Pete Buttigieg unveils climate change plan that would cost more than $1 trillion and aim to create 3 million clean energy jobs

Key Points
  • Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg's climate change plan calls for net-zero emissions by 2050 and creating over 3 million jobs in the next decade.
  • Buttigieg's plan calls for investment in green technology R&D, as well as shoring up local communities from the effects of climate change.
  • Buttigieg's plan is much more modest than those of rivals Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who have proposals call for spending $2 trillion to $16 trillion.
COLUMBIA, SC - JUNE 22: Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg addresses the crowd at the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Sean Rayford | Getty Images

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday unveiled a climate change plan that would include more than $1 trillion in federal investment, with a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and creating over 3 million clean energy and infrastructure jobs in the next decade.

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor's plan contains three pillars:

  • building a clean economy by creating clean energy jobs, strengthening rural communities and protecting natural resources;
  • investing in disaster relief and prevention in vulnerable communities;
  • building America's role on the international stage in combating climate change.

The campaign said the plan would include between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion in federal investment.

The proposal includes a $200 billion investment over 10 years in clean energy research and development, the creation of a $250 billion Clean Energy Bank to finance innovative technologies, a $250 billion fund matched with $250 billion in private investment with American companies to lead development of green technologies and a $50 billion seed fund for riskier and experimental ideas.

Buttigieg is polling at 4.7% behind rivals Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, according to a RealClearPolitics average. He released his plan ahead of Wednesday night's "Climate Crisis" town hall, where candidates will each have 40 minutes to explain their environmental policies in front of a live audience. Buttigieg is scheduled to be interviewed on his proposal at 10 p.m. ET.

Buttigieg's plan emphasizes the role of local and state government in resisting climate change, providing grants to his "Regional Resilience Hubs" and the creation of a "Climate Summit" of governors, mayors and others.

The plan outlines a $200 billion transitional fund over 10 years for displaced workers and the renovation of existing plants and assembly lines in the creation of low-carbon products. It calls for an economy-wide price on carbon, set to automatically rise every year, as well as more investment in carbon capture and direct air capture of carbon dioxide.

Buttigieg is not the first to suggest carbon capture investment. Frontrunner Biden's plan also emphasized the idea, which some critics have suggested only serves to extend the relevance of fossil fuel companies.

On the international stage, Buttigieg plans to reinstate America in the Paris climate agreement, invest $5 billion in climate mitigation strategies worldwide and take a bigger role in international bodies such as the Arctic Council.

Buttigieg, the only millennial candidate in the presidential race, has also called for the creation of a "U.S. Climate Corps" open to high school graduates dedicated to educating communities and rebuilding infrastructure to make it more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Buttigieg's net-zero emissions goal bears significant similarities to the other Democratic candidates in the field, who have formulated much of their platforms from the Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

Buttigieg's role for federal investment is much more modest in comparison with proposals from Sanders and Warren.

Sanders has proposed the largest federal investment in combating climate change, laying out his plan for a $16.3 trillion outlay over 15 years in renewable energy and public infrastructure.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who dropped out of the race last week, had been the next closest candidate, with her proposal for a $10 trillion "moonshot" plan for the next decade.

Warren's plan proposes a federal investment totaling more than $2 trillion over 10 years, while Biden's plan offers a $1.7 trillion federal investment paired with local and state contributions totaling more than $5 trillion.

This story has been updated to include updated figures from the Buttigieg campaign.