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Beto O'Rourke rolls out climate plan with $1.5 trillion federal investment

Beto O'Rourke's campaign kick-off

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke announced a climate plan that would include a federal investment of $1.5 trillion over 10 years, in what his campaign is calling the "largest investment in fighting climate change in history." The first major policy proposal put forward by the former Texas congressman, O'Rourke's campaign laid out a four-part plan to address climate change, what he calls "the greatest threat we face."

"We have one last chance to unleash the ingenuity and political will of hundreds of millions of Americans to meet this moment before it's too late." O'Rourke said. "The actions we're announcing today will help us get there."

The plan, released Monday, claims the initial $1.5 trillion investment would spur $5 trillion in infrastructure, innovation and communities most at risk to the effects of climate change. O'Rourke is also calling to increase pre-disaster mitigation grants ten-fold, saying the grants would save $6 for every $1 invested. 

Funding for the bill would come from taxes levied on the wealthy and corporations and ending tax breaks given to fossil fuel companies. The O'Rourke campaign says the investment will "drive economic growth and shared prosperity – spurring job creation and adding to our GDP." The plan also calls for expanding coverage to the federal crop insurance program.

According to the O'Rourke campaign, the framework would call for a series of Executive Actions on the first day of an O'Rourke administration including a commitment for the United States to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement, reversing President Donald Trump's decision to withdrawal in June 2017.

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To limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius, O'Rourke's plan calls for Congress to enact a legally enforceable standard, within his first 100 days, which would achieve the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.  This is the same goal presented in the Green New Deal, proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-New York, and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts. Upon joining the crowded Democratic field, O'Rourke said the Green New Deal was the best proposal he'd seen that addresses issue of climate change.

David Hayes was the former Deputy Secretary of the Interior under President Barack Obama and is currently the Executive Director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the NYU School of Law and he says this plan recognizes the size and threat climate change poses to the world.

"This is a very serious comprehensive and detailed roadmap to deal with climate change that differs in nature and scope from any of the other candidates." Hayes said.

O'Rourke is to continue addressing this issue in Central Valley California, an area heavily affected by the impacts of climate change. The O'Rourke campaign says, "Beto will continue listening to and learning from Americans about their ideas to fight climate change and outline additional elements supporting his framework in the months ahead."