Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Biden’s Reported ‘Middle Ground’ Climate Policy Doesn’t Go Far Enough, Advocates Say

Politics
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden addresses a crowd at the Hyatt Park community center on May 4 in Columbia, South Carolina. Sean Rayford / Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden has not released a detailed climate policy since he entered the Democratic presidential primary race a little more than two weeks ago. But two sources close to his campaign told Reuters Friday that he is crafting a policy that would serve as a "middle ground" between environmental advocates and blue-collar workers who voted for President Donald Trump.


That policy would include:

  1. Re-entering the Paris agreement.
  2. Preserving Obama-era emission and fuel efficiency regulations that the Trump administration is attempting to roll back.
  3. Supporting nuclear energy and fossil-fuel options like natural gas and carbon capture technology.

Scientists, environmental advocates and fellow primary contenders immediately criticized the plan as out of step with the most recent science on climate change, such as last October's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that says global greenhouse gas emissions must fall by nearly half by 2030 years to avoid more than 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels.

"Biden calls on physics, chemistry to meet him halfway," 350.org Founder Bill McKibben responded in a tweet.

Commentators noted that Biden's plan amounted to restoring Obama-era climate policy after attacks by the Trump administration, but that climate science in the years since Obama left office had shown that policy to no longer be enough to meet the threat posed by climate change.

"Reheating the Obama administration's regulations-plus-Paris approach will be totally insufficient," climate scientist and Niskanen Center policy expert Joseph Majkut told The Huffington Post.

More than half of Biden's primary opponents have backed a more ambitious Green New Deal to transition the U.S. from fossil fuels to renewable energy within 10 years while supporting green jobs and promoting equality, Reuters noted. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, all of whom back the Green New Deal, explicitly criticized Biden's reported "middle ground" approach, The Huffington Post reported.

Inslee, who has focused his campaign primarily on fighting climate change, was the first to respond.

"[T]he times and science have changed. We cannot simply go back to the past; we need a bold climate plan for our future," he said, according to Reuters.

Biden campaign spokesperson TJ Ducklo declined to comment to Reuters on the specifics of Biden's forthcoming climate plan, but said the candidate had called climate change an "existential threat."

In a Twitter thread Friday, Biden repeated the claim that climate change was an "existential threat."

"We need policies that reflect this urgency. I'll have more specifics on how America can lead on climate in the coming weeks," he said.

One of the sources Reuters drew on for its report, Heather Zichal, who advised Obama on climate and is now advising Biden, said the middle-of-the-road approach was based on her experience with the Obama administration.

"I respect where they (activist groups) are coming from," Zichal told Reuters. "What we learned from the Obama administration is unless we find middle ground on these issues, we risk not having any policies."

However, in a tweet Friday Zichal said that "Reuters got it wrong."

I expect as president @JoeBiden would enact a bold policy to tackle climate change in a meaningful and lasting way," she wrote.

McKibben, in an op-ed for The Guardian, cast doubt on Zichal's follow-up statement and her suitability as a climate adviser, saying that she had headed an inter-agency group during the Obama administration that focused on promoting domestic natural gas development. After leaving the administration in 2013, she joined the board of fracked gas exporter Cheniere Energy.

McKibben called on Biden to change course.

"If he's going to mount a serious challenge to Trump, he's going to need the huge number of Americans for whom climate change has become the issue. On the biggest issue our civilization's ever faced, we need him thinking like it's 2030, not 2010," he wrote.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Zak Smith

It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Hector Chapa

With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.

But can these masks be effective?

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jörg Carstensen / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

Bayer AG is reneging on negotiated settlements with several U.S. law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs who claim exposure to Monsanto's Roundup herbicides caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sources involved in the litigation said on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Tom Werner / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

With many schools now closed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, you may be looking for activities to keep your children active, engaged, and entertained.

Although numerous activities can keep kids busy, cooking is one of the best choices, as it's both fun and educational.

Read More Show Less
In Germany's Hunsrück village of Schorbach, numerous photovoltaic systems are installed on house roofs, on Sept. 19, 2019. Thomas Frey / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Germany's target for renewable energy sources to deliver 65% of its consumed electricity by 2030 seemed on track Wednesday, with 52% of electricity coming from renewables in 2020's first quarter. Renewable energy advocates, however, warned the trend is imperiled by slowdowns in building new wind and solar plants.

Read More Show Less