The Corner

Energy & Environment

Beto Unveils $5 Trillion Plan to Accomplish Only Half of the Green New Deal’s Main Goal

Beto O’Rourke speaks at a rally in Los Angeles, Calif., April 27, 2019 (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

On Monday morning, Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke unveiled a plan calling for “a full mobilization of our democracy and economy” to combat climate change. At the heart of O’Rourke’s plan is a $5 trillion bill and an “enforceable standard that guarantees the United States will achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and be halfway there by 2030.”

The O’Rourke campaign claims that the candidate’s plan is “in line with the 2050 emissions goal of the Green New Deal,” and several media outlets are repeating that claim.

But the text of the Green New Deal resolution introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (and backed by most Democrats running for president) calls for “meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” within a decade. As Ocasio-Cortez’s office explained in a fact-sheet about the Green New Deal: “[The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] Report said global emissions must be cut by 40-60% by 2030. US is 20% of total emissions. We must get to 0 by 2030 and lead the world in a global Green New Deal.”

So Ocasio-Cortez called for net-zero emissions in the United States by 2030, and O’Rourke is only claiming he can get the United States halfway there by 2030 by spending $5 trillion and taking no fewer than nine executive actions. (The O’Rourke campaign appears to be confusing the Green New Deal’s global emissions goal with the national goal set for the United States, but the campaign has not responded to an email from National Review requesting comment on this large discrepancy between his plan and the Green New Deal.)

How does Beto plan to pay for it? According to the fact-sheet distributed by his campaign, the $5 trillion bill “will be funded with the revenues generated by structural changes to the tax code that ensure corporations and the wealthiest among us pay their fair share and that we finally end the tens of billions of dollars of tax breaks currently given to fossil fuel companies.”

To put that trillion $5 trillion price tag in context, it is four times the amount of Elizabeth Warren’s $1.25 trillion plan for “free” four-year college and canceling most student-loan debt. And for all that money, O’Rourke only claims his plan will accomplish half of the Green New Deal’s main environmental goal by 2030.

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