WASHINGTON -- Any plan to adequately address climate change would likely cost at least $10 trillion, freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday as she responded to a flurry of climate proposals from Democratic presidential candidates.
The New York Democrat, a co-author of the Green New Deal, is seen as an influential voice on climate policy, especially among Democrats. The Green New Deal would shift the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal and replace them with renewable sources such as wind and solar power.
Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Ocasio-Cortez for the first time offered a price tag for efforts to address climate change. While acknowledging the figure "is a ton" of money, she said, "I think we really need to get to $10 trillion to have a shot" at real progress in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
"I don't think anyone wants to spend that amount of money," she added. "It's not a fun number to say. I'm not excited to say we need to spend $10 trillion on climate, but ... it's just the fact of the scenario."
President Donald Trump and other Republicans have dismissed the Green New Deal as a government takeover of the economy that could bankrupt the nation with an unrealistic goal of obtaining net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
American Action Forum, a Republican-linked think tank, has estimated that the Green New Deal could cost $51 trillion to $93 trillion over 10 years, a figure the plan's supporters dispute.
Ocasio-Cortez said she's encouraged by climate plans from Democratic presidential candidates, particularly those by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
"Jay Inslee's I think is the gold standard climate plan that we have right now," Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill on Tuesday. "It's got the scale, the jobs and justice."
Inslee calls for $3 trillion in federal spending over a decade, while Warren would spend $2 trillion for green manufacturing. Former Vice President Joe Biden urges $1.7 trillion in federal spending over the next decade. Biden says his plan could be leveraged with $3 billion in private spending to allow the U.S. to virtually eliminate carbon pollution by 2050 — 20 years later than the timeframe set out by the Green New Deal.
"I think the entire field of climate plans still needs to be pushed," Ocasio-Cortez told reporters Wednesday. "I think it just needs to be pushed in terms of the scientific scale ... in what we need to solve this problem."
Ocasio-Cortez, who has become a frequent target of Republican scorn on Capitol Hill and cable news, said she knows her call to spend $10 trillion on climate change "is not politically popular" in either party.
"People are going to call it unrealistic, and I just don't think people understand how bad the problem is," she said.