By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
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.
By Oliver Milman
The climate crisis is set to be a significant factor in a U.S. presidential election for the first time, with new polling showing a clear majority of American voters want decisive action to deal with the threats posed by global heating.
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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 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.
Biden a Climate Disappointment?<p>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.</p><p>Prior to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/kamala-harris-formally-accepts-us-vice-president-nomination/a-54629507" target="_blank">Kamala Harris' announcement as Biden's running mate</a>, 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. </p><p>But some Democratic voters are disappointed with the Biden/Harris ticket, believing <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/us-bernie-sanders-halts-bid-for-democratic-presidential-nomination/a-53065293" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sanders, who dropped out of the Democratic race for president in April</a>, would have been the better candidate. </p><p>"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. </p><p>That won't stop her voting Democrat though.</p><p>"We have to. The Trump thing has got to end," added Antunes. "But I'm not excited."</p><p>Most progressive voters like Antunes might prefer to unite behind <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-biden-isnt-trump-but-thats-not-enough/a-54644348" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden against Trump's reelection</a> even if they don't feel his commitment to climate change action goes far enough.</p><p>"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. </p>
Republicans: Economy Trumps Climate Change<p>Over the last few years, Trump has <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">dismissed climate change as a "hoax,"</a> not human-caused, and called environmental activists "perennial prophets of doom."</p><p>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. </p><p>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." </p><p>The plan outlines no path to clean water or air.</p><p>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.</p><p>"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."</p>
Growing Impatience Among Young Republicans<p>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"?</p><p>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.</p><p>That doesn't mean they're ready to switch allegiance to the Democrats, though. </p><p>"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, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/alaska-climate-change-threatens-indigenous-traditions/a-50722471" target="_blank">Alaska</a>, has a focus on community and nature." </p><p>O'Brien dislikes the Democrat's "regulatory approach to climate" and is instead lobbying for free market solutions to climate change through YCCD.</p>
Reframing Climate Action<p>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 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/speaking-truth-to-power-female-activists-dominate-top-environmental-prize/a-43499770" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">water pollution in Flint, Michigan</a>.</p><p>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.</p><p>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."</p><p>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.</p><p>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 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/we-need-to-talk-about-virgin-plastics/a-48458223" target="_blank">ethane cracker plants, which take natural gas</a> and converts it into the basis for making plastics, has received a lot of support, said Ansolabehere, especially from local unions. </p>
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By Jake Johnson
Bolstered by an energized climate movement, small-dollar donors, and support from prominent progressive lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Green New Deal champion Sen. Ed Markey on Tuesday fended off a Democratic primary challenge from Rep. Joe Kennedy III, whose name recognition and late endorsement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were ultimately insufficient to topple the popular Massachusetts incumbent.
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By Jake Johnson
Just hours before Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with wind speed surpassing that of Katrina, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a Republican National Convention speech Wednesday night in which he mentioned climate action once only to reject it, continuing the GOP event's ignoring or downplaying of an emergency wreaking havoc and devastation in real time.
<p>Speaking live from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Pence said at the beginning of his remarks that his "prayers are with" those affected by the hurricane <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-storm-laura-energy/stronger-hurricane-laura-aims-at-heart-of-u-s-oil-refining-industry-idUSKBN25M23P" target="_blank">set to strike at the heart</a> of the U.S. oil and gas industry, sparking <a href="https://twitter.com/BiologistDan/status/1298778265147105280" target="_blank">warnings</a> of a looming "environmental nightmare."</p><p>"This is a serious storm," added the vice president, who said the White House is "working closely with authorities in the states that will be impacted."</p><p>The one time Pence mentioned climate in his remarks was during an attack on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who the vice president said wants to "abolish fossil fuels, end fracking, and impose a regime of climate change regulations." Biden's climate plan, <a href="https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/07/14/more-work-do-major-step-forward-progressives-welcome-bidens-2-trillion-green-energy" target="_blank">viewed</a> by green groups as insufficient but as a step in the right direction, calls for new regulations on the polluting oil and gas industry but would not end fracking or abolish fossil fuels.</p><p>Pence also touted Trump's <a href="https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/06/26/incredibly-reckless-trump-moves-expand-fossil-fuel-drilling-alaskas-western-arctic" target="_blank">destructive efforts</a> to ramp up domestic fossil fuel production and <a href="https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/09/18/the-myth-of-u-s-energy-independence-has-gone-up-in-smoke/" target="_blank">falsely</a> claimed the U.S. has achieved "energy independence" under the current administration.</p>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">3 nights. 69 speakers. <br><br>Now just one mention of climate change: Mike Pence saying they won’t pass a “regime of climate change regulations.” <br><br>Meanwhile...well, just watch the weather channel. <a href="https://t.co/xAoHaqqQ31">https://t.co/xAoHaqqQ31</a></p>— Jamie Henn (@jamieclimate) <a href="https://twitter.com/jamieclimate/status/1298836189277872128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 27, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
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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.
<div id="326b8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="12ac12cbb38f3d8bd97857fb446a772b"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1297954158914318336" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">I've dedicated my life to conservative politics...thousands of hours knocking doors/making phone calls. I've gone t… https://t.co/iUfcg0PSKb</div> — Benji Backer (@Benji Backer)<a href="https://twitter.com/BenjiBacker/statuses/1297954158914318336">1598291360.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), whom League of Conservation Voters <a href="https://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/john-curtis" target="_blank">gives</a> a 3% rating on its environmental scorecard, <a href="https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2020/08/24/rep-john-curtis-says-gop/" target="_blank">told</a> attendees at an unrelated event Monday that his party has to start taking the climate crisis seriously.</p><p>"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."</p><p>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."</p><p>But Curtis remains in the minority of Republican lawmakers, and, Sanders wrote, tackling the climate crisis is a duty we share as global citizens.</p><p>"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."</p>
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The Great American Outdoors Act is now the law of the land.
<div id="e0008" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ffc07febbf5d2d585ad06d3f43e2be56"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1290667833999929344" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Breaking News: The President has just signed the bipartisan #GreatAmericanOutdoorsAct. It will help: 🏗️ Restore… https://t.co/RPefKPMn7S</div> — Fix Our Parks (@Fix Our Parks)<a href="https://twitter.com/FixOurParksUS/statuses/1290667833999929344">1596554165.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Oliver Milman
This story was originally published in The Guardian on July 27, 2020.
It was a balmy June day in 2017 when Donald Trump took to the lectern in the White House Rose Garden to announce the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, the only comprehensive global pact to tackle the spiraling crisis.
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Abandoned Climate Efforts<p>The U.S. government in practice abandoned any concern over the climate crisis some time ago, with the Trump administration so far <a href="https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2020/07/trump-is-rushing-to-slash-every-last-obama-era-environmental-rule/" target="_blank">rolling back</a> more than 100 environmental protections, including an Obama-era plan to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants, limits on pollution emitted from cars and trucks and even energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs. In an often chaotic presidency, Trump's position on climate change has been unusually consistent – American fossil fuel production must be bolstered, restrictive climate regulations must be scrapped.</p><p>Unswayed by <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/308876/environmental-ratings-global-warming-concern-flat-2020.aspx" target="_blank">growing alarm</a> among Americans over the climate crisis, Trump is taking this same message to the election. "Biden wants to massively re-regulate the energy economy, rejoin the Paris climate accord, which would kill our energy totally, you would have to close 25% of your businesses and kill oil and gas development," the president said this month, without citing evidence, as he announced <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/15/donald-trump-environmental-reviews-pipelines-highways" target="_blank">another rollback</a>, this time of environmental assessments of pipelines, highways and other infrastructure.</p><p><span></span>Despite all this, U.S. emissions have continued to fall, due in large part to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/29/america-coal-mining-enery-climate-crisis" target="_blank">downfall</a> of a coal industry that Trump has attempted to prop up. The international ramifications have been telling, however – in the absence of any sort of positive cajoling from the U.S., global emissions have remained stubbornly <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/25/climate-heating-greenhouse-gases-hit-new-high-un-reports" target="_blank">high</a> and most countries are lagging behind their own promised actions.</p><p>According to the <a href="https://climateactiontracker.org/" target="_blank">Climate Action Tracker</a>, only Morocco is acting consistently with the Paris agreement's goals, with the global temperature rise set to exceed 3C by the end of the century even if the current pledges are met. Paris was meant to be only the beginning – countries are supposed to continually ratchet up their ambition levels until the more extreme ravages of climate change, such as dire flooding, heatwaves, crop failures and the loss of coral reefs, are avoided.</p><p>"There's been less political will from other countries to take action to a certain extent because the U.S. isn't pushing for it," said Biniaz. "During the first four years of Trump it's easier to say it's likely to be an aberration, a short-term deviation, but if it's eight years it's harder to keep together the coalition of countries that care about this."</p>
‘Another Meteorite Is Coming’<p>Another four years of a Trump administration uninterested in the climate crisis could set back global emissions cuts by a decade, according to <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/four-more-years-of-donald-trump-could-delay-global-emissions-cuts-by-10-years" target="_blank">one published analysis</a>, making the chances of meeting the goals of Paris near to impossible.</p><p>Hakon Saelen, an environmental economist at the University of Oslo who led the study, said the U.S. withdrawal is a "significant major blow" to the mitigation of the climate crisis. "The world cannot afford any delay if the 2C target is to be reached," he said. "Our model indicates that the chance of reaching it is very low already, but near zero with another Trump term."</p><p>But even with an engaged Biden administration that is somehow able to get Congress to agree <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/14/joe-biden-climate-jobs-plan" target="_blank">to a $2t</a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/14/joe-biden-climate-jobs-plan" target="_blank">n plan</a> to shift the U.S. on to renewable energy, the challenge is immense. The world has dithered on cutting emissions for so long that only an unprecedented, rapid overhaul of the way we travel, generate energy and eat will keep humanity within the bounds of safety outlined in Paris.</p>The world will have to slash emissions by more than 7% a year this decade to have any hope of meeting the 1.5C target, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/26/united-nations-global-effort-cut-emissions-stop-climate-chaos-2030" target="_blank">according to the United Nations</a>. This annual cut will be achievable this year only through the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, which shuttered much of the global economy. A more sustainable path to decarbonization will need to be immediately identified and implemented.<p><br>"The warmer it gets the worse it gets and the [Paris] targets are broadly at a level where things will get really bad," said Zeke Hausfather, director of climate and energy at the <a href="https://thebreakthrough.org/" target="_blank">Breakthrough Institute</a>. "We don't want people to give up hope, the human race won't become extinct at 2C but that's an unnecessarily high bar. There are still large threats and a lot of good reasons to keep warming below that.</p><p>Stern said American voters will naturally be "supersonic focused" on coronavirus and the economic fallout. "But climate change can't be forgotten this election," he said. "The Covid crisis has shown us countries can do remarkable things in short order when they believe they have to. It shows us we need leaders who also understand what we need to do on climate change, because that is another meteorite heading our way."</p>
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By Varshini Prakash and John Podesta
At the 2019 Republican Retreat, Donald Trump promised his allies that he would make this election about climate change: "I want to bring them way down the pike," he said, "before we start criticizing the Green New Deal."
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By Maddie Stone
One of the starkest inequalities exposed by the coronavirus pandemic is the difference between the digital haves and have-nots. Those with a fast internet connection are more able to work and learn remotely, stay in touch with loved ones, and access critical services like telemedicine. For the millions of Americans who live in an internet dead zone, fully participating in society in the age of social distancing has become difficult if not impossible.
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By Jake Johnson
Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate are demanding that the Trump administration immediately reverse an order requiring hospitals to send Covid-19 patient information directly to a Health and Human Services database instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a change that threw the data-collection process into chaos as states struggle to cope with soaring infections.