Bernie Sanders, Candidate With Most Ambitious Climate Plan, Drops out of 2020 Race
His announcement, made Wednesday morning during a conference call with his entire staff, means the more moderate former Vice President Joe Biden will face off against President Donald Trump in November, POLITICO reported. In a speech livestreamed to supporters, Sanders said his campaign had won the "ideological battle" on issues ranging from universal health care to climate action, but that he could see no clear way to secure the nomination.
"Together we have transformed American consciousness as to what kind of nation we can become, and have taken this country a major step forward in the never-ending struggle for economic justice, social justice, racial justice and environmental justice," he told his supporters, according to a transcript provided by The New York Times.
Today I am suspending my campaign. But while the campaign ends, the struggle for justice continues on. https://t.co/MYc7kt2b16— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1586360720.0
When Sanders first entered the race in February of 2019, he promised to release his own version of the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to transition the U.S. from fossil fuels to renewable energy while providing jobs and addressing inequality.
At $16.3 trillion spent over 15 years, Sanders' climate deal is by far the priciest of all the Democratic candidates left in the primary race. It's also arguably the most progressive — pushing for the US to have a carbon-free economy by 2050. The senator from Vermont also set a 2030 benchmark goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy in the country's two most carbon-intensive industries, transportation and the power sector, by investing in solar, wind, and geothermal power. Sanders' plan would also declare climate change a national emergency, bring the US back on board with the Paris climate agreement, and commit $200 billion in funding to help developing nations cut their emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.
But after early primary victories in New Hampshire and Nevada, Sanders began to falter beside the more moderate Biden, who won in South Carolina, and then in 10 out of 14 Super Tuesday states after other more moderate contenders threw their support behind him, POLITICO explained. Biden continued to do well throughout March, and now has 1,127 delegates compared to Sanders' 914, according to the most recent delegate count from The New York Times.
Biden's climate policies are more moderate than Sanders' as of now. His plan has a much lower price tag of $1.7 trillion dollars and a score of 72 out of 100 from Greenpeace. The organization applauded his commitment to achieving climate neutrality by 2050, investing in clean energy and restoring international climate leadership, but faulted him for not promising to ban all oil and gas drilling on public lands and to end all federal permits for fossil fuel infrastructure.
There is a chance Biden will ultimately run on a more ambitious plan, however. Sanders said he would keep his name on the ballot in the remaining primaries to boost his delegate count in order to have more influence over the party platform.
The Biden campaign is also working to bring in Sanders' supporters by incorporating some of his policies, The New York Times reported. In a virtual fundraiser Wednesday, Biden hinted he would add some more progressive ideas to his climate plan, and POLITICO reports he is in talks with the Sunrise Movement.
The Sunrise Movement is also one of a coalition of youth-led groups that sent a letter to Biden urging him to endorse certain policies including a Green New Deal.
.@JoeBiden is now the presumptive Democratic nominee. But he wasn’t able to win over the vast majority of voters u… https://t.co/VXaw3P2lQv— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@Sunrise Movement 🌅)1586384079.0
"If Joe Biden is going to be the nominee on the Democratic side, we are going to champion Joe Biden and put all muscle behind" his election, Sunrise Movement Executive Director Varshini Prakash told The New York Times. But then she addressed Biden directly, suggesting he also had work to do. "You haven't earned our vote yet," she said.
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By Peter Giger
The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.
A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
By John R. Platt
The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.
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