Democratic presidential candidate and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro speaks on stage during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.
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Democratic presidential candidate and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro speaks on stage during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Watch CNN’s live town hall on the climate crisis featuring 10 Democratic presidential candidates tonight beginning at 5 p.m. ET.

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Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro released on Tuesday his plan to combat climate change, outlining the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate’s approach to what he calls the “greatest existential threat to our future” ahead of his appearance at CNN’s climate crisis town hall on Wednesday in New York.

Castro’s plan – titled “People and Planet First Plan” – aims to “direct $10 trillion in federal, state, local, and private investments” over the next 10 years. The Castro campaign estimates that the influx of investment will create 10 million jobs over a decade.

But Castro’s plan also focuses on the racial impacts of climate change, citing a series of studies that found those most directly impacted by issues like toxic waste, asthma and pollution are more likely to be people of color and more vulnerable communities.

“This crisis is the greatest existential threat to our future, but we have the power to mobilize the greatness of America,” Castro writes.

Castro also outlines a detailed timeline for how the United States will move toward carbon neutrality. By 2030, the Castro campaign states, all coal-generated electricity will be phased out and replaced by zero-emission sources and all new light and medium duty vehicles will be zero-emissions. Those standards increase over the next decade: By 2045, the United States will be net-zero emissions and by 2050, Castro forecasts, the world will be net-zero carbon emissions, led by the United States.

A campaign spokesman said the plan would be paid for with a new carbon pollution fee, a restart of the Superfund tax and making “polluters pay.” Additionally, the proposed programs would have revenue, the spokesman said. Finally, previous proposed taxes – the inheritance tax and wealth inequality tax – would help pay for the plan, as well as the eliminating the Trump tax cuts.

The 10 candidates who have qualified for September’s debate hosted by the Democratic National Committee will gather on Wednesday in New York for a series of climate change town halls hosted by CNN. The issue has been central in the 2020 Democratic primary, with polls regularly ranking climate change among the top concerns for the country.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who dropped out in August after failing to garner enough support in the polls to qualify for the September debates, ran almost entirely on combatting climate change and pushed the other candidates on the issue throughout his Democratic bid.

Castro’s plan mimics some of what Inslee proposed earlier this year and a Castro aide told CNN that his team spoke with Inslee’s policy team about the plan.

Castro also pledged if he is elected president to create a National Climate Council, an organization that would coordinate the federal government’s response to climate change; invest $200 billion in a Green Infrastructure Fund to “invest in physical infrastructure such as smart grids and electric vehicle charging stations,” and – in a bid to combat deforestation – plant 30 billion trees by 2050, or roughly 1 billion trees as year.

While Castro’s plan focuses on the technical aspects of fighting climate change – for example, he proposes the United States “immediately stop the exploration and extraction of fossil fuels on public lands and end all taxpayer subsidies of fossil fuel production” – the presidential candidate also proposes an increased focused on how climate change most impacts vulnerable communities.

“The problem is that, like our neighborhoods, pollution is segregated,” Castro writes in his proposal, noting a 2007 study that found more than half of the 9 million people living close to hazardous waste were black.

Castro states in the plan that within his first 100 days, he will “propose new civil rights legislation to address the disparate impact of environmental discrimination and dismantle structures of environmental racism.”

“In my administration, we will invest in environmental justice and climate resilience with an emphasis on frontline communities,” Castro writes, “people who are at the forefront of combating climate change, and families who have borne the unequal burden of pollution.”