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A Climate Plan For the People

We have always been an aspirational nation. I am reminded of this every time I look into the eyes of our children. With leadership, teamwork, and aspiration, our history tells us anything is possible.  

But we must also speak truth about the road ahead. We are living through a worsening climate crisis that is impacting communities across America and the globe every day. 

From families devastated by hurricanes in the South and the East, to farmers facing flooding in the Midwest, to firefighters battling wildfires in the West, one thing is clear: we need to take bold, direct action. Now. 

The science has established that limiting global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius can avoid some of the most severe impacts of climate change. Meeting that goal will require the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions roughly 50 percent by 2030 and reach net-zero global emissions by 2050. And because the United States is the largest single greenhouse gas emitter in history, we have an obligation to lead this fight. 

But, while we know that the climate threat is great, so is our opportunity. An opportunity to clean our air and water, which will improve the health of Americans and reduce health care costs. An opportunity to create millions of new clean jobs while building an economy that works for working people. An opportunity to rebuild our global standing while increasing our national security. 

My plan — a Climate Plan For the People — is about putting people first, justice for communities that have been harmed and accountability for those responsible. It provides the pathway to engage all Americans to tackle the climate crisis, build a clean economy that creates millions of family-sustaining jobs, and guarantee every person’s right to breathe clean air and drink clean water.

My plan sets out a bold target to exceed the Paris Agreement climate goals and achieve a clean economy by 2045, investing $10 trillion in public and private funding to meet the initial 10-year mobilization necessary to stave off the worst climate impacts. It modernizes our transportation, energy, and water infrastructure. It accelerates the spread of electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines. And it makes big investments in battery storage, climate-smart agriculture, advanced manufacturing, and the innovative technologies that will build our carbon-free future.

By 2030, we will run on 100 percent carbon-neutral electricity, all new buses, heavy-duty vehicles, and vehicle fleets will be zero-emission. All new buildings will be carbon-neutral. We will protect 30 percent of our lands and oceans. We will transition our public lands from producing the fossil fuels that represent 24 percent of national emissions to carbon sinks. And to power this transformation to a clean economy, we will empower the American workforce and create millions of good jobs. 

My plan lifts up the communities across our country that have been ignored for too long. From the Rust Belt to the Gulf Coast, from Appalachia to the Central Valley, our clean economy must be one where everyone has the opportunity to be part of the solution.   

Because we can only succeed in this work when the communities most affected by environmental harm are leading to create healthy, vibrant communities, not the polluters who are fighting to preserve the status quo. When Indigenous Americans are leading to preserve our natural resources, not the oil companies seeking to destroy them. When America’s farmers and ranchers are leading to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through sustainable practices, not the global agribusinesses seeking only profits. When our elected representatives are leading to hold big oil, agricultural, and chemical companies to account, not giving them billions in corporate handouts. And when scientists are leading to inform Americans using science facts, not the pundits peddling science fiction. 

Yes, it won’t be easy. It will be a fight against powerful interests. But I know we can get this done because this is a fight I have taken on before and won. I’ve spent my career working with communities to hold polluters accountable and build a clean economy. It’s why I created the first-ever environmental justice unit in San Francisco as District Attorney and why, as California’s Attorney General, I successfully fought to protect the nation’s toughest climate laws while prosecuting the big polluters that continue to pollute our air and water.  

Together we will build a Climate Plan For the People that prevents the worst climate impacts while creating thriving communities for ourselves, our families, and future generations.  

Here’s our five-pillar plan:

A Foundation for Justice

Successfully combating the climate crisis will require that all Americans benefit from the economic and environmental transformation that comes from replacing dirty fossil fuels with clean renewable energy. There is simply no way to transition fast enough unless we create the economic and leadership opportunities for all Americans to benefit and participate. 

That’s why as we boldly address the climate crisis, we must make empowering impacted communities the foundation of our mission.   

Holding Polluters Accountable

For decades, Big Oil has known the climate and public health impacts of burning fossil fuels. That’s why it sought to protect its assets from future sea level rise while pushing fake science to sow doubt and aggressively fund campaigns to block climate action, push anti-science policies, and bankroll climate-denying politicians. As Attorney General of California, Kamala held polluters accountable and, as President, she will ensure that those responsible for polluting our environment and spreading toxins in our air and water pay for the harm they have caused to public and environmental health. 

Building a Clean Economy That Works For the People

Addressing the climate crisis isn’t just a fight against something; it’s a fight for something. While the climate threat is great, we don’t have to choose between a clean environment and a thriving economy that works for everyone. The work of building a clean economy will create millions of family-sustaining jobs and lift up all communities, leaving no one behind. From investing in clean energy and electrifying transportation, to climate-smart agriculture and resilient infrastructure, achieving a clean economy by 2045 will require all hands on deck.  

Protecting Our Natural Resources

Our public lands and waters belong to all Americans and are a critical tool for combating climate change. We must stop extracting fossil fuels and use our public lands to our collective benefit. We know that healthy forests store carbon and provide clean air and water, protected corridors provide habitat for species critical to thriving ecosystems, natural infrastructure makes communities healthier and more resilient, and access to nature can fuel the mind while fostering the next generation of environmental stewards.

Asserting International Leadership

The United States is the single largest carbon polluter in history and we have benefited the most from the growth that came with burning fossil fuels. We must speak this truth and accept the responsibility we have to lead the global fight for a healthier environment and sustainable future through clean energy solutions. Climate action is a moral imperative and an enormous economic opportunity. Future generations will judge us on whether or not we lead this global fight. 


PILLAR 1

A Foundation for Justice

Successfully combating the climate crisis will require that all Americans benefit from the economic and environmental transformation that comes from replacing dirty fossil fuels with clean renewable energy. There is simply no way to transition fast enough unless we create the economic and leadership opportunities for all Americans to benefit and participate. 

As we implement policies to rapidly reduce emissions, we must recognize that communities across our country have been fighting for the right to live in a clean environment for generations. Everyone needs clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, but for too many Americans clean, healthy air and water have become unattainable luxuries. Across our nation—from Flint, Michigan to Lowndes County, Alabama and Denmark, South Carolina—there are too many families that have been and continue to be harmed as a result of environmental racism and injustice. 

Systemic environmental, social, and economic injustice has disproportionately impacted indigenous peoples, communities of color, and low-income communities. We know that climate change is already exacerbating environmental challenges, increasing inequality, and putting these communities on the frontlines of yet another crisis. They, along with deindustrialized communities and depopulated rural communities—and the women, youth, and future generations belonging to these communities—will face the most direct and dire consequences of climate change. Their fight is our fight.

As San Francisco’s District Attorney, Kamala started the city’s first environmental protection unit to protect residents’ health and hold polluters accountable. As Attorney General of California, she intervened to protect local communities from the expansion of an oil refinery, and from increased pollution from diesel trucks in a community already disproportionately impacted by vehicle emissions. Kamala has fought for justice her entire career and she will continue to do so as President.

That’s why empowering all communities is the foundation of Kamala’s climate and environmental leadership. 

 

Here’s how she’ll do it

She will hold the government accountable for climate and environmental justice by passing the Climate Equity Act, legislation recently announced by Kamala and Representative Ocasio Cortez.

  • Every community should have the opportunity to take part in and benefit as we build a clean economy. From rural communities that are often left out of federal policy to communities of color that are continually passed over in decision making, if we do not empower every family to take part in the climate fight, we will repeat the mistakes of past policies yet again. That’s why Kamala will hold the government accountable to put people first as we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, clean our air and water, and create millions of jobs.
  • To hold Congress accountable, the Climate Equity Act requires that environmental and climate-related legislation receive an equity score that transparently maps and estimates its impact on frontline communities. The score includes both quantitative and qualitative evaluations modeled after economic scores provided by the Congressional Budget Office. To ensure that the score appropriately addresses equity impacts, it will be developed in consultation with experts and leaders from impacted communities and will be periodically updated.
  • To hold the Executive Branch accountable, the Climate Equity Act requires that environmental and climate-related rules and regulations that have significant impacts on frontline communities undergo an additional level of review to mitigate negative impacts, maximize benefits, and bring representatives from those communities into the regulatory review process. It also requires that environmental and climate-related federal grant-making and investment programs undergo review to ensure that impacted communities benefit from federal programs and policies. 
  • To give frontline communities a seat at the table, an independent Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability will be established to represent the views of frontline communities, conduct research on issues and trends in frontline communities, measure the costs and benefits of federal actions on frontline communities, and monitor government compliance. During the review of rules and regulations, it ensures that representatives of frontline communities have a voice, providing insights and comments on how to minimize negative impacts and maximize benefits. 
  • While Kamala works with Congress to pass her Climate Equity Act, she will use her Executive authority to implement the principles it sets forth, providing frontline communities a seat at the table in decision-making. She will also work to reinstitute and expand Executive Order 12898 and work with Congress to pass Senator Booker’s Environmental Justice Act. 

 She will strengthen the environmental safety net and reverse the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental protections.

  • The current administration has rolled back, or is in the process of rolling back, over 80 environmental rules. These rules protected Americans from air pollution and toxic chemicals and laid a foundation for holding the fossil fuel industry accountable. Kamala will use her authority to restore critical environmental and public health protections and reverse the damage done by this Administration. She will also reinstitute the Social Cost of Carbon Taskforce, ensuring that we understand and appropriately account for the social and economic cost of emissions in all federal actions. 
  • The National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) established that the public has a right to engage with the federal government in a transparent and equitable environmental decision-making process. The current Administration has sought to undermine the protections provided by NEPA in the name of cutting red tape. We must not fall into this trap. Kamala will fully fund our agencies, ensuring that we have knowledgeable, professional federal employees on staff to conduct unbiased scientific assessments and NEPA reviews in a timely and efficient manner. We must also work to close loopholes for polluters, including the Halliburton Loophole, which exempts the fossil fuel industry from disclosing the dangerous chemicals used in fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Access to the courts is fundamental for Americans to hold polluters accountable. By statutorily reinforcing standing for those harmed by pollution and strengthening counsel-access provisions, we can protect access to the courts for citizens seeking restitution for environmental and climate-related damages.   

She will defend clean air and water as fundamental rights for all Americans.

  • Communities across the nation have experienced the detrimental impacts of our aging and failing water infrastructure. At least 40 states are anticipating water shortages by 2024, while as many as 15 percent of households are facing water affordability challenges. Far too many families live with contaminated water every day. From lead in Flint and Newark to PFAS in New Hampshire and nitrates in the heartland, with an estimated cost of $1 trillion over the next 20 years, we must immediately address our water safety, affordability, and sustainability crisis. 
  • Kamala’s Water Justice Act declares a Drinking Water Infrastructure Emergency and invests $250 billion over the next five years to repair and replace drinking water infrastructure, provides aid to rural families to upgrade and maintain their well water and septic systems, creates a new low-income assistance program to help households pay for high drinking water and wastewater utility bills, and addresses sustainable water supply in a changing climate. And as we fix our infrastructure, we will create millions of jobs and spur local economic growth. 
  • As we continue the progress of cleaning our air, we must acknowledge that air pollution is not experienced equally. Low-income communities and communities of color shoulder a greater burden of toxic air and the resulting health impacts than White and wealthy communities. A recent study in California found that Black, Latino, and Asian families were exposed to 21 to 43 percent more air pollution than White families. This contributes to the fact that Black children are four times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for asthma than their White counterparts. As a country, we spend more than $80 billion each year in asthma-related costs, with much of that burden on low-income communities and communities of color. 
  • We must explicitly address the inequities created by air pollution and implement policies to decrease emissions by prioritizing meeting national air quality standards and cleaning the air in overburdened communities across the nation. By supporting and expanding models like California’s Community Air Protection Program, we can reduce exposure and improve health outcomes in communities that have suffered from dangerous air pollution for far too long. 

 She will stand up for Indigenous rights and ensure that Native Americans are given a voice in the fight to rectify systemic environmental injustices forced upon Indigenous communities.

  • If we are to truly rectify environmental injustice, we must address the systemic exploitation of Indigenous communities by our federal government. This starts with speaking truth: many of the challenges facing Native Americans stem from policies that disrespected tribal sovereignty, flouted the government-to-government relationship, and disregarded treaty commitments. That is why Kamala’s Climate Equity Act ensures that Indigenous people are given a seat at the table, and that Indigenous communities give free, prior, and informed consent before projects go forward that may affect them or their territory. This starts by respecting calls to halt pipelines across native land and ensuring consent-based siting that includes consent by Indigenous communities for any nuclear waste storage project, including Yucca Mountain.  
  • The recent report on Climate Change and Land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change repeatedly addresses the need to bring Indigenous peoples into decision-making processes and to utilize indigenous and local knowledge to our collective benefit. Kamala will work with Indigenous communities to fight the climate crisis, learning from their traditional ecological knowledge, history, and experiences.  

PILLAR 2

Holding Polluters Accountable

 Throughout her career, Kamala has held polluters accountable. She went after oil companies that weren’t following safety rules for underground storage tanks, and held corporations accountable for unlawfully disposing of hazardous waste. She criminally prosecuted the pipeline company that was responsible for the 2015 Santa Barbara Oil Spill, criminally prosecuted a Chevron refinery for violations that contributed to a toxic fire at the refinery, and ensured justice after the 2011 Cosco Busan Oil Spill that impacted more than 100 miles of California coastline. 

Big Oil has known the detrimental impacts of burning fossil fuels for over 40 years. Since then, they have endeavored relentlessly to stop government action on climate change. Their decades-long campaign of denial, delay, and deception includes spending millions to push industry-funded studies meant to obfuscate the scientific consensus on climate change, and to halt policy progress to the detriment of human life. The fossil fuel industry must be held to account for knowingly damaging our environment and endangering public health. 

Just as we will not let the fossil fuel industry off the hook, chemical companies and other polluting industries that have also pumped toxins into our air and water must be held responsible. Far too many communities across our country suffer from health impacts from contaminants like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their water, and asbestos and ethylene oxide in their air. Everyone has the right to clean air and clean water and our government has a responsibility to uphold these rights.  

That’s why Kamala’s Administration will hold accountable those responsible for environmental degradation, the misinformation campaign against climate science, and creating harm to the health and wellbeing of current and future generations. 

 

Here’s how she’ll do it 

She will end federal subsidies for fossil fuels and hold Big Oil accountable for its role in the climate crisis.

  • A recent study by the International Monetary Fund found that total direct and indirect U.S. subsidies to the fossil fuel industry were $649 billion annually, equivalent to roughly $2000 per American every year. While some of these are indirect subsidies borne by the public—in the form of local air pollution, public health impacts, and damages from climate change—direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry amount to billions of dollars, primarily due to support for oil and gas production. Kamala will leverage both executive authority and Congress to end federal support for the fossil fuel industry, including by protecting our public lands, eliminating tax preferences, and opposing new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.
  • As Kamala holds polluters accountable, she will ensure that the hardworking employees of these companies become the builders of the clean economy of the future. That’s why the families of fossil fuel workers are included in her Climate Equity Act, which will ensure that these workers help form the policies that will create millions of new jobs. These workers deserve to continue to have good paying union jobs as part of the new clean economy and Kamala is committed to valuing their work and ensuring a just transition. 

She will support the federal enforcement of environmental and public health standards and put the onus on corporations to disclose risks and demonstrate their products do not cause harm.

  • To hold polluters accountable, the federal government needs the resources to investigate and prosecute bad actors. Kamala knows that effective enforcement requires the EPA to work in collaboration with states to hold polluters accountable. That’s why she will robustly fund the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance and ensure it has the staff required to enforce our existing environmental and public health protections while also providing assistance to states working to hold polluters accountable. And, under Kamala’s Administration, the Environmental and Natural Resources Division at the U.S. Department of Justice will have the directive and resources to address both cumulative and legacy pollution.
  • Kamala will prioritize public health and force polluters to pay for the harm they cause by increasing penalties for companies found out of compliance with federal laws. Additionally, she will restore the “polluter pays” model for funding the Superfund program. By building on the recent reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act, Kamala will shift the burden of proof to manufacturers to demonstrate the safety of all potentially toxic substances, including chemicals found in pesticides and cosmetics that endanger vulnerable persons and communities every day.
  • The impacts of climate change extend to every American business whether that business is actively causing to the climate crisis or helping to solve it. For the largest U.S. companies—those that have outsized influence on our lives and economy—failing to assess and disclose the risks that the climate crisis poses to their business is a direct threat to their future success and our national economy. Kamala will ensure that corporations appropriately assess and disclose risks from climate change. This includes incorporating strategies like Senator Warren’s Climate Risk Disclosure Act, which directs the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue rules requiring that public companies properly disclose their climate risk.

She will make polluters pay for emitting greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.

  • A climate pollution fee can play an important role as one of several interrelated policies to reduce emissions and hold polluters accountable. As Governor Inslee noted, a price on pollution is not a silver bullet, but by placing a progressively increasing fee as far upstream as possible, we can drive down pollution while raising government revenues that can be used to address the harms of greenhouse gas emissions. However, history shows us that reliance on market mechanisms alone can often leave communities behind. That’s why Kamala will involve frontline communities in the fee development process, and would ensure that the fee revenues are invested back into those communities to improve environmental conditions and local economic development.

PILLAR 3

Building a Clean Economy That Works For the People

Addressing the climate crisis isn’t just a fight against something; it’s a fight for something. While the climate threat is great, we don’t have to choose between a clean environment and a thriving economy that works for everyone. The work of building a clean economy will create millions of family-sustaining jobs and lift up all communities. 

From investing in clean energy and electrifying transportation, to climate-smart agriculture and resilient infrastructure, tackling the climate crisis and transitioning to a clean economy will require us to do a lot of things at once. Leaving no one behind will mean ensuring that communities have access to clean energy solutions like community solar, public transit, green spaces, and the millions of family-sustaining jobs those industries will create. It won’t be easy and success will take time, effort, accountability, and cooperation. 

That’s why Kamala will implement a vision for climate action on day one of her presidency that inspires all Americans to help solve the climate crisis and build a clean economy that works for working people. 

   

Here’s how we’ll do it

We will achieve a clean economy no later than 2045.

  • To build a clean, carbon-neutral economy by 2045, we will need to track our progress and keep ourselves accountable. We can do this using progressive year-on-year benchmarks that target individual sectors, including energy, transportation, infrastructure, industry, and agriculture that meet appropriate goals for reducing emissions. And we will achieve these goals by investing $10 trillion of public and private spending over the next 10 years, creating millions of new, high-quality jobs. 
  • In order to make rapid progress, we must focus our efforts on immediately implementing well-understood and efficient policies to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in sectors like electricity and ground transportation, while simultaneously working on solutions to sectors such as aviation, shipping, and the creation of products like cement, steel, and plastics.
  • To achieve success at the federal level, we must build upon the work and progress made by cities and states across the country. From setting ambitious renewable portfolio standards to uniting with cities across the world to commit to climate action, the bold plans to combat the climate crisis that cities and states have put forward show us what is possible. We should also partner with and encourage the significant number of companies pursuing ambitious sustainability efforts while empowering workers. That’s why Kamala will support the innovative and bold strategies states, cities, and businesses enact to ensure that as we address the climate crisis, we are building a future for everyone.  

We will meet 100 percent of our electricity demand with carbon-neutral power by 2030.

  • Using a progressively more stringent Clean Electricity Standard that acknowledges states are all starting from different points in terms of the carbon intensity of their electricity supply and the unique challenges facing rural America, we can rapidly get to 100 percent carbon-neutral electricity by 2030. This will require extending and expanding renewable and clean energy tax credits, including for energy storage and other supportive infrastructure. We will also leverage existing federal programs that support the financing of clean and renewable energy projects. As we implement this strategy, we must ensure that our policies aid underserved and vulnerable impacted communities.  
  • Accelerating the deployment of clean energy to rural areas will require building off the existing efforts of rural electric cooperatives and leveraging the Rural Utilities Service at USDA to take over unprofitable dirty energy assets, speeding up their retirement and enabling clean and renewable technologies to replace them, quickly decarbonizing power generation for rural communities while keeping energy costs low. Other rural programs at USDA, including the Rural Housing and Rural Business Service will also be expanded to help rural communities invest in renewable energy and energy-efficiency. 
  • Building an electrical grid for the 21st century will require comprehensive cooperation between federal, tribal, state, and local governments. This includes transmission infrastructure that will both connect our communities with renewable energy sources and support the distributed energy resources that are critical to achieving our clean energy goals. Spurring the transmission infrastructure required to achieve our goals will require new incentives like expanding the Investment Tax Credit to transmission infrastructure to ensure that transmission is not holding back penetration of renewables. 
  • We also know that grid insecurity continues to pose a national security risk. Cyber security threats and climate-exacerbated natural disasters both expose the vulnerability of our electric grid. That is why Kamala will direct the Department of Energy to focus on security and reliability efforts and will direct the Secretaries of Energy and Defense to conduct a comprehensive assessment of grid vulnerabilities by the end of the first year of her Administration.
  • Energy storage is a critical part of solving the climate crisis, which is why Kamala will support robust funding for grid-scale and distributed energy storage technology through the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Reliability and Office of Electricity. Rural communities—where access to broadband is exacerbating broader challenges to economic development and incorporating clean energy technologies—will receive special focus and will require federal agencies partnering with rural electric cooperatives. And the federal government will invest in additional R&D to drive down costs, while developing tools and analysis for utilities and all levels of government to implement these technologies.
  • To help communities fund clean energy projects, Kamala will mobilize private investment through mechanisms like a green bank as outlined in Senator Markey’s National Climate Bank Act. These types of finance strategies can reduce emissions and build climate resilience in communities across the nation by accelerating deployment and adoption of clean energy technologies like community solar, especially for low-income and middle class communities.  

We will lead the global electrification of the transportation sector and make it affordable for everyone to be part of the solution.

  • Building upon Kamala and the U.S. government completing a successful $14.7 billion settlement with Volkswagen from their emissions cheating scandal—which now supports the electrification of the transportation sector—and an accelerated model of Senator Merkley’s Zero-Emission Vehicles Act, we will ensure that 50 percent of all new passenger vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2030, and 100 percent are zero-emission by 2035. This will require a new and improved “cash for clunkers” program with incentives for cars to be replaced with zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) manufactured in America, and extra, targeted assistance for low and middle-income families. This will establish American auto innovation and manufacturing as the best in the world for zero-emission vehicles. 
  • To address transportation emissions immediately, Kamala will reinstate federal clean car rules, including reinstating and increasing vehicle fuel economy standards in partnership with California and other states and countries. She will institute a national Low-Carbon Fuel Standard to ramp down emissions from transportation fuels as ZEV adoption ramps up. To accelerate the adoption of ZEVs, Kamala will also require that all new vehicle purchases for corporate fleets, transportation networks, and heavy duty vehicles be ZEVs by 2030. 
  • By progressively expanding the electric vehicle tax credit and shifting it to a point of sale rebate, Kamala will ensure that low and middle income families are able to benefit from the transition to a zero-emission fleet. This will also require major investment in public charging infrastructure, including working with gas stations to utilize existing infrastructure where appropriate and building a network of charging stations across the nation. 
  • We must also incentivize people to reduce car usage and use public transit. This starts by funding robust public transportation networks to bring communities together and focusing our transportation infrastructure investments toward projects that reduce vehicle miles traveled and address gaps in first mile, last mile service. By requiring that all new buses be zero-emission by 2030 and investing in local and regional transportation projects, we can eliminate emissions while connecting communities. This includes providing assistance to school districts to electrify their fleets, as proposed in the Clean School Bus Act, legislation that Kamala introduced earlier this year. The bill targets federal investment in low-income communities that will also provide significant health benefits to young children who will no longer be exposed to harmful vehicle pollution. 
  • As we electrify the rest of the transportation sector, we must invest in R&D to fuel and build the future of shipping, aviation, and rail, including high-speed rail. To ensure progress on decreasing emissions for these sectors, Kamala will direct her Administration to develop specific emissions reduction goals for each industry within two years. 

We will build climate-smart infrastructure to reduce emissions and keep our communities safe and healthy.

  • Our buildings must be part of the climate solution. That is why Kamala will require that new buildings are carbon-neutral by 2030. To help cities and states meet this goal, she will direct her Administration to develop a Clean Building Standard that is updated every three years, incorporating new technology and best practices into a guide for reducing emissions and withstanding climate hazards. This will also include enabling grid flexibility so that we can take full advantage of technologies in the home that can help load level the grid, like smart thermostats and ZEVs.   
  • By retrofitting existing buildings and focusing on energy efficiency and weatherization programs, particularly for low-income and underserved communities, we can address emissions from existing infrastructure and reduce energy bills across the nation. This will also require addressing the nation’s affordable housing crisis, leveraging our investment in active transportation plans and climate-smart infrastructure to increase urban density in a way that provides everyone the opportunity to live, work, and play in their own community. 
  • We must make sure we are building the infrastructure for the next generation, including by updating crumbling schools with clean energy solutions. By reviving the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant and and supporting legislation like Senator Cortez Masto’s Renew America’s Schools Act, we will help communities holistically address emissions from infrastructure, increase resiliency, and decrease energy bills and health care costs. Kamala would also use her Water Justice Act, which creates a Water Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, to help communities invest in water efficiency as a way to further reduce emissions and energy costs.
  • The wildfires, hurricanes, and floods we have experienced over the last few years, including those in California, Texas, and Iowa, have demonstrated how critical it is that our infrastructure withstand the challenges of climate change. Hardening critical infrastructure, incentivizing decentralized energy resources, and mandating that all federally funded infrastructure projects integrate climate hazards in project design will improve community resilience, helping families get back on their feet faster while reducing overall costs.
  • Greening our communities by building with natural infrastructure can provide a wealth of benefits. Natural infrastructure can combat sea level rise and help achieve energy savings by combatting the urban heat effect and reducing air conditioning needs. Using natural elements can also help collect stormwater runoff, improve groundwater recharge, mitigate erosion, and protect critical infrastructure by buffering the impact of storms and flooding. By passing Kamala’s Living Shorelines Act and implementing strategies like green roofs, green streets, riparian buffers, and planting trees, we can clean our air and water, improve public health, and increase the resilience of our communities.

We will empower our farming and ranching communities to be part of the climate fight.

  • Our farming and ranching families are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and they will play a critical role in ensuring that we have a sustainable food supply for generations to come. American farmers and ranchers can fight climate change better than farmers and ranchers from anywhere else in the world. Kamala will partner with them to develop the regenerative agricultural systems the world needs to provide food, fiber, fuel, and environmental service for 10 billion people. 
  • American farmers and ranchers need smart public policy that rewards both good conservation and efficient production. Supporting farmers in addressing conservation and environmental concerns while providing assistance for them to meet agricultural production goals can simultaneously promote community resilience and healthy families. America’s farmers and ranchers are key partners and can help lead the fight against climate change, for example, by expanding carbon farming efforts, removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it back in the soil. 
  • In Kamala’s Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will support every farm in America to fully implement science-based agricultural conservation practices by 2040, establishing our agricultural sector as a global leader in climate-smart agriculture. Different regions, different crops, and different animals will require unique strategies to reduce emissions and pollution while increasing value, resilience, and carbon sequestration. Farmers are already employing these practices on cropland across the country. That’s why Kamala’s Administration will build on the work already being done by the USDA to provide assistance and incentives for farmers to develop and integrate climate- and environmentally-smart practices that will result in healthier soils, crops, and animals such as conservation tillage, using cover crops to keep roots in the ground all year long, using livestock for environmental services like managed grazing, adding crops into rotations, and partnering with renewable energy.
  • American farmers and ranchers can develop the agricultural innovations that can help solve the climate crisis. They need great partners in ARPA-E, the USDA, and our Land Grant institutions. Kamala will fight to undo the attacks on these important agricultural scientists. She will propose budgets to provide farmers with the technical assistance and resources they need to lead the world in the agricultural revolution that will reduce emissions, capture carbon, and continue to produce enough for a growing global population. 
  • As we reduce emissions from agriculture, we must also address the food Americans waste every day and the broader goal of zero waste. Cities, states, and innovative companies across the nation are already charting a path toward zero waste. For our food, this means strategies to increase food utilization, increase commercial composting, reduce packaging, and to collect food waste for use as local biofuels. For other products, it means shifting from plastic to recyclable and degradable packing materials like cardboard and paper. It also means investing in community recycling programs that create local jobs. If we reduced the amount of waste we send to landfills by 75%, we could create over a million jobs in recycling and composting. The federal government can support these initiatives by leading by example – just like it will do for the broader transition to a clean economy.

We will create family-sustaining jobs to fuel our clean economy.

  • Building a clean economy will require the work of millions of our nation’s hardworking builders, steelworkers, electricians, pipefitters, carpenters, and communications workers. As we transition to a clean economy, we must ensure that the jobs we create are good-paying, family-sustaining jobs that protect the right to organize. That’s why Kamala will support policies – like Senator Merkley’s Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act – that drive development of clean energy infrastructure and technology across the country, all while establishing and maintaining high-road labor standards. Protecting our workers and ensuring they have the right to join a union and collectively bargain for safe, good-paying, family-sustaining jobs is key to growing our economy and advancing U.S. competitiveness across the globe.
  • We will leave no one behind in the transition to a clean economy. Kamala will protect and empower communities that have worked in the fossil fuel industry for generations by ensuring they are at the decision-making table and receive the benefits they have worked for and deserve, like pensions, health care, and job transition assistance, including bridge wages. We must also provide a path for workers near the end of their career by providing retirement security. That is why Kamala will work with organizations like the BlueGreen Alliance to effectuate collaborative strategies that partner the labor and environmental communities like the Alliance’s Solidarity for Climate Action
  • As we create millions of jobs to fuel the clean economy, we must also make a serious investment in our workers and support them as they build on their existing expertise and acquire new skills. That’s why Kamala will use her 21st Century SKILLS Act, which provides up to $8,000 for workers who are unemployed, dislocated, or underemployed to use for skills training and other educational opportunities, including apprenticeship programs through unions, to secure good-paying jobs linked to local employment demand. This will also cover other costs associated with training, such as childcare and transportation, to ensure families have the full support they need to access high-quality training that leads to high-quality jobs.
  • Every year, federal funds are used to purchase billions of dollars worth of goods and services. Buy America provisions have supported American jobs and put federal dollars back into local economies. As we combat the climate crisis, we can pair Buy America with Buy Clean, ensuring that the procurement process for infrastructure and goods is supporting our efforts to reduce emissions and boost clean manufacturing in America. And as we invest in our nation’s infrastructure, policies like Senator Gillibrand’s Build Local Hire Local Act will ensure that local communities benefit first from federal investment in infrastructure projects.  

We will make the United States the center of global research and innovation for a clean economy by building a diverse workforce with expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

  • Leading the world in the technologies and innovations that will help us achieve a clean  economy starts with fully funding our federal science and research agencies, national labs, and partnerships. Whether it is land-use change research at USGS, infectious disease research at the CDC, or energy efficiency research at the National Labs, funding our federal science apparatus is critical to our success in a changing climate.
  • To leverage the work done by federal scientists, Kamala will work to close the technology commercialization gap through initiatives like Senator Heinrich’s Energy Technology Maturation Program Act, that would facilitate commercialization of federal laboratory-developed energy technologies, boosting regional, technology-driven economies. She will also encourage partnerships between public colleges and universities to enhance training programs for clean energy jobs and clean research efforts such as those at the University of Nevada – Reno’s Innevation Center.
  • Kamala knows that building a diverse STEM workforce is critical to our success in tackling the challenges ahead. That is why she would work with Congress to pass STEM diversity legislation, including her Combatting Sexual Harassment in STEM Act and 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act. Additionally, Kamala has proposed a $60 billion plan to boost STEM at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority serving institutions.
  • But there is no successful future STEM workforce without skilled and passionate teachers fostering the potential of the next generation. That is why Kamala has made increasing pay for our teachers a priority and why we must provide educators the resources to increase climate literacy through initiatives like Senator Markey’s Climate Change Education Act and programs like NOAA Sea Grant.

PILLAR 4

Protecting Our Natural Resources

America has some of the most precious natural resources and public lands in the world. But their fate is under threat from bad actors and harmful policies. In many cases, our public resources have been exploited for huge gains to private corporations, often at the expense of the rights of all Americans to clean air, clean water, and a safe and healthy environment.

The majority of our public lands are not in pristine National Parks, Wilderness areas, or other protected spaces across the nation. Instead, most are open for resource extraction and other uses, often leased to destructive industries for pennies on the dollar. As a result, fossil fuel production on public lands currently accounts for roughly 24 percent of national carbon emissions. To combat the climate crisis, we must phase out fossil fuel development and extraction on these landscapes immediately and use our public places to our collective benefit.

That’s why Kamala’s Administration will put an end to the fossil fuel exploitation of our public lands and shift to renewable energy development and conservation, while ensuring that all Americans have the ability to enjoy our natural wonders.  

 

Here’s how she’ll do it

She will phase out all fossil fuel development on public lands and implement conservation and renewable energy strategies to make our public lands net carbon sinks by 2030.

  • After immediately halting all new fossil fuel leases on federal lands and waters, Kamala will use existing authorities and work with Congress to phase out existing leases and implement emissions mitigation strategies such as capping methane flaring and linking production royalties to the social cost of carbon so that oil and gas companies are paying for the climate damages they are causing. And Kamala will ensure a just transition so that communities that are dependent on the revenues and jobs from fossil fuel development on public lands have opportunities in the new clean economy.
  • As we end the extraction of dirty energy, Kamala will increase wind – both onshore and offshore – and solar production on public lands where appropriate, creating a Public Land Renewable Energy Zone Strategy within her first year in office to responsibly expand renewable energy capacity on public lands while protecting natural habitats and endangered species. This strategy will bring together federal agencies, tribes, renewable energy developers, environmental groups, and local stakeholders to ensure that we have a successful plan for meeting our renewable energy goals while protecting the environment and respecting local and Indigenous needs.
  • Today, our public lands contribute far more carbon emissions than they store through natural carbon sequestration. We must turn that around, putting forward a bold goal and strategy to make our public lands absorb more carbon than they emit, as net carbon sinks by 2030. In addition to ramping up renewable energy development and ending fossil fuel extraction on public lands, meeting this goal will require protecting, restoring, and stewarding our natural systems to capture and store carbon. For example, the Tongass National Forest in Alaska already captures more carbon than any national forest in the country. Yet instead of protecting this natural resource, the Trump administration is attempting to strip it of protections, opening up millions of acres to destructive activities like commercial logging and mining. In contrast, Kamala has already introduced three bills to expand protections on more than 1 million acres of public land in California alone. 

She will protect 30 percent of all of our nation’s land and ocean by 2030.

  • To ensure that we leverage nature to help us face the climate crisis, we must make protecting our remaining natural ecosystems and restoring degraded environments a priority. That is why the U.S. must join the global movement to protect 30 percent of our land and ocean by 2030. From the wetlands of Louisiana to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Nevada’s Red Rock Canyon, there are ecosystems across our country that need protection. 
  • Meeting this goal will require diversifying the marine and land ecosystems that we protect and targeting biodiversity hotspots and critical wildlife corridors. This starts by using existing authorities under the Antiquities Act to protect critical landscapes like restoring protections to Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and leveraging and fully funding popular programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund. And working with Congress, Kamala will support legislation that protects the health and function of our ecosystems like Senator Udall’s Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act and Senator Hirono’s Botanical Sciences Act.
  • Protecting our public lands also means ensuring that we are telling the diverse stories and histories of all who have experienced our natural wonders. For example, the César E. Chávez National Monument in California was established in 2012 and tells the story of the leaders of the farm workers movement like César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong while allowing visitors to experience the beauty of the Tehachapi Mountains. Kamala will work with underrepresented communities, including tribes, communities of color, the LGBTQ community, and others to identify, protect, and appropriately honor sacred sites and places of historic and cultural significance to ensure that our national parks and monuments honor and tell the stories of all Americans. 
  • Climate change will increase the challenges that come with restoring and conserving ecosystems. To ensure a thriving ecosystem, we must focus efforts on preserving biodiversity, fighting invasive species, and protect our most fragile and vulnerable environments. Lands that contain transition zones between habitat types may experience faster changes than others. And impacts like sea level rise will exacerbate the conflict between coastal hardening and a functioning coastal ecosystem. To address these challenges, Kamala will require the implementation of climate-smart conservation and restoration practices, incorporating flexibility and embracing adaptive management where appropriate in concert with preservation.  
  • By 2050, wildfires are projected to burn twice as much land across the American West each year. A healthy forest and ecosystem is the best defense against wildfires and fostering healthy forests starts with science-based forest management. That’s why Kamala will provide the U.S. Forest Service and the communities in the wildland-urban interface the requisite resources to address this threat. She will also partner the federal government with states and communities to provide funding to implement community wildfire protection plans. This includes defensible space projects, infrastructure hardening, evacuation planning, and education campaigns. 

She will ensure that access to nature does not depend on your income or zip code.

  • Our public lands belong to all Americans and it is time we make that a reality. Outdoor recreation also puts billions of dollars into our economy and provides millions of jobs. That’s why Kamala will create a new Office of Outdoor Recreation to coordinate outdoor opportunities across federal, state, and local governments. She will also make entry to all of our public lands free, including our National Parks. 
  • To begin to address the maintenance backlog at our National Parks, Kamala will work with Congress to pass the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act. The new Office of Outdoor Recreation will work to boost visitation to less well-known public spaces, increase diversity in outdoor recreation, and ensure that access to our public spaces is for all by implementing strategies like transit to trails.
  • Nearly 100 million Americans don’t have access to a park within a 10-minute walk. Outdoor parks provide local communities more than just a place to recreate – they foster the social, environmental, and economic health that help communities thrive. They also provide people with leisure that does not have a large carbon footprint. To address this recreation deficit, we must increase funding for outdoor recreation and green spaces in cities through bills like Kamala’s Outdoors for All Act, providing a gathering place for communities and helping combat local air pollution, improving water quality, and reducing the urban heat effect.

PILLAR 5

Asserting International Leadership 

The United States is the single largest carbon polluter in history and we have benefited the most from the growth that came with burning fossil fuels. We must speak this truth and accept the responsibility we have to lead the global fight for a healthier environment and sustainable future through clean energy solutions. Climate action is a moral imperative and an enormous economic opportunity. Future generations will judge us on whether or not we lead this global fight. 

There is no corner of our planet that will escape the impacts of climate change. Across the country and around the world, we see proof that the climate crisis is already upon us: more frequent wildfires, droughts, heat waves, water shortages, melting glaciers and rising seas, 500 year storms that now occur with much greater frequency, threats to farmers and our food supply, lives and livelihoods threatened or lost. Additionally, climate change is exacerbating conflict and forced migration through resource scarcity, which poses threats to populations around the world. By mid-century, hundreds of millions of climate refugees may be forced to migrate because of worsening environmental conditions due to climate change.

Climate change is the greatest global threat facing the international community and those least at fault will experience the detrimental impacts of climate change first and hardest. As the biggest carbon polluter in history, the United States has a moral obligation and a responsibility to lead the global fight against climate change. And as the largest economy in the world, we have an economic imperative to address this crisis. The United States must return to the negotiating table with new commitments to carbon neutrality before mid-century and aggressive near-term targets that set a high bar for others – particularly other major emitters including China and India. We must also hold others accountable to their commitments to reduce emissions and take action when they falter.

When the United States leads on climate change, we can serve not only to make the world a better place–we also protect our national interests and create opportunities for American ingenuity, innovation, and prosperity.  

That’s why Kamala will restore America’s global climate leadership and treat the climate crisis as a top national security priority.

 

Here’s how she’ll do it

She will immediately rejoin the Paris Agreement and chart a path forward, demonstrating to the international community that the U.S. is deeply committed to global climate action

  • We must boldly and aggressively fix the damage done by the Trump administration. That is why Kamala will put in place the policies to achieve a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2030. Then, in advance of the first Conference of Parties following her election and in consultation with domestic stakeholders and key international partners, Kamala will set an ambitious updated target and set forth a bold mid-century strategy of reaching a carbon-neutral economy by 2045. 
  • As she establishes the nation’s goals on climate, Kamala will reengage bilaterally and multilaterally with other major emitters, particularly China and India, to secure their commitments to action commensurate with U.S. ambition and in line with what is required to address the climate crisis and limit warming below 1.5 C. Kamala will also ramp up negotiations among the world’s largest emitters to end harmful fossil fuel subsidies and ensure the U.S. leads the world in providing meaningful financial and technological climate-related assistance to nations that need it the most.
  • She will honor the U.S. pledge to contribute our fair share to the $100 billion committed in Paris to support countries’ transition to a carbon-free future. And she will then negotiate a significantly greater global commitment to funding the transition, guided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate that $1.6 – 3.8 trillion in global energy system investment is required to avoid the most harmful effects of climate change. As part of this effort, Kamala will honor and double U.S. climate finance commitments to the Green Climate Fund and other climate-focused finance mechanisms, seeking to maximize the leverage of each dollar we spend by working with other donor countries, philanthropy, and the private sector. 
  • As Kamala knows from her experience as California’s Attorney General, transparency is critical to ensure that we can track progress toward results and to be able to hold those who aren’t doing their part accountable. That’s why Kamala will work with international partners to improve global greenhouse gas data collection, including through deployment and use of satellite monitoring systems to visualize global emissions and the impacts of land use change and forest loss on the climate crisis. She will also use tools of diplomacy to hold nations accountable when they do not meet their commitments to fight the climate crisis. 

She will make the climate crisis a top national security priority. 

  • International cooperation will be critical to tackle the climate crisis. That is why Kamala will establish a climate envoy in every major embassy around the world and prioritize U.S. engagement and partnerships on commitments to climate pollution reductions leveraging the expertise of U.S. scientists, innovators, workers, and communities. 
  • As the U.S. leads the global effort to reduce emissions, the Department of Defense, with its global footprint, must be part of the solution. The very first sentence of the Department’s mandated report on climate change acknowledges that “[t]he effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operation plans, and installations.” Climate change undermines our military’s ability to do its job. That is why Kamala is committed to ensuring that the DoD is a leader in climate resiliency, clean energy, and addressing climate destabilization. As President, Kamala will appoint a new Defense Climate Advisor to coordinate and oversee projects and strategies across the DoD to ensure that our military is prepared for the new challenges climate change will present. She will also ensure that DoD is a leader in reducing emissions and adopting technologies that neutralize its carbon footprint while enabling it to be more nimble and resilient.  
  • Every region on Earth will feel the impact of climate change in the years ahead. As extreme weather events become more frequent and more intense, natural resources become more scarce, and major economic sectors evolve to accommodate a changing climate, tensions will rise and geopolitical conflicts will become even more enflamed. Kamala will ensure her National Security Council not only prioritizes climate action in international engagement, but also factors in the impacts of climate change into near- and long-term national security planning.
  • It is far past time for the U.S. to ratify key international environmental agreements like the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which would reduce the use of potent greenhouse gases in air conditioning and refrigeration processes, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, aimed at promoting sustainable development by recognizing the values and services that biological diversity worldwide provides. She will also work with other countries to identify and pursue new global agreements where needed — such as solving the problem of plastic in our oceans. 
  • The health of our forests, farms, natural lands and oceans present critical solutions for our collective effort to combat the climate crisis. The health of America’s forests and farms will be a priority of Kamala’s administration, so that the United States can lead other nations by example. Dedicated diplomatic efforts will be directed towards a global plan to save the world’s forests, including the Amazon rainforest – our planet’s lungs and home to incredible biodiversity – from continued destruction. As the U.S. works to achieve the goal of protecting 30 percent of its land and ocean by 2030, Kamala will work with international partners to realize that goal at the global scale. And, Kamala will make sure that executive agencies leverage their numerous international relationships to increase science, environmental, and climate cooperation. 

She will prioritize clean energy in international trade and development to facilitate the transition away from fossil fuels.

  • We must begin intentionally and deliberately transitioning away from fossil fuels, shifting from being an exporter of fossil fuels to an exporter of clean energy technology. To encourage the international adoption of clean energy, Kamala’s Administration will work to end support for international oil and gas projects, including directing the U.S. Export-Import Bank and OPIC to end their investments in projects that continue to develop, extract, and utilize fossil fuel resources. She will use the influence of the United States to end similar investments at the World Bank and other multilateral development institutions in which the U.S. participates. She will work bilaterally and multilaterally with other world leaders to ensure that fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL pipeline do not move forward.
  • As a follow up to the G7 meeting being hosted by the Trump Administration in 2020, and the G20 meeting to be hosted by Saudi Arabia in that same year, Kamala will propose and convene a meeting of major emitters in early 2021, focusing on climate change and the global economy. The meeting will focus on renewed commitments to fossil-fuel subsidy phase out and the first-ever global negotiation of the cooperative managed decline of fossil fuel production. 
  • Kamala will also support the significant and growing clean-tech industry in the United States, focusing trade agreements and support from the Export-Import Bank, IDFC and other institutions on bolstering trade and investment in clean-tech solutions. She will also work with the U.S. investment community to foster public-private initiatives to leverage trillions of dollars into clean energy investments and projects that use American technologies and innovations around the world. 
  • Aviation and shipping represent areas of significant emissions growth worldwide and in the United States. To address emissions in these sectors, Kamala will commit the U.S. to implement the system established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to decarbonize aviation, called CORSIA, and will work with the American airline industry to reduce airline emissions consistent with the long-term goal of carbon neutrality. She will similarly pursue domestic action and international cooperation through the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to address maritime emissions.

She will work with our allies to stem and address climate migration and welcome climate refugees.

  • As the climate crisis evolves, we know that communities across the world will face unprecedented challenges. Island and coastal nations will find themselves underwater, deserts will expand, and water will become scarcer. That is why the U.S. must engage with its allies to prepare for future climate-induced migration and work with our allies to formulate a plan to welcome future climate refugees. Kamala will direct executive agencies, such as USAID, to cooperate with other countries and international partners to support climate resiliency, improve disaster preparedness, and restore the health of environmental systems in order to address climate migration. She will also work to ensure that climate refugees are given appropriate protections under international law.

The entire world is looking for climate solutions. Americans can and must lead. Kamala will empower every corner of the country and people across America to lead the world in solutions to the climate crisis.