(Syracuse, NY – October 3, 2021) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party’s 2020 presidential candidate, blasted Democrats today for accepting token climate measures in the shrinking Build Back Better reconciliation bill.
“Biden’s original climate proposals in his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan last March were inadequate to begin with. Only about $100 billion a year in that proposal were climate- and energy-related spending. Its policies included counter-productive measures like further natural gas development,” said Hawkins who made a detailed critique of the plan’s climate provisions at the time.
“As the Democrats keep cutting the Build Back Better reconciliation bill, they are surrendering to climate collapse as the global climate summit prepares to convene in Glasgow at the end of this month. The climate movement needs to recognize this reality and demand an emergency Green New Deal to really deal with this existential crisis,” Hawkins said.
President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that Democrats should accept a bill that spends around $2 trillion, which is down from the 10-year $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that Congress agreed to in August. The $3.5 trillion plan was itself down from the $6.1 trillion that Biden had proposed in the spring in his American Jobs Plan for physical infrastructure, including climate measures, and his American Families Plan to expand the social safety net.
The policies in Biden’s jobs and families plans are now proposed at smaller scales in two bills, a bipartisan infrastructure bill costing $550 billion in new spending on traditional roads and bridges infrastructure and the Build Back Better reconciliation bill for social and climate spending whose price tag keeps shrinking. On Friday, Pramilla Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said progressives would have to accept the Biden and Pelosi proposal to scale back spending in the reconciliation bill.
Hawkins campaigned in 2020 for an Ecosocialist Green New Deal with a 10-year budget of $27.5 trillion to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Its ecosocialist approach featured public ownership and planning in the energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors similar to the federal takeover and mobilization of a quarter of U.S manufacturing during World War II. Other well-developed Green New Deal plans also called for much higher spending on climate action in the next decade, including the 10-year $16.3 trillion Green New Deal plan that Bernie Sanders campaigned for and the 10-year, $10 trillion plans put forth in the Roosevelt Institute’s Green New Deal plan and in the THRIVE Agenda, supported by the Green New Deal Network of climate action groups.
“Biden’s goal of ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050 is way too late, even assuming his climate policies could meet that goal. The International Panel on Climate Change’s latest report in August shows the world surpassing the important threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming in a decade. Already there are 1.5 million American climate refugees from climate-related storms, droughts, and wildfires. The least Biden should do is declare a climate emergency to expand his powers to take executive climate actions and send a signal to the climate summit. Instead, he’s giving out more fossil fuel leases on public land and permitting more oil pipelines like Enbridge Line 3. Greta Thunberg was right to mock Biden this week when she said ‘Build back better, blah, blah, blah’,” Hawkins said.
“I campaigned for a Green New Deal. Trump and Biden opposed a Green New Deal. We still need a Green New Deal. The Build Back Better bill is not it. The Green Party will continue to fight for it,” Hawkins said.