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Not Much Climate Plan in Biden Jobs Plan

The Biden “Jobs Plan” contains some good infrastructure proposals, but most of the spending will not reduce carbon emissions. Only two million buildings are targeted for retrofitting and there are no serious regulations to force investment into sustainable energy. Robert Pollin joins Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news

Transcript

Paul Jay

Hi, I’m Paul Jay. Welcome to theAnalysis.news. Please don’t forget the donate button at the top of the webpage and on YouTube there’s a subscribe button in the corner and a share button too. Be back in a second.

In the statement that announced the American jobs plan, that’s the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan, it says, “While the American Rescue Plan is changing the course of the pandemic and delivering relief for working families, this is no time to build back the way things were. This is the moment to reimagine and rebuild a new economy”. So does this plan do it? The amount of the investment that’s been announced is roughly $2.25 trillion dollars, and while it’s far from clear what the final bill will actually look like at first, look, it does seem at least a more serious plan in the direction of addressing the climate crisis, but given the scope and urgency of the crisis, is it enough? And is the way the money is being targeted going to be effective?

We’re going to look at the plan, not so much just about the politics, about whether it might pass or not, which is what most of the media is talking about. In other words, if this plan is the plan that becomes law, will it address the urgency and scale of what’s facing us? Now joining us to unpack the Biden plan is Robert Pollin. He’s the co-founder of PERI the Political Economy Research Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts. He’s the coauthor of a book with Noam Chomsky titled Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet. Thanks for joining me, Bob.

Bob Pollin

Very glad to be on.Thank you, Paul.

Paul Jay

Let me just just add to my intro just one note and you might comment on this a bit and then we’ll get into the plan. It’s a rather unique moment for such a big infrastructure plan because of the pandemic, because of the recession and the danger of an even deepening economic crisis. Wall Street on the whole, doesn’t seem to be adverse to a big infrastructure plan. Of course, lots of the banks own lots of companies that will make money out of such a plan.

But still the normal way they are adverse to deficits and yelling about the problems of inflation. We’re hearing very little of that from the banks, and we’re not even hearing that much pushback to what Biden plans to do in terms of raising taxes to pay for some of this. So maybe you can just comment on this kind of moment we’re in and then we’ll get into more of the details of the plan.

Bob Pollin

I agree. It’s a historically unique moment. I mean, the Covid recession in terms of its severity over the last year was actually greater than even the 1930s depression. Of course, the 1930s depression lasted for a decade. This one is so far about a year. Half the people in the country, in the U.S. experienced layoffs, unprecedented and the levels of poverty increased.

Obviously, people dying from covid, it’s really just been a severe crisis. Now, the point is that with universal vaccination or near universal vaccination, maybe we can come out of it, but we’ve already had massive numbers of business closings and so just to say we’re going to go back to where we were is impossible on the face of it because the composition of the economy has changed because of the job losses and business losses. So, yeah, build back somehow, hopefully better.

That’s really the question, and keep in mind that even the severity of the recession was fifty percent of the workforce laid off over the course of the year. That’s despite the fact that we spent fourteen percent of GDP, three trillion dollars on a stimulus program, and the Federal Reserve poured in four trillion dollars, nearly twenty percent of GDP to prop up Wall Street, which is, by the way, why stock prices have gone up by almost fifty percent.

This is also unprecedented. There’s never been any kind of recession, downturn, financial crisis in which, jobs are getting lost, but Wall Street is going up. Stock prices went up by fifty percent.

Paul Jay

And we’ve all seen the numbers of the increase in wealth of a few billionaires. I can’t remember the exact number, but it’s stratospheric increase in their wealth over the course of the pandemic.

Bob Pollin

Yeah, well, it’s been concentrated in the tech sector, where you have these giant firms that can operate just fine, are in fact designed to operate fine online, and that’s really been the thing that’s driven them other than the general increase in the stock market due to the Federal Reserve intervention. Remember, $4 trillion dollars. That’s a lot of money within one year. So, you know, there’s been this massive disparity between people whose jobs rely on in-person contact going someplace.

So only about five percent of the jobs in the lower twenty five percent of the wage distribution are jobs that can be done online, whereas in the upper twenty five percent of the wage distribution, about fifty five percent of all the jobs could be done online, and so that represents a lot of what’s going on today. Their online activity has substituted for what had been in-person activity.

Paul Jay

OK, so let’s get to the plan. So this plan that we’re talking about is supposed to be a plan that addresses the “crumbling” is the word people always use crumbling American infrastructure, which I guess it is, but even more importantly, use the infrastructure plan to address the climate crisis and climate change. So you wrote a book with Noam Chomsky with a plan. So just in broad strokes, to what extent does the Biden plan live up to the Pollin-Chomsky plan?

Bob Pollin

So the Biden plan, let me first say it’s different than what he proposed when he was a candidate, and I think months ago we talked about what he had proposed as a candidate, so as a candidate, he had proposed $2 trillion dollars over four years, so averages to $500 billion a year. So as you mentioned just now, this new plan is $2.3 trillion over eight years. So that’s a little less than three hundred billion.

So already without any kind of pushback from anybody, at least officially, publicly, he’s already cut the plan on an annual basis by about forty percent, from $500 billion to roughly $300 billion.

Paul Jay

Just just to say again, cut it from the plan he campaigned on.

Bob Pollin

Yes, he cut it from the so-called Build Back Better proposal that he was campaigning on. OK, now, still the question is well, is this enough? What does it mean to be enough? Well, the first and foremost, we’d have to say, is it enough to move the U.S. on to a climate stabilization path? OK, so let’s say we’ve got this total of $300 billion and it’s hard to know exactly but, I’ve been playing with some of the numbers and I would say it’s fair to say that about a third of it are in investment areas that would help us reduce emissions and move on to an alternative energy system and reduce emissions from other sources, including agriculture.

So that means $100 billion a year. Now, thank you for mentioning my book with my obscure coauthor, Noam Chomsky. Yes. Fabulous guy, by the way, anyway. What I’ve been estimating and the work with Noam, but also more generally, we need about $600 billion. I think we need about $600 billion per year on average over 30 years to get to a zero emissions economy. So we could say that Biden is giving us $100 and we need $600 billion.

So obviously not enough, but it’s clear also that I myself always said that, look, most of the money should come from the private sector incentivized by public policy. So Biden does have some measures that would incentivize the private sector.

Paul Jay

Bobby, before you get to that, let me just ask you something about something you said. How do you get to the one-third number? That of this package it’s only one-third that really is directed to the climate?

Bob Pollin

Well, because, as you mentioned, a lot of it is going for traditional infrastructure, bridges, roads, water systems. A lot of it is going to broadband development, universal broadband. That’s desirable, but it’s not going to bring down emissions. A lot of it is going to support the care economy, elder care, child care, also very important and highly worthy, but it’s not going to bring down emissions. So when you look at it, in some ways it’s not that easy to break it all out because some things kind of get double counted.

But I think it’s fair to say that roughly one-third is doing something that will help reduce emissions. Some of the other things which are quite valuable also are resilience, climate resilience. So adaptation like building seawalls or making making agriculture more resilient, also extremely worthy and addressing real needs of people, but it’s not going to bring down emissions.

Paul Jay

Also retrofitting buildings is one you’ve talked about many times, but same thing not.

Bob Pollin

No that does bring down emissions because you don’t consume energy. Yeah. So that’s very important. That’s one of the key things, and they do give attention to that. So that’s good. So in my opinion, two things bring down emissions, raising energy efficiency standards and building out renewable energy systems. So that’s what I say. We need 600 billion a year. We need it to raise energy efficiency standards quite dramatically. In other words, I’m assuming the economy is going to keep growing over time, but our energy consumption, any kind of energy does not increase at all.

It stays flat so that we become more efficient every year, and then for the energy that we need, I’m assuming we’re going to fulfill that with solar, wind, geothermal, maybe some hydro and some small scale hydro and some bioenergy, low emissions bioenergy. We also have to invest in reforestation and organic agriculture because those things absorb CO2. So that’s where I get the $600 billion. If you’re not doing any of those things, you’re not reducing emissions.

So that’s that’s kind of it. So that’s where I think he’s got about $100 billion public money going into anything that will reduce emissions.

Paul Jay

OK, so you’re saying to get closer to that $600 billion Biden has some measures that would stimulate private investment. Let me first ask you, what’s the virtue of that? Why not just tax the private sector and come up with the $600 billion?

Bob Pollin

Well, yes, you could do that. It’s not realistic politically to get I don’t think, to get that much increase in taxation. I mean, he has proposed an increase in the corporate tax, but I mean, I myself don’t think it’s a bad idea to let the private sector have a big role in this.

As I may have mentioned at some other time, I myself am a clean energy capitalist, a small scale, but there’s nothing wrong, I don’t think, with having, community investment projects, especially with clean energy. We don’t have to think of it as a big corporate utilities or big oil companies. Quite the contrary. It’s an opportunity for a lot of communities to start developing small scale energy systems, and so, if you have the right incentive structure, I don’t know that you can get the $500 billion that you need, but you can get a significant amount.

But that means that you have to have very strong regulations and incentives, and the regulation he does, they do have one significant regulation. The problem is it’s too vague. They say they want to have eighty percent of all electricity generated by clean energy by 2030 and one-hundred percent by 2035. Now, the point is, if that’s real, then yeah, then the private sector is going to invest in clean energy because they have to.

But what if this is just aspirational? That would be very nice. Then it’s meaningless, as has been the case in a lot of. Like in New York State, they had something similar a renewable portfolio standard. I studied it. In 2015 they are supposed to be at 30 percent renewable electricity. They never got there. There wasn’t a single article in the press. There wasn’t a single memo within the whole state government saying, whoops, we missed it. They just made up a new one, and so if it’s all going to be rhetoric, of course, we’re not going to get.

Paul Jay

So I don’t know, realistically speaking, first of all, what’s in the Biden plan that would facilitate, stimulate this private investment? And if it isn’t enough, shouldn’t there be a lot more money on the table from the government and two given this unique moment where Wall Street doesn’t seem to be at all concerned with inflation or debt, you don’t have to necessarily tax it to get to the six hundred billion they’re creating money left, right and center. They can just make some more.

Bob Pollin

Yeah, well, I think that the Biden plan relative to things that we’ve had before, including Obama, it is extremely ambitious, I want to give him credit for that. It’s also, at least so far, rhetoric, it is very strong in support of job creation. It’s called the American Jobs Plan. So this is also a massive sea change. When I first started working on this issue of green energy transition and job creation, I did it precisely because the prevailing view was you can save the planet or you can create jobs, but you can’t do both.

And I was saying, well, actually, the two, of course, go together because you’re going to have to invest in new activities which will create jobs. That seems to have sunk in, and so that’s really important, and secondly, they do talk about these jobs being union jobs. I would also add that they do positively talk about investments in underserved communities, communities that have been badly hit by the impacts of utilities, pollution and so forth.

So those are all positives, but in the end, if we’re real, we’ve got to get to somewhere on the order of $600 billion a year, and by the way, that’s just for the United States. Biden’s plan doesn’t say anything about the rest of the world. We have an obligation to help finance the green transition in the rest of the world. So there’s not enough there. Wall Street, what do they think? Well, you know, there is, of all people, Larry Summers, who was a top adviser to Clinton, and then Obama, a Harvard professor of economics, he’s the one saying that the inflationary dangers are very serious.

I don’t think there is. There are many other people that are agreeing with him. I myself don’t agree with it. On the debt issue. Right. The government can borrow at one percent. So why not borrow long term at one percent and, the burden of the debt is going to be trivial. So, yeah, they could get they could get up to more than $100 billion easily. The government.

Paul Jay

It seems to me that they’re coming up with trillions, we’ve discussed this before, you don’t necessarily have to take the money from the Pentagon, but they got $1 trillion over the next decade and a little more going into nuclear weapons, and they’re building Ford class aircraft carriers at $14, $15 billion apiece. I mean, clearly, the money can be done if they’re really serious about this.

Bob Pollin

You don’t even need to be a hundred percent serious, you can be half serious.

Paul Jay

I was just going to say the bar is so low. I mean, you can’t even consider Trump part of the bar, but the Obama administration, it was a rather modest and this certainly goes significantly further, although it’s very different conditions now about what is possible, but when I look at the plan, the very first thing and this is the point you made right off the top, the very first thing in the plan is fix highways, rebuild bridges, upgrade airports and transit system, modernize highways and roads.

I mean, none of this really has anything to do with lowering emissions, and apparently I don’t know if you know the breakdown, but a large part of the money is going to that, right?

Bob Pollin

That’s what I mean. So, if one-third is going to energy and maybe ten percent is going to care economy, roughly half we’re talking about is going to traditional infrastructure.

So the other thing is, and we have talked about this before, when we talked when Biden was a candidate. They’re very careful in their use of words and their words matter, the terminology that has been around for a long time in terms of limiting fossil fuel consumption with utilities was, quote, renewable portfolio standards. Now, I just looked at the plan before we got on, and it’s actually clean energy standards, meaning it’s not renewable energy so much.

It could be carbon capture technology with fossil fuels and nuclear power, and that is being pushed, I think, extremely hard. I just saw a piece in the Financial Times today where Senator Manchin is this pivotal person in the middle between the Democrats and Republicans from West Virginia says, if you want to save the planet, then you must be for carbon capture technology. In other words, carbon capture, meaning that you burn oil, you burn coal, you burn natural gas, and you have a technology to capture the bad stuff, the carbon, and store it underground forever.

Paul Jay

My understanding is that environmentalists, who’s against carbon capture, it’s not about being against carbon capture, there’s just no evidence of carbon capture works or certainly works on a scale that could be effective given the timing and urgency of the crisis. It sounds like he’s talking about some moral thing about being against carbon capture  it just isn’t real in the given moment, am I wrong about that?

Bob Pollin

Well, I personally am not big on carbon capture for many reasons. Number one is, you’re right, there’s no evidence as yet that it works on scale. If you look at the most recent study from the Energy Department, the U.S. Energy Department came out in February, meaning it was prepared while Trump was still in office, and it costs out the electricity generation from coal with carbon capture, solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, et cetera, coal with carbon capture, 7.3 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity, solar photovoltaic is half that or less than half its 3.22 cents.

Wind is 3.7 cents. Geothermal 3.7 cents. Nuclear is 7 cents. So, I mean, if you’re just like a strictly greedy cost cutting capitalist, then you say oh, we should be using renewable energy, we shouldn’t be using coal with carbon capture or nuclear.

Obviously, the reason they want to do carbon capture is to keep the fossil fuel companies alive. There’s no other reason, but that’s where we are, and let’s say, we’re talking about a time scale. We’re going to need to get to fifty percent reduction in nine years by 2030. We already know that solar, wind, they work and their costs are coming down. Solar costs have come down by eighty percent in just the last decade, whereas coal with carbon capture hasn’t seen it work at all.

And the Energy Department is saying, well, maybe you can get it to work, it’ll cost twice as much. So why are we doing this? We’re doing it to preserve the fossil fuel companies.

Paul Jay

Now, we talked about the importance of retrofitting buildings, insulating and so on. So they both, in terms of cooling and heating, are more efficient, and we gave some credit to the Biden plan, but the Biden plan, according to the statement, they’re only talking about two million homes and buildings.

Am I wrong that is barely a drop in the bucket of the number of buildings, and it’s one of the most effective strategies they could possibly come up with. Why only two million?

Bob Pollin

Yeah, that’s that’s extremely low and yes, retrofitting buildings is the most efficient way, not in the United States in the whole world. It is the most efficient way to bring down emissions way cheaper than anything else. One tenth the cost of, I already mentioned that solar and so forth are much cheaper than fossil fuels and nuclear, retrofitting buildings is one-tenth the cost of solar.

So, of course, you should be retrofitting every single building and it saves people money and it’s going to bring down emissions at a very low cost and very quickly, and it creates the most number of jobs. It’s very labor. You know, it’s people coming into buildings and doing the retrofit.

Paul Jay

Let me add something to that having lived in Baltimore for a few years. I think I’m a little speculating here, you can correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s the kind of job that people could be trained for rather quickly. So if you’re talking about increasing employment, especially in the poorer areas of inner cities and everywhere, really, but relatively unskilled workers can learn and be trained to retrofit buildings. So as an employment thing, it’s one of the most effective.

Bob Pollin

It’s the most effective. It’s the best thing all around. There are issues with it, just like there are issues with everything else. Like you do have to get permission to go into people’s homes and people well I’ve got to go to work, the hassle,  I don’t want you to screw up my house. I know this again from my own business. We’ve experienced that, and there are issues with it.

So it’s easier to do it in a commercial building. It’s easier to do it in a big apartment buildings, but basically it should be done and it can be done, and it is by far the cheapest way to sell it.

Paul Jay

Maybe that’s the problem with it, you know, is that it’s too cost efficient. In other words, if I’m a Wall Street investment banker, I’m going to make a heck of a lot less money out of a massive investment in retrofitting versus bridges and all that, and again, I think broadband is fantastic and it must be done. Rural broadband is just terrible, but a lot of the places they’re putting money in this plan are places where corporate America will make more money, and the place that’s maybe more effective in terms of climate, there’s less investment going on.

Bob Pollin

Whereas, you know, in 2009, the global economy almost completely collapsed because of these things, the securitized mortgage for subprime mortgages. So if you want to figure out a way to finance doing something in people’s homes that are not rich people, Wall Street already figured that out in the most malicious way possible that you could do the same kind of thing. You could securitize these retrofitting projects. You build the savings into the cost of people are paying their electricity bill.

Well, let’s say their electricity bills gone down by forty percent. So you keep paying in to your bank until you’ve covered the cost. It all could be done very easily. The biggest issue is in terms of this problem of getting people to agree to it. It’s very labor intensive and you have to communicate with every homeowner. They have to agree to let you in their house. These are the things I myself encountered in trying to do it as a business person.

Paul Jay

Now, it’s not just about homes, though. It’s office buildings.

Bob Pollin

Now, office buildings should be way here because people don’t own office buildings because they love their office buildings. They’re doing it to make money, and if you tell them we’re going to lower your energy costs by fifty percent, and we’re going to be able to do it at a zero interest, one percent interest loan, it should go really, really quickly. Yeah, it is a great way to help save the planet.

Paul Jay

All right, so let’s go back to the beginning of that, because when you break out what you did in the beginning, that it’s only a third of this is for directly climate issues, and we look at retrofitting and it’s only, I can’t believe this, two million homes. I mean, it’s crazy. There’s more than two million homes in some of the smaller cities in the United States nevermind the country. It makes you wonder if the climate part of this is kind of more window dressing and the infrastructure spending that will make companies that manufacture construction equipment and so on a lot of money and they’re not yet still aren’t really serious.

I woul think, from what I understand of this issue, this four years is probably the most pivotal last chance gasp at hitting that one point, staying under 1.5ºC warming above pre-industrial temperatures. That target that now all the scientists are saying it’s no longer 2ºC it’s about, as you said, like nine years, and so if there’s any chance of staying within this window of opportunity, it’s this four years and this is the plan for this four years, and they’re even talking about compromising with some Republicans and some centrist right-wing Democrats, like the guy from West Virginia you mentioned. So it might not even be this.

Bob Pollin

Well, yeah, it’s pretty clear. There was this report that came out last month from the U.N. where the secretary general of the U.N. says 2021 is the pivotal year because to get investment projects going, it’s nice to talk about them and to pass laws, but to actually get them going is going to take two or three years, I mean, at scale. So we have to act now in order to have any chance to hit the target for 2030.

And the Biden plan itself, as I said, he’s calling for eighty percent reduction in fossil fuel electricity. Well, again, it’s not fossil fuel. Eighty percent clean energy, electricity generation. That’s in nine years.

Now, we have to really get on it to have any chance of getting close to that. That’s why I said, well, it sounds really good, but what happens if we don’t hit it? Is anybody going to jail? Are they paying $100 million fines? So far that hasn’t been included, and if we don’t, if it’s all voluntary, aspirational, ain’t going to happen.

Paul Jay

So Biden’s having this meeting with the leaders of Russia and China, and there’s other meetings have been going on in Europe among leaders. If this is the most that the U.S. is willing to do, Biden trying to play the role of the global leader on climate and he’s going to rally these other countries that, at least in the American press, are being portrayed as sort of being more reluctant to do something, especially China, and actually, I do want to ask you about China, but let’s sort of next.

But what moral authority is Biden really have here? Because these other countries can parse these numbers the way you are.

Bob Pollin

Well, the European Green Deal, I’ve also read that has a lot of beautiful rhetoric. The level of money that they’ve committed is even less than Biden. It’s something in the range of one half of one percent of GDP of the European economies, whereas the Biden one, the public spending is about a half a percent of GDP. So the Biden one a lot of it does depend on well can we actually mobilize the private sector? And if you actually had the regulations that, you know what, by 2035 it’s one hundred percent renewable electricity or everybody goes to jail, but then you then you will get one hundred percent renewable electricity from private investors.

And, you know, the auto companies, they’re saying, one hundred percent automobiles, electric by 2035, it’s voluntary. When Trump was in, they were against it all together. So these have to be binding commitments, and if you have binding commitments from the private sector, well, maybe we’re on a decent track, but we can’t just have the federal government spend $100 billion and then just say, OK, the private sector, they’ll probably come along. We don’t know that.

Paul Jay

The unfortunate thing here is, as we know, the real priority of the Biden and not just the Biden of every administration is to win the next election, and this looks like a document which is calculated, how do we win in 2022? How are we going to get reelected in 2024 and at least climates on the radar now, but it’s a bit late just to be on the radar, and this plan looks like more of an electioneering kind of positioning.

Let’s see how many sectors we can please, especially in the finance sector. OK, I don’t want to be so pessimistic about this thing, but when you dig into it, you don’t come out optimistic.

Bob Pollin

Well, you know what Gramsci says. “Pessimism of the mind, optimism of the will.” So I think that it’s something I mean, relative to where we were six months ago, this is glorious. Of course, it’s not adequate, and, of course, there are going to be more compromises, but actually, Mansion I actually met with Mansion’s staff about a month ago because I wrote a study focused on West Virginia Transition, and Mansion, kind of slowly he’s saying some favorable things.

He’s saying that a transition to a renewable economy is a long term goal. On the other hand, he says we have to have carbon capture, but I think six months ago he would have said, why would I even listen to somebody like you? What’s the point? So there has been movement and let’s give credit where it’s due. It’s tremendous work by organizers all over the country, different sorts, including people in the labor movement, which also is new, that even you’re even getting labor leaders in the trade and the building trades who’ve been vehemently opposed to all of this to start to come around.

In fact, even yesterday, there was a piece in The New York Times that the head of the United Mine Workers, Cecil Roberts, said he will support a renewable transition in exchange for good jobs.

Paul Jay

So where is that in this plan? Why aren’t they just straightforwardly promising that workers in the fossil fuel industry will transition either to the sustainable energy or whatever, but will not lose a penny of their salary that they’ll get subsidized, until there is a transition, why don’t they just come out and offer them?

Bob Pollin

They do talk about transition. So that’s a positive. They do talk about it. They do say it’s important. Do they say what you say that everybody is guaranteed a job, everybody’s pension is guaranteed, everybody’s wages will stay the same? No, they don’t. That’s basically the plan that I developed, including in West Virginia. I costed it out even for West Virginia, which is the most coal dependent state in the country.

Even for West Virginia if you give every single person employed in the fossil fuel sector and any ancillary sectors in West Virginia and every single one of them is guaranteed a pension, guaranteed another job and guaranteed the same wages, plus, you throw in money for relocation and retraining as needed. We’re talking about less than one-fifth of one percent of West Virginia’s GDP a year.

Paul Jay

I’m guessing that’s less than the money the Fed used to prop up the stock market.

Bob Pollin

The stock market got propped up with twenty percent of U.S. GDP. This is less than one-fifth of one percent of West Virginia. Now, the numbers are miniscule. Keep in mind for coal. There’s only sixty thousand people in the whole country that are employed in the coal industry, 30,000 of whom are doing things other than mining coal, they’re secretaries or accountants or lawyers. Those jobs are easily transferable. Thirty thousand people in a labor force of one hundred and sixty million. You know, you can fit thirty thousand people into the New England Patriots Stadium and still have sixty thousand seats left.

It’s hard to even a narrow, partisan political point of view, the Democrats, would destroy the Republicans in a place like West Virginia with an offer like this. I know there’s other there’s other issues, but still.

That’s that’s exactly what I told Mansion’s staff, by the way. They were at least, maybe they were being polite, but they were pretty favorable in our discussion. We’ll see what comes of it.

All right, just before we end this little bit, I’ve been reading an article, I guess it’s in the magazine Foreign Affairs, I think, where the authors are talking about China’s climate policy, essentially saying it’s smoke and mirrors, that while they set this target of 2060 to be carbon neutral or net zero, I guess it’s the term, but it’s not realistic because of the amount of coal they continue to bring online and the dependency on coal and that to meet the growth targets that the Communist Party of China has set for the country, it’s impossible at this stage for them to do it without a lot more coal.

So, I mean, do you think that’s a correct assessment, that we’re also looking at smoke and mirrors, a lot of smoke from the Chinese? I don’t know yet. I mean, the Chinese, I mentioned before that the cost of solar panel solar electricity has come down eighty two percent in nine years. I mean, that’s astounding, and it’s still coming down. That’s due to China. China is the one that drove those costs down. U.S Europe. We can’t take any credit. So they have invested and they want to dominate the clean energy industry for the next generation, and if they keep up the way they’re going, they probably will.

It’s also true that they are hedging their bets and they’re building out coal. So, these goals, they have to become binding and just to say you’re going to get to zero and not do anything about it means nothing. Just like the Paris, the 2015 Paris Agreement, the greatest climate agreement in history. If you actually look at what every country pledged to do, there will be no emission reduction at all in the next 20 years.

Zero. That’s the Paris agreement, so it’s really critical that we get beyond the political rhetoric and really dig into what’s possible, and the thing is building out a clean energy, a green economy is affordable. My model says it’s two and a half percent of global GDP a year. Another model from the International Renewable Energy Agency comes in at almost exactly the same number that I came in, a totally different methodology. Other models, more or less the same.

So two and a half to three percent of GDP is affordable. It will create millions, tens of millions of jobs. It will lower energy costs. It’ll raise health standards, and guess what? It’ll save the planet. That’s what I would call the Green New Deal.

Paul Jay

All right. Thanks for joining us, Bob. All right.

Bob Pollin

Thanks a lot, Paul.

Paul Jay

And thank you for joining us on theAnalysis.news. Don’t forget the donate button, the subscribe button, the share button, all the buttons and see you again next time.

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2 Comments

  1. No livelihoods in the package, either corporate handouts for ephemeral services which will enrich the PMC or some $15 min wages in markets that don’t really need them, and so will attract in even more low income to drive up rents.

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