Kamala Harris Gets a D- For Her Climate Plan

Paul Kitagaki Jr./ZUMA

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Kamala Harris has released her climate plan, and I’m sorry to say that it’s a dog’s breakfast. I don’t really even want to evaluate it, but I suppose I have to. Here are the highlights:

  • I have no idea how big it is. Harris says her plan calls for “$10 trillion in public and private funding,” which is meaningless except to get her headlines that call it a $10 trillion plan. The only thing that matters is direct public spending, and she doesn’t put a number to that.
  • “Pillar 1” of her plan—presumably the most important part—is “A Foundation for Justice.” I’m all for justice, but it has little to do with keeping the planet from burning up.
  • Pillar 2 is “Holding Polluters Accountable.” Getting revenge on oil companies is lovely, I’m sure, but also does nothing to keep the planet from burning up.
  • Pillar 3 finally gets to climate-related proposals. Harris says she will generate 100 percent of our electricity with renewables by 2030, which is laughable, and get to a completely carbon-neutral economy by 2045. This frankly sounds more like lefty one-upmanship than a serious plan.
  • Pillar 3 is surprisingly hazy. It has lots of details, but only barely mentions buildout of solar and wind. Harris talks about electric buses and cash for clunkers and various tax credits, but says nothing about spending on renewable infrastructure, which is far more important.
  • There’s a small section about R&D, but it’s vague and, as usual, contains no actual dollar commitment. It does, however, contain stuff like this: “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.” Seriously?
  • There is nothing about nuclear either pro or con. Harris is apparently afraid of taking a stand on this.
  • Pillar 4, once again, has nothing to do with climate change.
  • Pillar 5 is “Asserting International Leadership.” This is good. It’s nice to see a significant chunk of her plan acknowledging that we have to do more than just reduce carbon emissions in America. The details of this are a little fuzzy, but I think that’s probably inevitable.

I hate to be so harsh toward a candidate that I like, but Harris’s plan reads to me more like a 10,000-word pander than the work of someone who has genuinely spent any time on climate change and takes it seriously.

I have updated my summary of all the Democratic climate plans here.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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