Following the recent announcement of his departure from the 2020 presidential campaign, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has left many of his supporters yearning to see a similarly progressive agenda from former Vice President Joe Biden. I understand the frustration his supporters feel when the candidate whose agenda we deem incomparable to Sanders’s has now become the only option for the Democratic vote in the upcoming presidential election. However, as we come to realize that the ideals of Biden and Sanders stem from the same Democratic principles, we should act on the promises that Biden’s campaign makes for climate change. In a world where political divisions resemble the separation between environmental prosperity and environmental destruction, we — as supporters of Sanders’s Green New Deal, as humans and as stewards of our future — should now turn to support Biden for President of the United States.

One of the most prominent similarities between Biden’s and Sanders’s approach to solving the climate crisis is utilizing the framework of the Green New Deal to enact the necessary changes for improving our society. For Sanders, the Green New Deal pushes for legislation during the next decade to factor climate change “into virtually every area of policy, from immigration to trade to foreign policy and beyond.” For Biden, the Green New Deal captures two defining truths for his campaign: “(1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected."

Both candidates’ approaches acknowledge how all people will be affected by green legislation that alters the landscape of the workforce. For Sanders, ensuring a just transition for all energy workers and for frontline communities is the first step toward addressing economic injustices in our country. For Biden, fulfilling an obligation to all workers affected by the national energy transition is a commitment that our government cannot relinquish. 

The bold agendas of both candidates promise confrontation with fossil fuel giants that have exploited communities across our country. For Sanders, it is imperative that the government holds accountable the fossil fuel corporations that “… knowingly destroyed our planet for short-term profits” throughout the past decades. For Biden, the government should not only reprimand the greed of the fossil fuel industry but also “develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color [and] low-income and indigenous communities.”

The most important comparisons between both candidates’ agendas are their commitments to 100 percent clean energy and net zero emissions by 2050. For Sanders, passing legislation like the Green New Deal would propel our nation to “… achieve 100 percent sustainable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and to fully decarbonize the economy by 2050 at the latest.” For Biden, his first year of presidency will be dedicated toward legislation that “1) establishes an enforcement mechanism that includes milestone targets no later than the end of his first term in 2025, 2) makes a historic investment in clean energy and climate research and innovation, 3) incentivizes the rapid deployment of clean energy innovations across the economy … ”

Though these comparisons exist between the outlooks of Sanders and Biden on the climate crisis, many of Sanders’s supporters still internalize disappointment in the idea that no politician’s outlook on one of the gravest issues of modern society will ever match the same drastic intention as Sanders’s outlook. In understanding that our greatest hope for a future will not be carried out at the level of influence executed by the presidency, we have to come to terms with the fact that Biden’s campaign is the next best option for the future. Biden will not easily replace the promise of Sanders’s climate plans, but he demonstrates substantive dedication and commitment toward the urgency of the climate issue among other political figures.

Above all, we have to understand that the alternative — four more years of permanent environmental degradation and disrespect under the Trump administration — is entirely unacceptable. We cannot succumb to President Donald Trump’s business-as-usual in spite of our reluctance to see completely eye to eye with Biden on all accounts. As a party, the most important action we can take is to unite to solve the issues that pose the biggest threat to our future. If we come together and acknowledge the compromises that need to be made for the greater good, we will see that we are truly more alike than we are unalike in our quest for happiness and justice. Furthermore, I urge you to support Biden in his presidential campaign for the promise that he guarantees to address the climate crisis. 

Kianna Marquez can be reached at kmarquez@umich.edu.

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