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The Sanders climate plan can work. Warren's can't.

This article also appears on Jacobin.

The differences are big, they're ideological - and they have consequences.

Here is Elizabeth Warren's plan for international climate adaptation and mitigation:
...even if we reduce America’s emissions so that they are net-zero by 2030, we will still fall far short of the reduction in global emissions needed to avert a climate crisis...Here’s my plan for that: Invest $2 trillion over the next ten years in green research, manufacturing, and exporting — linking American innovation directly to American jobs, and helping achieve the ambitious targets of the Green New Deal.

Here is the plan Bernie Sanders has proposed:

  • "Invest in the Green Climate Fund...In order to help countries of the Global South with climate adaptation efforts, the U.S. will invest $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund for the equitable transfer of renewable technologies, climate adaptation, and assistance in adopting sustainable energies."
  • "Instead of accepting that the world’s countries will spend $1.5 trillion annually on weapons of destruction, Bernie will...Bring together the leaders of the major industrialized nations with the goal of using the trillions of dollars our nations spend on misguided wars and weapons of mass destruction to instead work together internationally to combat our climate crisis and take on the fossil fuel industry."

This is not some marginal or irrelevant difference. Warren's plan is centered around building a green export industry that will develop technologies and products and sell them to poor countries at a profit for US businesses. Sanders' plan is centered around taxing the rich and global demilitarization to secure the funds and then turning them over to the United Nations.

One plan is plainly grounded in Warren's faith in markets and promoted with the rhetoric of "economic patriotism". As I noted elsewhere, Warren's climate plans are also deliberately designed to accomodate US militarism.

The other plan expresses Sanders' skepticism in markets. His is the only plan that even begins to grapple with the magnitude of the international climate finance problem, and he does it, correctly, by positioning militarism and the fight against climate change directly at odds.

Naomi Klein has it right: the solution to the problem of international climate adaptation and mitigation is "what sets Bernie's [Green New Deal] apart...[it] doesn't confuse foisting made-in-the USA tech on the world [with] wealth redistribution."

Sanders is the only choice on climate. He is getting it right because his plan is better, and his plan is better because of specific and substantial ideological differences with Warren. This should put to rest suggestions that those differences are inconsequential; for those who take the threat of climate change seriously, they are some of the most consequential differences of this election.