Expanding on his ambitious plan to combat climate change, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the Climate Protection and Justice Act, Dec. 10, to establish a price on carbon pollution. The legislation would cut total emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, fund historic investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies, return billions of dollars to working families and protect the most vulnerable communities.
“What the scientists tell us is that we have a relatively short window of opportunity to bring about the fundamental changes that we need in our global energy system to transform our energy system,” Sanders said on the Senate floor. “It is absolutely vital that we do what many economists tell us we must and that is put a price on carbon. It is the simplest and most direct way to make the kind of cuts in carbon pollution that we have got to make if we are going to successfully transition away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”
Sanders’ legislation would return billions of dollars to working families to ensure that the fossil fuels industry doesn’t pass on unfair rate hikes. Eighty percent of revenue would be transferred from big polluters to the middle class.
The legislation creates a “Climate Justice Resiliency Council,” which will distribute $20 billion a year in block grants to areas disproportionately affected by climate change. The bill also sets aside $3 billion each year for energy efficiency investments for towns, cities and low-income families. Other aspects of the bill include: protections for the manufacturing sector from unfair international competition; roughly $1 billion in annual investments to reduce costs for the agricultural sector while also reducing pollution; and reforms to dramatically increase energy efficiency and improve resiliency of the electrical grid.
Earlier this week, Sanders introduced the American Clean Energy Investment Act of 2015 and the Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act to create millions of jobs and drive over $500 billion in clean energy investments between now and 2030.
“The Sierra Club strongly supports the Climate Protection and Justice Act of 2015, as well as the Clean Energy Investment and Transition Acts,” Liz Perera, Sierra Club Climate policy director, said. “We greatly appreciate Senator Sanders’ legislative leadership in tackling the climate crisis–the greatest challenge of our time–while also advancing new plans for ensuring jobs, justice and support for the communities affected as we transition to clean energy. These important pieces of legislation provide billions toward necessary efforts to ensure environmental and economic justice as we grow the booming clean energy economy even more. We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Sanders and his colleagues, with the shared goal of building a cleaner, stronger, healthier and more just economy for all American families and workers.”