This Pug is Ready for the Paris Climate Talks. Are You?
With less than a week to go before the 21st annual Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21), environmental organizations are working hard to get the public engaged. The Sierra Club innovatively pulled at its members’ heartstrings with a video that features a pug in a Hawaiian shirt.
A pug in a Hawaiian shirt. A pug in a Hawaiian shirt demanding a progressive climate accord from every world leader congregating in Paris this December. If they’re not already motivated enough by their mother, brother, cousin or partner who will be affected by climate disruption, then hopefully they’ll be moved to action by all the pugs out there wearing Hawaiian shirts.
That is the hope of the Sierra Club’s #ActInParis campaign anyway. The aim is to demonstrate strong public support for climate action on local, national and international levels, generating momentum and awareness for the climate negotiations. Grassroots efforts have been spearheaded by members and non-members alike who have come across this action alert, Jared Leto’s virtual reality promotional video or the #ActInParis selfies that can be found across all social media networks.
Why all the effort? After all, 20 climate conferences have come and gone with very little fanfare outside of the environmental world. That will not be the case in 2015. This year is different. It marks the first time that leaders from all 195 United Nations recognized countries will be in attendance at the conference.
That’s right. 2015, the warmest year ever on record, has the potential to be the first year on record to unite the biggest economies in the world around climate action. Can you imagine? Countries like the U.S., China, the UK and Germany finding common ground on something this divisive is groundbreaking and deserves our recognition.
Does this dog not deserve a world populated with people who believe that it is our moral imperative to keep climate disruption under two degrees centigrade?
That is what world leaders hope to achieve at the climate negotiations this year and, with new Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) summarizing the actions each country intends to take in the next fifteen years coming in every day, that goal is within their reach.
Our acknowledgement of COP21 will make a difference. World leaders need to know that the world is, in fact, watching. That we are, in fact, watching. That we care about the text of their next international agreement on climate. That we know that any agreement that elicits temperature increases of more than two degrees centigrade is unacceptable. That we will hold them accountable for their climate commitments. That we care about what they will accomplish in Paris because we know that their actions will determine our collective future on a healthy, functional plant Earth. The pug in the Hawaiian shirt will be watching President Obama and 194 other world leaders #ActInParis. Will you?
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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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