DES MOINES — The consequences of inaction are far more severe than the costs of prevention when it comes to climate change, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Saturday in Iowa. Democratic presidential candidate Sanders hosted a “climate summit” with the New York congresswoman on the Drake University campus. More than 2,000 people attended. A similar event drew more than 2,400 in Council Bluffs, the campaign said.
The costs of inaction on climate change are far greater the costs of fighting it, both Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez said.
“They say a Green New Deal is expensive. And they’re right. It is: $16 trillion over a 10-year period,” Sanders said. “But I want you to tell me: What is the alternative in terms of saving the planet?”
Scientists say Earth’s temperatures are rising in large part because of human activity, especially related to fossil fuels and the release of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Sanders’ proposals for addressing climate change include reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030 and a carbon-free economy by 2050, helping fossil fuel industry workers displaced by the shift, creating 20 million climate-related jobs, and investing in sustainable agriculture, among other ideas.
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The Sanders campaign says the plan would pay for itself over time through taxe and fees on the fossil fuel industry, new revenue from new jobs, taxes on wealthy individuals and large corporations, and reduced military spending because of a reduced need for foreign oil.
“When it comes to a Green New Deal, people say, always, always, always with this question of how are you going to pay for it? As though we’re not paying for it now,” said Ocasio-Cortez, who has endorsed Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary. “As though the Midwest wasn’t under water this year. As though 3,000 Americans didn’t die in Puerto Rico in Hurricane Maria. As though Hurricane Katrina didn’t happen. As though sea levels aren’t rising. As though California isn’t on fire. How do we pay for that?”
Sanders criticized Republican president Donald Trump for repeatedly denying the science of climate change and for withdrawing the U.S. from global leadership on the issue.
“What we are here to say is that we have an unprecedented global crisis, and the leadership of the United States of America should not be denying that reality. It should be bringing the entire world together to address it,” Sanders said.