Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bernie Sanders: Views on Climate Change in the First Democratic Presidential Debate

Bernie Sanders embraces the science of climate change (including the IPCC AR5 report) and the need for immediate action. Sanders has been a tireless champion of climate action. He has repeatedly professed his conviction that we need a climate policy informed by science. Polls show that Sanders is the only candidate anywhere near the front runner Hillary Clinton, however, her climate record is nowhere near as strong as his.

As Sanders explained in the Democratic Presidential debate on the evening of October 13:

"Today, the scientific community is virtually unanimous: climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and we have a moral responsibility to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy and leave this planet a habitable planet for our children and our grandchildren....The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable. That is a major crisis."
For Sanders climate change is a moral issue in addition to being about science. "I believe — and Pope Francis made this point. This is a moral issue. The scientists are telling us that we need to move extremely boldly," Sanders said during the debate.

He is also supports the idea of putting a price on carbon, a point he reiterated in the debate, "I am proud that, along with Senator Barbara Boxer, a few years ago, we introduced the first piece of climate change legislation which called for a tax on carbon."

Sanders has vowed that he will not take any money from fossil fuel companies. He shares the concerns of Lawrence Lessig and decries the influence of lobbying efforts which has bred climate change skepticism in Washington:
"And let me also tell you that nothing is gonna happen unless we are prepared to deal with campaign finance reform, because the fossil fuel industry is funding the Republican Party, which denies the reality of climate change" Sanders said during the debate, "and certainly is not prepared to go forward aggressively."
Sanders has squarely attacked Republican climate denial. During a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in July 2014, Bernie said:
“For the first time to the best of my knowledge, we have a major political party which by and large is rejecting what the majority of the scientific community is saying.”
He has forced other Senators to go on record about climate change and he is not beholden to special interests as he does not take money from corporate donors.

He wants to hold accountable large emitters of greenhouse gases. He co-sponsored the Super Pollutants Act of 2014 to reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP) including methane, leaked refrigerants, and soot.
He co-sponsored a climate bill that aimed to reduce GHG emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and he led the congress in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.

He co-sponsored the Climate Protection Act of 2013 that would tax greenhouse-gas emitters directly via a fee on carbon pollution emissions, fund historic investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies (e.g., wind, solar, geothermal and biomass), and fund $1 billion a year in worker training and transition programs to help move workers into jobs in the clean energy economy.

Sanders  sponsored the End Polluter Welfare Act to stop taxpayer-funded giveaways to oil, gas and coal companies while saving taxpayers over $135 billion over ten years. Sanders also wrote a 10 Million Solar Rooftops bill.

In July 2015, he said, "We must make significant reduction in carbon emissions and break our dependency on fossil fuels."

While Sanders wants the US to do more to manage climate change he also realizes that other nations will have to be pressured,  "we have got to be extremely aggressive in working with China, India, Russia," he said during the debate.  However, he also added urgency to the situation saying, "the future of the planet is at stake."

The Senator from Vermont may very well be the best candidate on the climate front.

See the climate positions of the other Democratic presidential candidates: Martin O'Malley, Hillary ClintonLincoln Chaffee, Larry Lessig and Jim Webb.

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