Former Vice President Joe Biden said that blue-collar workers might suffer in a shift to green energy sources such as solar and wind.
Amid a booming economy that has expanded in part because of a rise in natural gas production, a debate moderator on Dec. 19 asked Biden: “As president, would you be willing to sacrifice some of that growth, even knowing that potentially that it could displace thousands—maybe hundreds of thousands—of blue-collar workers, in the interest of transitioning to that greener economy?”
“Yes. The answer is yes,” Biden, 77, said in Los Angeles. “Because the opportunity, the opportunity for those workers is to transition to high-paying jobs, as Tom [Steyer] said, is real.”
Biden said history showed that America could “take great crises and turn them into opportunities.”
Biden asserted that even now, “we should be making sure that every new building that is built is energy contained—that it doesn’t leak energy.”
The government should also be providing tax credits for people to be able to add solar power to their homes as well, Biden said. He suggested that he was open to relocating people who lost their homes due to weather events and said that no new highways should be built without charging stations, adding that millions of people would be employed building and maintaining the stations.
Billionaire Tom Steyer, speaking before Biden, said he would declare a state of emergency on his first day in office if he was elected because of climate change.
“Not only can we clean up the air and water in our black and brown communities where out pollution is concentrated, this is also the opportunity to create literally millions of middle-class, union jobs—well paid—across the United States of America,” he said. “Our biggest crisis is our biggest opportunity.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), speaking right after Biden, said that the issue wasn’t relocating people in towns. “The issue now is whether we save the planet for our children and our grandchildren.”
He said that the United States should declare a national emergency for climate change and “lead the world” in the arena, taking funds from the military and using that money to “fight climate change.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said that America needs to keep some nuclear plants going as the country transitions to other sources of clean energy.
“The biggest climate problems we face are the politicians in Washington,” she added, accusing lawmakers of taking money from oil companies and “bowing down” to lobbyists from the industry.
“Climate change threatens every living thing on this planet,” she said, adding: “We need to attack the corruption first” before tackling the issue.
Recently, House Democrats succumbed to approving a new trade pact with Canada and Mexico after they failed to gain Republican support to include provisions from the Paris Climate Accord after months of negotiations.
Under the leadership of Republican President Donald Trump, the United States has now begun the process of formally withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.
“President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Nov. 4. “The United States has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy.
“Just as we have in the past, the United States will continue to research, innovate, and grow our economy while reducing emissions and extending a helping hand to our friends and partners around the globe.”