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3 Ways to Tell if Your Local Politician Is Serious About Climate Change

Insights + Opinion

We're at one of those moments in the climate fight when things could go either way. In DC, of course, it's going badly: Trump and his crew are wrecking every federal effort to help reduce emissions—heck, they're even making sure we have no satellites to monitor the destruction.


But to every action, a reaction—and states and cities are beginning to step up to fill the void. This trend will increase: politicians read poll numbers, and those show that most Americans hate what's happening to the environment.

So politicians are speaking out. But at this point we need more than nice rhetoric, more than empty pledges to "live up to the Paris accords."

As I write in this week's Rolling Stone, we need real, measurable commitments. It's time, in particular, for politicians to:

1. Stop new fossil fuel infrastructure. If you're serious about Paris, that means realizing we're already overshooting the temperature targets we set there—there's literally no more room in the carbon budget for more pipelines, more frack fields, more coal ports. If France's new president can put an end to exploration for oil and gas, so can our leaders.

2. Commit to 100% renewables. Not to "more solar panels," but to powering our cities and states with sun and wind, and soon. Already cities from Atlanta to Salt Lake to San Diego have made the pledge; California's state senate has already passed such a bill. 100% is the most important number we've got.

3. Recognize that natural gas is as bad an enemy as coal or oil. This has been America's greatest climate mistake in recent years: we've driven down our carbon emissions by driving up the methane that natural gas production pours into the atmosphere, meaning we're making no progress. And all that cheap fracked gas is holding back the conversion to actual clean energy. It's got to stop.

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