By Julia Conley
With Democrats anxious about the probability that President-elect Joe Biden will be forced to grapple with a Republican-led Senate after taking office in January, a coalition of more than a dozen climate action groups are calling on Biden to take every possible step he can to help solve the planetary emergency without the approval of Congress.
Even in the face of a Senate controlled by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Republican Party, Biden can and must still be a "Climate President," say the groups, which include the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth.
The organizations originally released the Climate President plan nearly a year ago during the Democratic primary, and are now calling on Biden to take "ten steps in [his] first ten days in office" to help "form the necessary foundation for the country's true transformation to a safer, healthier, and more equitable world for everyone."
"If the world is to have any reasonable chance of staying below 1.5°C and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, the next president of the United States must demonstrate national and global leadership and take immediate and decisive action to launch a rapid and just transition off of fossil fuels economy-wide," reads the website set up by the coalition, ClimatePresident.org. "Recognizing the steps that the next president can take without any additional action from Congress is critical because these are the 'no excuses' actions that can be taken immediately to set the nation on a course to zero emissions."
Proponents of the Climate President action plan on social media emphasized that Biden is capable of taking major "game-changing" steps to begin mitigating the planetary emergency."
"Let him know you expect no less," tweeted author and activist Naomi Klein.
Don't let anyone tell you that Biden's hands are tied on climate action without the Senate. Here is a list of game-… https://t.co/LyOyaXD6vl— Naomi Klein (@Naomi Klein)1604941732.0
What can a new #ClimatePresident Biden do without Congress to tackle the climate emergency? He can move progress… https://t.co/LOjvxRXqlp— Jean Su (@Jean Su)1604944626.0
The organizations list 10 action items which would help the Biden White House single-handedly put the U.S. on the path to meaningfully fighting the climate crisis:
- Declare a national climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act, which would "unlock specific statutory powers to help accomplish the necessary response." Biden would be able to direct federal agencies to reverse all of President Donald Trump's regulatory rollbacks.
- Keep fossil fuels in the ground, halting fossil fuel permits and lease sales, banning fracking on federal lands, and issuing stringent pollution rules for oil and gas companies.
- Stop fossil fuel exports and infrastructure approvals through executive orders.
- Shift financial flows from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources through an executive order that would promote new investments and phase out old ones.
- Using the Clean Air Act, set a science-based national pollution cap.
- Power the electricity sector with 100% clean and renewable energy by 2030. Pursuant to the National Emergencies Act, Biden could direct the secretary of defense to redirect a portion of military spending to carry out a rapid construction program of renewable energy projects to meet a significant portion of the nation's power needs. The president-elect could also provide loan guarantees to clean energy developers and utilities that use renewable energy.
- Issue an executive order creating an inter-agency just transition task force to implement a national program guaranteeing support for communities and workers affected by the halting of fossil fuel extraction.
- Direct federal agencies assess and mitigate environmental harms that disproportionately impact Indigenous, Black, brown, and low-income communities.
- Investigate and prosecute fossil fuel polluters and commit to vetoing all legislation that grants legal immunity to big polluters.
- Rejoin the Paris climate agreement and increase the United States' emissions reduction commitment to slash greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by at least 70% by 2030 and reduce them to near zero by 2040.
The president-elect has said he plans to immediately reenter the Paris agreement upon taking office. After the Democratic presidential primary, his campaign team worked closely with advisers from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's and Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) campaigns to hammer out a plan which called for the elimination of carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035 and pledged $2 trillion over four years to increase and incentivize the use of renewables to power cars, homes, and businesses. Biden's original climate plan during the primary had pledged $1.7 trillion and aimed to make the U.S. carbon neutral by 2050.
"The first steps that would put us clearly on a path to a regenerative and inclusive society can be launched immediately by the next president," said the Climate President coalition. "These ten actions form the necessary foundation for the country's true transformation to a safer, healthier, and more equitable world for everyone."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Biden Defeats Trump, Promises Sea Change on Climate and ... ›
- Biden Reaffirms Commitment to Rejoining Paris Agreement ... ›
- Biden Can Leverage Larger Trends to Make Climate Progress ›
When former Vice President Joe Biden effectively clinched the Democratic nomination in April, one major concern for the climate movement was the fact that his plan for tackling the issue was less ambitious than that of some of his primary rivals.
But Biden signaled a willingness to boost his climate platform. And now, Green-New-Deal champion Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has agreed to serve on a panel helping him shape his plan to address the climate crisis.
"She made the decision with members of the Climate Justice community — and she will be fully accountable to them and the larger advocacy community during this process," a representative of the Congresswoman told Reuters by email Tuesday. "She believes the movement will only be successful if we continue to apply pressure both inside and outside the system."
Ocasio-Cortez has made a name for herself in Congress as an advocate for a Green New Deal to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels while providing jobs and supporting greater equality. In the primaries, she endorsed Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whose climate plan promised $16.3 trillion for a Green New Deal-type mobilization and earned a 94 out of 100 on Greenpeace's climate scorecard. Biden's initial plan, meanwhile, promised only $1.7 trillion and earned a 72 from Greenpeace.
But when Sanders, the last major primary contender to drop out, endorsed Biden, the campaign announced a series of task forces that would work to bring together supporters of the two candidates on issues from health care to criminal justice to the economy, CNN explained. It is the climate-centered of these task forces that Ocasio-Cortez will be serving on, as Biden himself confirmed in an interview with News8 in Las Vegas Tuesday.
"I'm working with Bernie and with his people. And so, and we've made some changes. We've listened to Bernie supporters and, you know, for example, we have Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, she is on one of the panels," Biden said.
A source with direct knowledge of the matter told CNN that Ocasio-Cortez would actually be co-chairing the panel.
Ocasio-Cortez spokeswoman Lauren Hitt told NBC News the Congresswoman would be representing Sanders on the panel.
When the panels were first announced, Sanders explained them as a way to unify the Democratic party's progressive and moderate wings.
"It's no great secret out there, Joe, that you and I have our differences, and we're not going to paper them over. That's real," Sanders said, as CNN reported. "But I hope that these task forces will come together utilizing the best minds and people in your campaign and in my campaign to work out real solutions to these very, very important problems."
Biden told News8 he was reaching out to Sanders supporters, but said their positions were not as far as voters may have believed.
"My message to all — and what they're finding out now that the nomination process is de facto over, they're finding out the positions I had on an awful lot of things were not accurately characterized and they're feeling more comfortable with it," Biden said, as NBC News reported. "But I'm listening. I'm here, I need them, and I hope they all will join us."
President Donald Trump, who Biden will be running against in November, has not taken any steps to address the climate crisis and has a Greenpeace score of zero.
"Trump denies the reality of the climate crisis and is actively promoting fossil fuels while weakening existing climate protections. His Cabinet is filled with former coal and oil lobbyists. Trump gets an 'F' for putting our most vulnerable communities — and our very futures — at risk," Greenpeace wrote.
- Harris and AOC Introduce Climate Equity Act to Protect Frontline ... ›
- Sanders, AOC Promote Green New Deal at Largest Iowa ... ›
- Climate Activists Prepare for November Election - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Activists Prepare for November Election - EcoWatch ›
- Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate and Green Recovery Plan - EcoWatch ›
- Biden Can Leverage Larger Trends to Make Climate Progress ›
- Greenpeace Releases Sweeping Policy Plans to Fight Inequality, Racial Injustice, COVID-19 and Climate Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Biden Considers Obama-Era EPA Chief, Others for Key Climate Positions - EcoWatch ›
- For a Path Forward on Climate, Let’s Learn From the Original New Deal - EcoWatch ›
- Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Bush Introduce Green New Deal for Cities ›
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
By Jake Johnson
After President Donald Trump on Monday suggested a COVID-19 vaccine could be fully developed and put to market "before a very special day" — apparently referring to the Nov. 3 presidential election — Sen. Bernie Sanders warned that Trump's ongoing politicization of the vaccine process threatens to undermine public trust and safety.
"I think you got a president who's losing it, and I think most people are sick and tired of the ranting and the ravings of Donald Trump," the Vermont senator said in an appearance on CNN late Monday. "Look, everybody wants a vaccine, but we want to make sure that that vaccine is safe. We don't want to see that vaccine put on the market for political reasons."
Sanders went on to urge doctors, scientists, and pharmaceutical companies to "do the right thing and get it onto the market, get it into people's arms when it is ready, not when it suits the political purposes of this increasingly irrational president."
"Let's not politicize this thing. We have developed vaccines for decade after decade after decade. We have to give the resources to the doctors and the scientists to do their work," Sanders said. "We've got to make sure that vaccine undergoes the clinical trials that [are] necessary to make sure that it is safe."
“Let's not politicize this thing,” Sen. Bernie Sanders says about the coronavirus vaccine. “We have developed vaccines for decade after decade after decade. We have to give the resources to the doctors and the scientists to do their work." https://t.co/GqSF5xfRbd pic.twitter.com/jwJVMQo12i— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) September 7, 2020
The Vermont senator's remarks came hours after Trump claimed during a Labor Day press conference Monday that "we're going to have a vaccine very soon, maybe even before a very special day."
Asked whether he's pushing for speedy approval of a coronavirus vaccine for political gain, Trump said: "No, I'm saying that because we want to save a lot of lives. With me, it's the faster the better. With somebody else, maybe they would say it politically but I'm saying it in terms of this is what we need."
"Now," Trump continued, "do benefits inure if you're able to get something years ahead of schedule? I guess maybe they do."
"The faster, the better" -- Trump on a coronavirus vaccine pic.twitter.com/Lc83qixbp3— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 7, 2020
Federal officials have repeatedly cast doubt on the president's suggested timeline, saying there's little chance that a sufficiently tested vaccine will be ready ahead of the November election.
"I don't know any scientist involved in this effort who thinks we will be getting shots into arms any time before Election Day," one anonymous federal official familiar with Operation Warp Speed told CNN Monday, echoing the public statements of other officials involved with the vaccine development effort.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- CDC Tells States to Prepare for a Vaccine Before November Election ›
- Trump Orders Hospitals to Stop Sending COVID-19 Data to CDC ... ›
- U.S. Refuses to Join Global Coronavirus Vaccine Efforts - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine - EcoWatch ›
- White House Blocks FDA Guidelines for COVID-19 Vaccine - EcoWatch ›
- Johnson & Johnson Pauses COVID-19 Vaccine Trial After Mystery Illness - EcoWatch ›
By Julia Mahncke
U.S. President Donald Trump has undone many major pieces of climate policy during his term, walking out on the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming and eliminating numerous Obama-era environmental regulations.
Trump's Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, has promised as part of his presidential campaign to invest $1.7 trillion in a "clean energy revolution and environmental justice" over the next decade. It falls some $14 trillion short of what the progressive U.S. senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, pledged on climate action during the Democratic primaries.
However, climate change doesn't even make the top 10 concerns among registered voters, even as the U.S. faces extreme weather from wildfires to storms, which scientists say are becoming more prevalent thanks to global warming. The issue ranks 11th behind the economy, health care, Supreme Court appointments and the pandemic, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center published in August.
While climate change doesn't top the voters' agenda, it's still one of the most divisive issues among Trump and Biden supporters. Some 68% of Democratic voters see climate change as high priority compared to 11% of Republicans, found the Pew survey.
But what are the Biden and Trump campaigns promising to do on climate change and the environment — and how does it tally with what voters want?
Biden a Climate Disappointment?
Biden, Barack Obama's former vice president, plans to recommit to the Paris Accord and ensure that the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions by 2050. Biden has also promised a halt to fossil fuel subsidies, going further than the Democratic National Committee, the governing body of the Democrats, which dropped that demand from its platform earlier this month.
Prior to Kamala Harris' announcement as Biden's running mate, the California senator had been vocal in her support for bold climate action. Harris co-sponsored the New Green Deal, calling on Congress to implement a 10-year government-driven mobilization to decarbonize the economy, while also backing job retraining and social and environmental justice.
But some Democratic voters are disappointed with the Biden/Harris ticket, believing Sanders, who dropped out of the Democratic race for president in April, would have been the better candidate.
"I have two kids, so I have to be mindful and hopeful, but I lost a lot of hope since Bernie Sanders didn't get the bid," said Karen Antunes, as she wrapped up a picnic with her kids and little dog in Peninsula Park in Portland Oregon.
That won't stop her voting Democrat though.
"We have to. The Trump thing has got to end," added Antunes. "But I'm not excited."
Most progressive voters like Antunes might prefer to unite behind Biden against Trump's reelection even if they don't feel his commitment to climate change action goes far enough.
"I don't think the differences between Biden and Sanders on the environment — or any other issues — will matter much to Democratic voters compared to the difference between Biden and Trump," said Stephen Ansolabehere, director of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University.
Republicans: Economy Trumps Climate Change
Over the last few years, Trump has dismissed climate change as a "hoax," not human-caused, and called environmental activists "perennial prophets of doom."
The U.S. president's 63 bullet-point election agenda, which is divided into categories like "Jobs," "Eradicate COVID-19" and "End our reliance on China," makes no direct mention of climate change or the environment.
Instead, tucked away under the heading "Innovate for the future" toward the bottom of the list, there are two promises: "Continue to Lead the World in Access to the Cleanest Drinking Water and Cleanest Air" and "Partner with Other Nations to Clean Up our Planet's Oceans."
The plan outlines no path to clean water or air.
The lack of climate change mentions in Trump's agenda might please many Republican voters since they are "obviously less supportive of regulations," said Daron Shaw, a professor specializing in voting behavior at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the Fox News Poll.
"Democrats are much more willing to take stronger measures," said Shaw, adding that few Republicans support policies such as a significant carbon or fossil fuel tax. "But if you ask Republicans about recycling, if you ask about fuel efficiency standards, they're very supportive of those sorts of smallish behaviors."
Growing Impatience Among Young Republicans
Some younger Republicans are starting to become critical of their party's inattention to climate change. During the recent Republican National Convention, a small group turned to Twitter during the online event, to ask "#WhatAboutClimate"?
Another Pew study from June 2020 found that millennial and Gen Z Republicans, currently aged 18 to 39, are more likely than older GOP voters to think humans have a significant impact on the climate and that the federal government is doing too little to tackle the problem.
That doesn't mean they're ready to switch allegiance to the Democrats, though.
"Being a Republican is very much rooted in my upbringing," said Kiera O'Brien, who founded the group Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends (YCCD). "Conservatism at home in Ketchikan, Alaska, has a focus on community and nature."
O'Brien dislikes the Democrat's "regulatory approach to climate" and is instead lobbying for free market solutions to climate change through YCCD.
Reframing Climate Action
Environmental policies can be a complicated issue when it comes to federal elections and hard to address for presidential candidates. Many regions in the U.S. have unique challenges: from wildfires in California and storms wiping out harvests in Iowa to water pollution in Flint, Michigan.
Harvard's Ansolabehere also pointed out that opposition to climate policies in the past were typically connected to the fear of losing jobs and that prohibiting coal or retooling the auto industry will "adversely affect employment" in places like Kentucky and Michigan.
Daron Shaw added that Republicans typically "try to frame environmental issues as a matter of high taxation and job killing proposals with the hope that they can peel off Democrats."
Biden might be trying to assuage fears that tackling climate change means job losses by framing his plan as an opportunity for employment in new industries and a reinvigorated green manufacturing sector.
But when it comes to the swing states of Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio, Trump's climate record and support for jobs in the fossil fuel sector might give him the upper hand. His backing for ethane cracker plants, which take natural gas and converts it into the basis for making plastics, has received a lot of support, said Ansolabehere, especially from local unions.
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
- The Next Election Is About the Next 10,000 Years - EcoWatch ›
- How the Global Climate Fight Could Be Lost If Trump Is Re-Elected ›
- Climate Activists Prepare for November Election - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Denies Climate Science in California, Biden Labels Him a 'Climate Arsonist' - EcoWatch ›
By Julia Conley
Weeks after the Sunrise Movement launched a swing state mobilization campaign with a plan to reach more than 1.5 million voters before Election Day, climate campaigners are showing no sign of slowing down their Get Out the Vote efforts — sending the message to young Americans that voting President Donald Trump out of office is the crucial first step in a greater effort to "build our political power in Washington."
In a 12-minute ad released online Monday by the Sunrise Movement, former Bernie Sanders surrogate and climate activist Xiuhtexcatl Martinez begins by rejecting common tactics used for decades by political strategists and politicians to encourage young people to vote — from attempts to "make voting seem cool" through humor and celebrity endorsements, to efforts to shame them into going to the polls by accusing them of being "lazy and unengaged."
"While youth turnout has always been low, the stereotype that young people don't care about politics isn't true," says Martinez, one of 21 plaintiffs in Juliana vs. United States, in which teenagers and children sued the federal government for not protecting them from the climate crisis.
While young people are keenly aware of the issues facing their generation and are supportive of legislation to mitigate the planetary emergency, Martinez argues, their attempts to get involved in politics are often thwarted by a system rife with voter suppression and mass disenfranchisement.
"In the United States, the reality is that voting is not cool," Martinez says. "Cool would be a country that empowers its citizens to vote ... Cool would be a country where the candidate who gets the most votes wins the election. Cool would be a country where unpopular politicians couldn't dismantle basic voter protections just because they know they can't stay in office without disenfranchising young voters and people of color."
"Regardless, if enough young people vote, the odds dramatically shift," he adds.
Instead of imploring young voters to unquestioningly take part in a system in which those in power have frequently ignored their demands, Martinez and the Sunrise Movement frame the general election and the choice between President Donald Trump — who openly denies the existence of the climate crisis — and Democratic candidate Joe Biden as the "one-time choice that allows us to make more meaningful choices down the line."
"Young people have the power to crush Trump, and he knows it," the Sunrise Movement tweeted on Monday. "Once he's out, and we're still in the streets, our movement can set the tone for the next four years, just like movements past."
Young people have the power to crush Trump, and he knows it. That’s why he’s trying to steal the election, but we’r… https://t.co/hkOfXLCiJK— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@Sunrise Movement 🌅)1601917393.0
Martinez notes that Biden, who has angered climate action advocates in recent weeks by insisting that he has no intention of banning fracking and failing to fully embrace the call for a Green New Deal, has nevertheless shown signs of understanding that young voters and their priorities, including the climate, are not to be dismissed. In the ad, Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash explains how the task force set up by supporters of Biden and Sanders successfully pushed the Democratic candidate to adopt a more ambitious plan for decarbonization.
The ad compares Biden to former President Lyndon Johnson, who signed the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act into law after decades of voting against civil rights in Congress.
"Relentless activist movement" was behind the legislation Johnson signed in the 1960s, Martinez says. Facing civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis, he adds, "The narrative shifted and Johnson was forced to meet the moment. So while we do not approve of Biden's record or even some aspects of his platform, we must elect him and work tirelessly towards hearing him sing the songs of our movement."
"We have reached our most defining moment in electoral politics," Martinez says. "Our ability to push forward the agendas of our generation will be determined not only by how we vote going into November but how we mobilize the morning after the election."
The ad was released as 350.org launched its own GOTV effort in states including Colorado, California, Minnesota, and Washington. Thousands of staffers and volunteers with the organization's local chapters are working to make 350,000 calls to voters before Election Day, as well as text banking and sending postcards.
"We're ramping up our get out the vote efforts because we know that to effectively address the climate crisis, we need solutions across sectors that prioritize those most impacted — Black, Indigenous, communities of color, workers and low income communities," said Dominique Thomas, New York and Mid-Atlantic organizer for 350.org. "Climate justice and action cannot exist in a silo — we need leaders who see the interconnectedness of lowering emissions and cutting pollution with housing rights, economic justice, racial justice, and healthcare. This November, we're rising up to make sure our demands are heard."
Members of 350 Colorado aim to reach 130,000 voters in their state, while in California, 350 Bay Area Action is working with five partner organizations to target voters in Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Alaska, Arizona, and Colorado. The group has so far conducted 37 virtual phone banks in which 800 volunteers made 50,000 calls.
"Our volunteers know that the stakes in this election could not be higher. Our country will go one way or another in November. It is essential that we secure leadership that will protect the environment and the climate. There is simply no more time," said Marti Roach, lead organizer for the 350 Bay Area Action "Go Green, Vote Blue" phone bank campaign.
In the Sunrise ad, Martinez urged voters to "join our movement and get to work right away to send Trump and the Republicans a simple message: Get out of the way. We've got work to do."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- These Races Will Shape How U.S. Elections Affect Climate Progress ... ›
- Climate Activists Prepare for November Election - EcoWatch ›
- Young Republican Climate Activists Split Over November's Election ... ›
- The Power of Inclusive, Intergenerational Climate Activism - EcoWatch ›
- Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate and Green Recovery Plan ... ›
By Lisa Newcomb
As wildfires burn through California and the western United States, the Gulf Coast prepares for two potential hurricanes within a 48-hour timeframe, and record high temperatures dominate the summer, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday noted the resounding absence of any mention of the climate crisis during the first night of the Republican National Convention.
"You wouldn't know it if you watched the first night of the Republican National Convention, but we are in the middle of a climate emergency with scientists telling us we have just a few years to act in order to save our planet for future generations," Sanders said in an email to supporters Tuesday.
In what NowThis described as a "Carnival of Misinformation," the GOP managed to attack Sanders and other progressive political leaders Monday night, calling them "radical" and "Marxist," and to vilify the state of California—which has lost 1.4 million acres to wildfires so far this year—but failed to even mention climate or environmental concerns.
There wasn't a single mention of climate change during the #RNC2020 last night. But we know exactly where Trump and… https://t.co/AkNRbvDs6c— Climate Power (@Climate Power)1598376600.0
"Don't tell me the Green New Deal is radical," Sanders continued in his email. "What is radical is doing nothing to take on the existential threat of climate change while the world burns."
President Donald Trump criticized Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his state's wildfire mitigation strategies earlier this month, harkening to comments the president has made in the past about clearing forest floors of debris as the key to preventing the destruction caused across the west in recent years.
"I see again the forest fires are starting," the president said at a rally in Pennsylvania. "They're starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests—there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they're like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up." Trump went on to threaten withholding federal funds, though he did promise aid last weekend.
The president, a notorious denier of human-caused climate change, has called the crisis a "hoax invented by the Chinese."
"Here is the truth," Sanders wrote. "In the midst of everything going on right now, a global pandemic, an economic meltdown, a struggle for racial justice, and more, we simply cannot lose sight of the existential threat of climate change which puts at risk the very survival of this planet."
The senator from Vermont, a champion of the Green New Deal, warned that the time of incremental action in dealing with the climate crisis has passed.
"We cannot go far enough or be too aggressive on this issue," he said.
We cannot accept that our children and grandchildren must face worse fires, worse hurricanes, worse floods and more… https://t.co/5cVBtP0J6o— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1598281975.0
Sanders isn't the only one who noticed the RNC's dismissal of environmental and climate concerns Monday night. Conservative climate activist Benji Backer expressed his frustration on Twitter, saying he's "feeling as disenfranchised as ever."
I've dedicated my life to conservative politics...thousands of hours knocking doors/making phone calls. I've gone t… https://t.co/iUfcg0PSKb— Benji Backer (@Benji Backer)1598291360.0
Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), whom League of Conservation Voters gives a 3% rating on its environmental scorecard, told attendees at an unrelated event Monday that his party has to start taking the climate crisis seriously.
"As a conservative, I regret that we have let ourselves be branded as not caring about the Earth," Curtis said. "It's time to stop being on the defensive and go on the offensive."
He continued: "We don't need to destroy the U.S. economy to be successful. As a matter of fact, I believe a once-in-a-generation opportunity is in front of us."
But Curtis remains in the minority of Republican lawmakers, and, Sanders wrote, tackling the climate crisis is a duty we share as global citizens.
"We are custodians of the Earth," he wrote. "All of us. And it would be a moral disgrace if we left to future generations a planet and that was unhealthy, unsafe, and uninhabitable."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- DNC to Ban Fossil Fuel Company Donations - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Change Takes Center Stage at DNC ›
- Trump RNC Speech Silent on Climate Change, Continues Bitter ... ›
By Bill McKibben
To understand the planetary importance of this autumn's presidential election, check the calendar. Voting ends on November 3—and by a fluke of timing, on the morning of November 4 the United States is scheduled to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
President Trump announced that we would abrogate our Paris commitments during a Rose Garden speech in 2017. But under the terms of the accords, it takes three years to formalize the withdrawal. So on Election Day it won't be just Americans watching: The people of the world will see whether the country that has poured more carbon into the atmosphere than any other over the course of history will become the only country that refuses to cooperate in the one international effort to do something about the climate crisis.
Trump's withdrawal benefited oil executives, who have donated millions of dollars to his reelection campaign, and the small, strange fringe of climate deniers who continue to insist that the planet is cooling. But most people living in the rational world were appalled. Polling showed widespread opposition, and by some measures, Trump is more out of line with the American populace on environmental issues than any other. In his withdrawal announcement he said he'd been elected "to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris"; before the day was out, Pittsburgh's mayor had pledged that his city would follow the guidelines set in the French capital. Young people, above all, have despised the president's climate moves: Poll after poll shows that climate change is a top-tier issue with them and often the most important one—mostly, I think, because they've come to understand how tightly linked it is not just to their future but to questions of justice, equity, and race.
Here's the truth: At this late date, meeting the promises set in Paris will be nowhere near enough. If you add up the various pledges that nations made at that conference, they plan on moving so timidly that the planet's temperature will still rise more than 3 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels. So far, we've raised the mercury 1 degree Celsius, and that's been enough to melt millions of square miles of ice in the Arctic, extend fire seasons for months, and dramatically alter the planet's rainfall patterns. Settling for 3 degrees is kind of like writing a global suicide note.
Happily, we could go much faster if we wanted. The price of solar and wind power has fallen so fast and so far in the last few years that they are now the cheapest power on earth. There are plenty of calculations to show it will soon be cheaper to build solar and wind farms than to operate the fossil fuel power stations we've already built. Climate-smart investments are also better for workers and economic equality. "We need to have climate justice, which means to invest in green energy, [which] creates three times more jobs than to invest in fossil fuel energy," United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said in an interview with Covering Climate Now in September. If we wanted to make it happen, in other words, an energy revolution is entirely possible. The best new study shows that the United States could cut its current power sector emissions 80 percent by 2035 and create 20 million jobs along the way.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris haven't pledged to move that quickly, but their climate plan is the farthest-reaching of any presidential ticket in history. More to the point, we can pressure them to go farther and faster. Already, seeing the polling on the wall, they've adopted many of the proposals of climate stalwarts like Washington Governor Jay Inslee. A team of Biden and Bernie Sanders representatives worked out a pragmatic but powerful compromise in talks before the Democratic National Convention; the Biden-Harris ticket seems primed to use a transition to green energy as a crucial part of a push to rebuild the pandemic-devastated economy.
Perhaps most important, they've pledged to try to lead the rest of the world in the climate fight. The United States has never really done this. Our role as the single biggest producer of hydrocarbons has meant that our response to global warming has always been crippled by the political power of Big Oil. But that power has begun to slip. Once the biggest economic force on the planet, the oil industry is a shadow of its former self. (You could buy all the oil companies in America for less than the cost of Apple; Tesla is worth more than any other auto company on earth.) And so it's possible that the hammerlock on policy exercised by this reckless industry will loosen if Trump is beaten.
But only if he's beaten. Four more years will be enough to cement in place his anti-environmental policies and to make sure it's too late to really change course. The world's climate scientists declared in 2018 that if we had any chance of meeting sane climate targets, we had to cut emissions almost in half by 2030. That's less than 10 years away. We're at the last possible moment to turn the wheel of the supertanker that is our government. Captain Trump wants to steer us straight onto the rocks, mumbling all the while about hoaxes. If we let him do it, history won't forgive us. Nor will the rest of the world.
This story originally appeared in The Nation and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
With their podiums placed six feet apart as a precaution against the coronavirus, the two leading Democratic presidential primary candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off on public health and the climate crisis at the 11th Democratic debate.
Sunday's debate came two days after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to combat the new disease known as COVID-19, which has so far sickened nearly 165,000 people in 146 countries and led to 6,470 deaths. To help stop the spread of the virus, debate organizers CNN, Univision, the Democratic National Committee and the campaigns moved the venue from Phoenix, Arizona to CNN's studio in Washington, DC and broadcast the debate without an audience, as moderator Ilia Calderón of Univision explained in a debate transcript provided by Rev.
But the unusual set-up led to one of the most in-depth climate discussions to date, as Grist's Shannon Osaka pointed out.
"It only took 10 debates, a worldwide pandemic, and the winnowing of the Democratic field down to two men in their late 70s — but on Sunday night, for about 12 minutes, the American public finally got to hear a substantive debate about climate change," Osaka wrote.
But first the candidates were asked how they would respond to the new disease. Biden called for more testing and hospital beds to be made ready, and also spoke of the need to assist people impacted by the economic cost of the pandemic, such as providing interest-free loans to small businesses.
Sanders emphasized the need to ensure that no one would have to pay for treatment if they fell ill, called for more ventilators in hospitals and also spoke of the need for economic relief.
Sanders also criticized Trump for his misleading statements about the coronavirus, such as stating that Americans with the illness would be well enough to go to work.
"Well, first thing we have got to do, whether or not I'm president, is to shut this president up right now, because he is undermining the doctors and the scientists who are trying to help the American people," he said.
The first climate question came nearly 14 minutes into the second half of the debate. CNN's Jake Tapper asked the candidates how their climate plans would address the fact that the climate crisis is also a "health crisis" that could lead to the spread of infectious diseases, as the World Health Organization has warned.
However, neither candidate directly answered the question. Instead, both spoke in more general terms about the seriousness of the climate crisis and the need to act immediately, though Biden did mention that the crisis already had health costs.
"[T]here's an awful lot of people today who are in fact getting ill because of the changes in the environment," he said.
The debate then shifted to whose plan would tackle the crisis most effectively,
Tapper noticed the price-tag gap between Sanders' $16.3 trillion plan and Biden's $1.7 trillion plan.
"Is your plan ambitious enough to tackle this crisis?" Tapper asked.
Biden insisted it was, saying he would reinstate the environmental regulations rolled back under Trump, install 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations, rejoin the Paris agreement and work with other world leaders to provide $20 billion to Brazil to help protect the Amazon rainforest.
Sanders countered that Biden's plan was "nowhere near enough." He likened climate change to the threat posed by the coronavirus.
"[W]e started this debate talking about a warlike situation in terms of the coronavirus and we said, 'We have to act accordingly.' You said it. I think you're right. I said it. We have to act dramatically, boldly, if we're going to save lives in this country and around the world," Sanders said. "I look at climate change in exactly the same way."
Sanders emphasized the need to end subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, stop all oil and gas drilling and push for international action that goes beyond the Paris agreement.
Biden defended himself based on his experience of tackling the climate crisis, pointing to the fact that he wrote the first climate change bill introduced to the Senate in 1986.
"I've been way ahead of this curve," he said. "This idea that all of a sudden Bernie found this out is amazing to me."Voters in Illinois, Florida, Arizona and Ohio will have a chance to decide which candidate's approach they prefer when they vote in their states' primaries Tuesday. So far, Biden is leading Sanders in the delegate count 880 to 706, according to NBC News. A candidate needs 1,991 of 3,979 total delegates to secure the nomination.
By Jeff Berardelli
At the first presidential debate on Tuesday night, former Vice President Joe Biden said point-blank that he does not support the Green New Deal — a progressive plan which not only aims to aggressively tackle climate change but also encompasses many other issues like social justice, jobs, housing and health care.
In response, President Trump pounced on what appeared to be an opportunity to underscore that point to Biden's base, saying, "That's a big statement… you just lost the radical left."
But this was not actually a new position for Biden. Instead, he explained, "I support the Biden plan that I put forward" — a $2 trillion proposal that is more narrow and less aggressive than the far-reaching Green New Deal.
Their exchange reveals the needle that Biden is threading in his campaign, between trying to win the confidence of climate crusaders on the left while not alienating more moderate voters in the middle.
Although it is true that Biden's climate plan does not fully match the Green New Deal, there are many similarities. That's because over the last few months the Biden campaign made a deliberate effort to consult with more progressive factions of the party through the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force, a committee which included climate and environmental justice activists like the Sunrise Movement — a group instrumental in the design of the Green New Deal. Biden has committed to some, but not all, of the task force's recommendations.
"Joe Biden's climate plan isn't everything, but it isn't nothing at all," Varshini Prakash, the founder of Sunrise Movement, told CBS News in an interview for the recent CBSN special "Climate in Crisis." She said if he is able to make good on those promises, it would represent a "seismic shift in climate policy at the federal level."
As a result of the task force's work, Biden's climate plan was boosted from $1.7 trillion over 10 years to a much more substantial $2 trillion over four years, with a faster timeline to achieve a carbon-free electricity sector and a greater focus on environmental justice.
"I think that Biden has done a good job of responding to pressure from the climate movement," said Professor Leah Stokes, an energy and environmental politics expert at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who is very active in the climate policy arena and plugged into the progressive wing of the climate community. "The Unity Task Force was set up explicitly to accomplish this goal — and it was extremely successful."
The careful wording on Biden's campaign website is revealing. It says "Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face" — an acknowledgment but not an embrace.
Goals and Costs
First, it is worth mentioning that comparing Biden's plan to the Green New Deal is not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, because the Green New Deal is a broad resolution, not a specific plan. The goals of the Green New Deal are many, but the details on how exactly to achieve those goals are few. Thus, putting a price tag on the Green New Deal has been elusive; some experts estimate it would likely be tens of trillions of dollars over 10 years.
In contrast, Biden's climate plan would lay out $2 trillion over 4 years towards clean energy and infrastructure, which he says will create "millions" of jobs and move the U.S. closer to a carbon-free future. (For comparison, the cost, while expensive, it is still short of the one-year, $2.2 trillion price tag for U.S. coronavirus stimulus measures to date.)
Biden's plan is also much more narrowly focused than the Green New Deal, which envisions broader reforms across the U.S. economy. For instance, the Green New Deal includes a goal of "providing all people of the United States with high-quality health care" — an issue that is not addressed in Biden's climate plan.
However, like the Green New Deal, Biden's plan is aggressive in addressing climate change while also attempting to tackle other related issues such as environmental justice, sustainable housing, supporting a "just transition" for workers whose jobs are affected, and the building of major infrastructure projects such as high speed rail, which is mentioned in both proposals.
Green Jobs and Infrastructure
At their core, both the Green New Deal and Biden's climate plan are about jobs as well as the environment. They both place an emphasis on supporting labor unions' right to organize and bargain for fair wages for their members. The Green New Deal sets a goal of providing a guaranteed job with a family-sustaining wage and benefits to every American — but Biden does not go that far.
Biden's jobs plan is big, but not as comprehensive as the Green New Deal's. He pledges to create millions of new jobs by retooling the auto industry for low-emission vehicles, building infrastructure for a green future, upgrading millions of buildings to be more energy efficient, constructing 1.5 million new sustainable housing units, and cleaning up pollution from oil and gas wells and coal mining sites.
"When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, he thinks 'hoax.' I think 'jobs'," Biden has said. He aims to provide additional jobs out of the pandemic by boosting this green energy economy.
Climate change is also expected to continually increase major stresses on America's already aging infrastructure. To address this, both plans call for major investments to, as the Green New Deal puts it, "meet the challenges of the 21st century." Biden's plan calls for making "smart infrastructure investments to rebuild the nation and to ensure that our buildings, water, transportation, and energy infrastructure can withstand the impacts of climate change."
However, on housing, Biden's proposal to build 1.5 million new sustainable housing units is far short of the lofty ambitions of the Green New Deal, which calls for "providing all people of the United States with affordable, safe, and adequate housing."
Carbon Emissions and Fracking
On emissions reductions, Biden's plan calls for a carbon pollution-free U.S. power sector by 2035, with net-zero emissions throughout the economy by 2050. The Green New Deal's timeline is more aggressive, calling for a 10-year national mobilization to generate "100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources."
Both the Green New Deal and Biden's plan call for overhauling the American transportation industry to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases by creating more public transit and pushing the country toward more hybrid and electric cars. Biden's plan puts forth proposals like giving Americans rebates to trade in gas-guzzling vehicles for more efficient American cars, incentivizing auto companies to offer more zero-emission vehicles, and investing in 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, among other ideas.
One area where Biden's position has differed more significantly from environmental activists — and many of his rivals in the Democratic presidential primaries — has been on fracking.
Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling method for extracting natural gas from shale formations underground by injecting liquid at high pressure. Since 2005, the use of fracking in the U.S. has grown exponentially. Some energy experts forecast the U.S. will be the world's top exporter of natural gas within the next few years.
While the Green New Deal does not explicitly mention anything about fracking, its timeline to cut emissions from the power sector is so rapid that eliminating fracking is implied in the proposal. Banning fracking has certainly been a priority among climate activists.
However, fracking is a substantial source of jobs and revenue in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania, where some 32,000 workers are employed in the fracking and natural gas industry. Biden told voters there in July that fracking "is not on the chopping block," though his campaign says he supports no new fracking on federal land.
"It is not surprising that Biden said he doesn't support a Green New Deal. He has a climate plan that's in line with science — but he has never vocally supported a GND," says Emily Atkin, a popular climate journalist who writes and hosts HEATED, a newsletter and podcast followed closely by many progressive climate crusaders. "This is completely in line with who he said he was. Also, he's trying to win Pennsylvania." (According to the latest CBS News Battleground Tracker poll, Biden currently leads President Trump in the state by 5 points.)
Though he's faced some criticism over fracking from the left, it has been far more muted than one might expect, perhaps because green activists realize how much worse their chances will be if Mr. Trump is reelected. So far, according to a tally by Columbia University's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, the Trump administration has taken steps to roll back 162 climate related regulations.
A hallmark of the Green New Deal is its emphasis on environmental justice, to help remedy inequities which leave minority, low-income and Indigenous communities disproportionately affected by pollution and the impacts of climate change.
Biden's plan directs 40% of its spending to historically disadvantaged communities, and calls for the establishment of an Environmental and Climate Justice Division at the Justice Department to prosecute anti-pollution cases.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that while many of the concepts in the Green New Deal are also addressed in Biden's climate plan, generally speaking the Biden plan is more narrowly focused and less expensive.
Professor Stokes says it seems to be a bargain most progressives can live with in this election.
"We have a choice right now between our current president, a climate denier, and our former vice president, someone committed to climate action at the scale of the crisis," she told CBS News. "Biden has the most aggressive climate change plan of any presidential candidate in U.S. history."
This story originally appeared in CBS News and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
- Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate and Green Recovery Plan ... ›
- As Biden Embraces More Ambitious Climate Plan, Fossil Fuel Execs ... ›
- Ocasio-Cortez Tweets About Green New Deal During VP Debate - EcoWatch ›
- Biden Defeats Trump, Promises Sea Change on Climate and Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- Biden Win Puts World ‘Within Striking Distance’ of 1.5 C Paris Goal ›
- How Can the Biden Administration Fix America’s Broken Food System? - EcoWatch ›
- UCS Offers Science Advice for Biden Administration - EcoWatch ›
- For a Path Forward on Climate, Let’s Learn From the Original New Deal - EcoWatch ›
- The Rebuilding Years Begin Now - EcoWatch ›
- Environmentalists Seek Climate Action in U.S. Infrastructure Bill ›
- Biden to Unveil Major Infrastructure and Climate Plan ›
- U.S. Infrastructure, Climate and Health Crises Deserve $10 Trillion Investment, Says AOC ›
By Jake Johnson
Unity Task Forces formed by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled sweeping party platform recommendations Wednesday that—while falling short of progressive ambitions in a number of areas, from climate to healthcare—were applauded as important steps toward a bold and just policy agenda that matches the severity of the moment.
"We've moved the needle a lot, especially on environmental justice and upping Biden's ambition," said Sunrise Movement co-founder and executive director Varshini Prakash, a member of the Biden-Sanders Climate Task Force. "But there's still more work to do to push Democrats to act at the scale of the climate crisis."
The climate panel—co-chaired by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Secretary of State John Kerry—recommended that the Democratic Party commit to "eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035," massively expanding investments in clean energy sources, and "achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030."
In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Ocasio-Cortez—the lead sponsor of the House Green New Deal resolution—noted that the Climate Task Force "shaved 15 years off Biden's previous target for 100% clean energy."
"Of course, like in any collaborative effort, there are areas of negotiation and compromise," said the New York Democrat. "But I do believe that the Climate Task Force effort meaningfully and substantively improved Biden's positions."
Today the 6 Biden-Sanders Unity Task Forces are unveiling final language. The Climate Task Force accomplished a gr… https://t.co/gz3broq2qe— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1594240617.0
The 110 pages of policy recommendations from the six eight-person Unity Task Forces on education, the economy, criminal justice, immigration, climate change, and healthcare are aimed at shaping negotiations over the 2020 Democratic platform at the party's convention next month.
Sanders said that while the "end result isn't what I or my supporters would've written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country."
"I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign," the Vermont senator added, "and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice."
Biden, for his part, applauded the task forces "for helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country."
"I am deeply grateful to Bernie Sanders for working with us to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come," said the former vice president.
On the life-or-death matter of reforming America's dysfunctional private health insurance system—a subject on which Sanders and Biden clashed repeatedly throughout the Democratic primary process—the Unity Task Force affirmed healthcare as "a right" but did not embrace Medicare for All, the signature policy plank of the Vermont senator's presidential bid.
Instead, the panel recommended building on the Affordable Care Act by establishing a public option, investing in community health centers, and lowering prescription drug costs by allowing the federal government to negotiate prices. The task force also endorsed making all Covid-19 testing, treatments, and potential vaccines free and expanding Medicaid for the duration of the pandemic.
"It has always been a crisis that tens of millions of Americans have no or inadequate health insurance—but in a pandemic, it's potentially catastrophic for public health," the task force wrote.
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a former Michigan gubernatorial candidate and Sanders-appointed member of the Healthcare Task Force, said that despite major disagreements, the panel "came to recommendations that will yield one of the most progressive Democratic campaign platforms in history—though we have further yet to go."
We rein in #pharma's greed by: 1) Allowing Medicare to FINALLY negotiate Rx drugs FOR ALL AMERICANS 2) Using Rx d… https://t.co/6k9iUCLMp7— Abdul El-Sayed (@Abdul El-Sayed)1594238411.0
Observers and advocacy groups also applauded the Unity Task Forces for recommending the creation of a postal banking system, endorsing a ban on for-profit charter schools, ending the use of private prisons, and imposing a 100-day moratorium on deportations "while conducting a full-scale study on current practices to develop recommendations for transforming enforcement policies and practices at ICE and CBP."
Marisa Franco, director of immigrant rights group Mijente, said in a statement that "going into these task force negotiations, we knew we were going to have to push Biden past his comfort zone, both to reconcile with past offenses and to carve a new path forward."
"That is exactly what we did, unapologetically," said Franco, a member of the Immigration Task Force. "For years, Mijente, along with the broader immigrant rights movement, has fought to reshape the narrative around immigration towards racial justice and to focus these very demands. We expect Biden and the Democratic Party to implement them in their entirety."
"There is no going back," Franco added. "Not an inch, not a step. We must only move forward from here."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Poll: 96% of Democratic Voters Want 2020 Nominee to Prioritize ... ›
- House Democrats Hold First Climate Change Hearings in More ... ›
- Latino Voters Worried About Climate Change Could Swing 2020 ... ›
- Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate and Green Recovery Plan - EcoWatch ›
By Eoin Higgins
Progressive Democrats led by Rep. Ilhan Omar and Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday introduced a bill to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and other industry giveaways, calling taxpayer support of the climate-killing business — a counterproductive and dangerous use of federal funds as the climate crisis worsens and Americans suffer through an economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's past time we end the billions of taxpayer subsidies to fossil-fuel companies," said Omar, a Minnesota Democrat. "Our focus right now needs to be on getting the American people through this difficult, unprecedented time, not providing giveaways to polluters."
It’s past time we end the billions of taxpayer subsidies to fossil-fuel companies. Today, @SenSanders,… https://t.co/kdafv03WE4— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Rep. Ilhan Omar)1595602352.0
"Taxpayers provide $15 billion in direct federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year," she added. "That ends with this bill."
Omar and Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, were joined in leading the End Polluter Welfare Act by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) as well as Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.).
"At a time when we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and an economic decline, it is absurd to provide billions of taxpayer subsidies that pad fossil-fuel companies' already-enormous profits," said Sanders.
"We need more safe, healthy, good paying jobs," he added, "not more corporate polluter giveaways."
Fossil fuels are destroying our planet — yet the federal government gives oil, gas and coal companies nearly $15 BI… https://t.co/MoRpsw9U3h— Friends of the Earth (@Friends of the Earth)1595610919.0
The bill would close tax loopholes, end taxpayer-funded subsidies, and bar the use of federal lands for resource extraction and federal funding for fossil fuel research.
"It is ridiculous that the federal government continues to hand out massive giveaways to antiquated fossil fuel industries that are not only financially risky, but are also destroying our planet," said Merkley.
President Donald Trump's administration has prioritized giveaways to the fossil fuel industry throughout his presidency, including as the pandemic wreaks havoc on the country.
The legislation is co-sponsored in the House by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Jesús "Chuy" Garcia (D-Ill.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.).
The legislation aims to cut off oil, gas and coal companies reaping billions from federal COVID-19 relief and annua… https://t.co/tvHL0Trx2w— Climate Desk (@Climate Desk)1595603535.0
According to a press release from Omar's office, the bill:
would also guarantee the continued solvency of the Black Lung Disability Fund to ensure continued medical care for tens of thousands of working-class Americans who worked hard for decades to provide energy for the nation. Fossil fuel drilling and transportation also disproportionately impact indigenous communities and communities of color, who have long opposed extraction on their land.
Activists and climate advocates like Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Charlie Jiang welcomed the legislation.
"It is outrageous that the federal government has exploited a pandemic to throw even more public money at the industry that created and profited from the climate crisis," said Jiang. "A bill to end giveaways for the fossil fuel industry—which is saddled with debt and recklessly polluting Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities—is long overdue. It's time to shift our investments to protect people on the frontlines of the climate crisis and support fossil fuel workers in the transition to a world beyond fossil fuels."
While the bill faces an uphill battle, it was nonetheless seen as a good sign by Earth Island Institute's International Marine Mammal Project, executive director Mark Palmer said in a statement.
"The fossil fuels industry must change to avoid the worst effects of global warming, which is already upon us," Palmer said. "This legislation is a giant step towards reining in the pollution from oil and gas development, and we wholeheartedly endorse it."
As the country reels from the coronavirus pandemic, said Oil Change International senior campaigner Collin Rees, the bill represents an important readjustment of priorities.
"The End Polluter Welfare Act is critically needed legislation at a pivotal moment," said Rees. "We must stop propping up oil, gas, and coal with public money and invest in the people and communities most impacted by systemic oppression, Covid-19, and the climate crisis."
Markey, who was also a lead sponsor of bicameral Green New Deal legislation along with Ocasio-Cortez, sounded a similar note in comments about the new bill.
"We should be providing support for workers and those affected by Trump's criminally-negligent response to the pandemic — not bailing out the fossil fuel industry and propping up its profit margins," said Markey. "Trump is only trying to add to these decades-long payouts for polluters, when we should be directing our resources to keeping people safe."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
A new study finds that wealthy Americans living in spacious houses in upscale neighborhoods are responsible for 25% more emissions on average than those living in smaller houses in poorer areas.
Rich people live in bigger houses and consume more energy, generating greater climate-warming emissions, according to the research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Although houses are becoming more energy-efficient, U.S. household energy use and related greenhouse gas emissions are not shrinking," lead author Benjamin Goldstein, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan, said in a statement, adding that "this lack of progress undermines the substantial emissions reductions needed to mitigate climate change."
The U.S. has the highest per capita emissions of any country and has historically pumped the largest amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. About a quarter of U.S. emissions are produced by households, which is more than Germany's total emissions.
Goldstein and his team tracked energy consumption patterns of nearly 100 million households by reviewing their 2015 tax records. They looked at incomes, building types, the climate, and the kind of power grid supplying homes to generate the first-ever national carbon emissions rankings of states down to the zip code.
House acreage plays an outsized role in determining a household's carbon footprint, and lower-income people generally live in smaller spaces. Carbon emissions linked to residences are a result of everything from the use of dishwashers and lights, to heating and cooling.
U.S. household greenhouse gas intensity in 2015 by state. Household GHG intensity represented by kilograms CO2-equivalents per square meter (kg CO2-e/m2) by state. Benjamin Goldstein
"Regional variations were driven mainly by the amount of energy needed to heat and cool homes and by the type of fuel used to generate electricity," the study authors said.
This is why regions where the demand for heating or cooling is higher guzzle more energy and produce more carbon emissions, especially states in the northeast. Maine, Vermont and Wisconsin were the largest consumers of energy in 2015.
Vermont is the home state of Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, who promised to declare climate change a national emergency if elected president and has pushed for a more ambitious domestic policy on climate change. Sanders ended his presidential run earlier this year and has endorsed Joe Biden, the former vice president. Biden last week unveiled a $2 trillion plan to tackle climate change.
The least energy-intensive states were Florida, Arizona and California. Overall, central states fared the worst when it came to their carbon footprint per unit of floor space in 2015.
Donald Trump, who is vying to be re-elected this November, is openly dismissive of climate change concerns. In 2015, 195 countries came together to sign the Paris Agreement laying down targets for reductions in carbon emissions by 2030 and 2050. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the global climate treaty last year.
Despite this, Democrats hope a new president will be installed in the White House, who will push an even stronger climate agenda than Barack Obama, who helped forge the Paris climate treaty.
The goal under the treaty for housing is to reduce emissions by 80% from their 2005 levels. An analysis by the researchers suggests that U.S. households won't meet the 2050 targets set for residential emissions, even if the electricity grid relies on cleaner sources of energy.
Only if homes are smaller and more tightly packed together would that target be achievable. But it would still require Americans to use energy more sparingly and more efficiently.
Reposted with permission from Mongabay.
- Global Carbon Emissions Reached Record High in 2018 - EcoWatch ›
- 21 Countries That Reduced Carbon Emissions While Growing Their ... ›
- Carbon Dioxide Emissions Near Level Not Seen in 15 Million Years ... ›
- Wealthy One Percent Are Producing More Carbon Emissions Than Bottom Half ›
- Are We Really Past the Point of No Return on Climate? Scientists Respond To Controversial New Study - EcoWatch ›
- Energy-Efficient Homes Better Withstand Power Outages ›
- Children's Fear of the Dark Increases C02 Emissions ›
- Calculating Billionaires' Massive Carbon Footprint ›