Robert Redford Calls on President Obama to Keep His Promise on Climate Change
Weather forecasters are saying this summer could deliver above-average temperatures to much of America. If conditions are anything like last year, we could be facing intense heat waves, costly fires and prolonged drought.
This pattern is becoming all too common. Climate change has super-charged the weather, and no matter where we live, every American ends up paying a price: the government spent nearly $100 billion to respond to last year’s storms, floods, drought and fires. That’s more than $1,100 per average U.S. taxpayer.
We cannot let climate change continue to threaten our communities and our economy. In a powerful new tv and online ad campaign, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Trustee Robert Redford singles out the most effective tool for tackling this crisis right now—presidential leadership.
The good news is President Obama can start making big reductions in global warming pollution today. Under the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can set standards to curb carbon pollution from its largest source—coal-fired power plants. Even while Congress remains paralyzed, the president can move forward and reduce carbon pollution by 26 percent and generate up to $60 billion in public health and climate benefits by 2020.
President Obama believes we have a duty to confront this crisis. I had the honor of attending the Inauguration in January and heard him tell the nation, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
These are powerful words, but it has been 142 days since the Inauguration, and we haven’t seen any new initiatives from the President that reflect his rhetoric or even begin to tap the power of the presidency. As Redford says in the video, “I just hope the president has the courage of his convictions.”
I welcome this call to action from a respected and dedicated clean energy advocate. Redford has been engaged in the climate fight for decades, since he first organized a conference for Russian and American climate scientists back in the 1980s. He knows we can’t afford to delay any longer. Scientists recently reported that the level of carbon in the atmosphere has passed 400 parts per million. Experts warn that we must keep this level from soaring past 450 parts per million to avoid catastrophic climate change. If we want to turn the tide, we must embrace the clean energy solutions Redford describes in the video and we must do it now.
This is the time for decisive leadership, and President Obama showed in his first term that he is capable of it. Last year, he raised raise automobile fuel efficiency to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon—on average—by 2025. These standards will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and cut carbon pollution from new cars in half. He also proposed the first-ever carbon limits on new power plants.
But the administration has missed the legal deadline for finalizing that standard and failed to articulate a climate plan for his second term. Now the president needs to act. He can start by cleaning up the carbon pollution belching from existing power plants. If the president reduces emissions from both our vehicles and our power fleet he will have addressed two-thirds of America’s carbon pollution, and he will be able to put America on a path toward stabilizing the climate. This would be a tremendous legacy—one celebrated for generations to come.
But such a legacy will be built on deeds, not promises. NRDC is pressing the White House to commit to a concrete climate action plan and to kick it off by directing the EPA to curb carbon pollution from power plants.
You can help. Join Robert Redford and other concerned citizens in asking President Obama to make a stable climate and a clean energy system part of his lasting contribution to our nation. Ask President Obama to act on climate now and tell Congress to expedite renewable energy.
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.