Former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer believes former Vice President Joe Biden is well-equipped to handle the climate crisis and its relationship to racial and economic justice.

“I am partnering with the Biden campaign on climate engagement. And if you notice, he has his policy platform, he has really sharpened his pencil and it has gotten a lot more fulsome and it is pretty progressive and forward-thinking at this point,” Steyer told uPolitics’ founder Erik Meers.

Biden’s official climate plan includes the goals of reaching net-zero emissions before 2050, building environmentally-friendly infrastructure, recommitting to the Paris Climate Agreement and ensuring that low-income communities, including Flint, Michigan, regain access to safe drinking water.

According to the Biden campaign, his plan “will be paid for by reversing the excesses of the Trump tax cuts for corporations, reducing incentives for tax havens, evasion, and outsourcing, ensuring corporations pay their fair share, closing other loopholes in our tax code that reward wealth not work, and ending subsidies for fossil fuels.”

Steyer, a billionaire philanthropist who founded the PAC NextGen Climate (now NextGen America) in 2013, has long advocated for environmental reforms. During his tenure as a presidential candidate, Steyer vowed to declare a national emergency over climate change,

Steyer continued to emphasize the need to keep environmental issues at the forefront of political discourse in the 2020 presidential election.

“One of the frustrations I had in the campaign was people seem to have a competition about the plans and the numbers associated with the plans,” he told uPolitics. He added, “Okay, let’s say you have a good plan. Where does it fall in your prioritization? Because if it’s not in the top three, it doesn’t matter. If you aren’t intending to do that right off the bat, I don’t believe you.”

He noted that even the past failures of the Obama Administration to push legislation protecting the environment through Congress, despite having a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate the first two years. The White House did, however, report low carbon dioxide emissions, increased wind and solar power and lowered U.S. oil imports under former President Barack Obama.

“If you look at the Obama administration, they had 60 seats in the Senate, they had the House, and they basically got one big thing done legislatively, which was the Affordable Care Act,” Steyer said. “Of course, then they lost the Senate and you know everything went haywire, but in two years they got one thing done.”

Steyer believes Biden will be able to effectively create climate change reforms because he was made it “either his top priority or a very, very top priority.”

“I’ve been doing a series of things with the campaign and I’ve been listening to the Vice President talk about it, and he is talking about this as either his top priority or a very, very top priority. He’s talking about, you know, 100% clean energy generation by 2035, and that’s good,” Steyer said. “He’s talking about this being a focus of his foreign policy…. He connects the need to get global emissions under control, with America getting its 15% under control and working with other countries to help them get theirs under control.”

One thing that the former candidate would like to see the presumptive Democratic nominee do more of, is to speak out on the issue specifically in black and Hispanic communities, which are often disproportionately affected by environmental injustices.

“One of the things I want is for the Vice President to get to talk directly to young people and black and brown communities on these topics, so they can see that he actually is fundamentally good on this and he cares, that he relates to this, it’s personal,” Steyer said. “This is something that he, in his bones, understands is critically important and is going to be a definer of his success.”

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