Former Democratic Texas congressman and 2020 presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke announced his first major policy initiative Monday before a visit to California’s Yosemite National Park. It’s a sweeping $5 trillion plan to tackle climate change.
The park’s majestic views provided a dramatic backdrop for a move O’Rourke hopes can revive a campaign that started off with a bang but has seemingly lost some steam recently. The plan calls for increasing taxes on corporations and top earners and for cutting tax breaks for fossil fuel companies.
“We are announcing the most ambitious climate plan in the history of the United States, ” said O’Rourke before a gathering of press and supporters at the park. “We will insure that we are at net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 and that we are halfway there by 2030, a little more than 10 years from now.”
O’Rourke acknowledged that the plan wouldn’t come cheap.
“That means mobilising $5 trillion,” he said. “That means investing in people and communities and the technology that will allow us to be the leader in the world in insuring that we’re there for the next generation.”
The plan would, among other things, spend $5 trillion over 10 years to improve aging infrastructure while pledging to take “significant actions to defend communities preparing for intensified natural disasters.”
O’Rourke’s pledge to transition the country to net zero climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, however, fell short of the expectations of some environmentalists. For example, The Sunrise Movement, which helped shape Democratic New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey’s “Green New Deal,” called O’Rourke’s proposal a backtrack on a pledge he made to get to zero greenhouse emissions by 2030. O’Rourke made that proposal at an appearance earlier this month in the early primary state of Iowa. Under his latest pledge, O’Rourke, if elected president, would push for the country to get halfway to zero emissions by 2030. The Sunrise Movement also challenged O’Rourke to sign on to a pledge not to accept PAC money from the fossil fuel industry during his campaign for the White House.