning to “direct $10 trillion in federal, state, local, and private investments” over the next decade that his campaign estimates will create 10 million jobs over the next 10 years.
“People do not live their lives in silos and so our plan is intersectional,” Castro said in his proposal. “We will build a 100 percent clean energy economy that both combats the climate crisis and tackles structural inequality.”
Here is what you need to know about Castro’s ambitious environmental policy plan.
At the core of Castro’s environmental policy is combating and reducing greenhouse gas emissions until the U.S. achieves net-zero emissions by 2045 at the latest. Castro also says that his first executive action if elected will be to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement that President Trump withdrew from in 2017. Over the course of the next decade, Castro is also calling for the reduction of carbon emissions by moving from fossil fuels to clean energy.
“Right now, the climate crisis is already devastating our communities, our homes, and our families,” Castro said in his policy proposal. “Severe storms, deadly hurricanes, massive floods, extreme droughts, and wildfires are now a normal occurrence, destroying homes and businesses, and shrinking our economy.”
Castro is billing his plan as “ambitious and achievable” while the cost of it puts him in the middle of other democratic candidates when it comes to money put forth. Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke rank towards the lower end with environmental proposals that cost close to $2 trillion and $5 trillion, respectively. Bernie Sanders is near the top as he has called for a $16.3 trillion investment.
For Castro, it’s not about the cost of these investments but what is at stake if no action is taken.
A key part of Castro’s proposal is putting an end to “environmental racism” which predominately affects communities of color.
If elected president, Castro says said he would propose legislation to combat environmental racism, a form of discrimination where various communities of color are forced to live near environmentally dangerous areas like hazardous waste sites. Castro said he’d do this by bringing forth new civil rights bills such as requiring all federal actions to be reviewed for environmental and health impacts on these low-income and marginalized communities.
“In my administration, we will invest in environmental justice and climate resilience with an emphasis on frontline communities,” Castro writes. “People who are at the forefront of combating climate change, and families who have borne the unequal burden of pollution.”
Castro’s proposed bill would also further strengthen the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to go after polluters who do such harm. It would also give communities and individuals more power to file legal action against companies who have caused pollution and have had a heavy impact on communities of color.
Here is some of what Castro had to say during the CNN Town Hall.
Castro was the first Democratic presidential candidate at the CNN climate town hall which meant he had to set the tone of the evening early. He made an effort to point out many themes in his climate change proposal by emphasizing and calling climate change “an existential threat”.
Castro drew applause from members of the audience when he mentioned the rejoining of the Paris Climate Agreement. He says beyond just the rejoining the agreement again, “it’s actually what comes next that is most important.” There would be an imposed fee on carbon pollution and an executive order banning fossil fuel exploration and development on public lands, Castro said.
Another moment of applause came when Castro discussed some of his prior work as the nation’s housing chief. He reminded people of his past commitment working side by side with low-income communities and helping protect them from environmental dangers and natural disasters.
Castro also faced some criticism when it came to his prior support of fracking.
There was also a tough moment for Castro when asked about his prior support of fracking. Sila Inanoglu, an activist from the Sunrise Movement, a liberal environmental group, asked Castro why he should be trusted to move the country away from fossil fuels when he supported fracking.
“She’s right. When I was mayor of San Antonio, I did believe that there were opportunities to be had with fracking that was going on in South Texas.” Castro responded. “The thing is back then almost a decade ago natural gas was described as a “bridge fuel, we’re coming to the end of the bridge.”
While Castro said he isn’t calling for an immediate ban on fracking in the U.S., he supports the communities and people who are willing to put an end to the practice to move to cleaner sources. He also said he supports a plan for climate education be taught in schools at a young age. In an attempt to fight deforestation, Castro also hopes to plant 30 billion trees by 2050, or roughly 1 billion trees a year.