Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hillary Clinton: Views on Climate Change in the First Democratic Presidential Debate

Clinton accepts the veracity of climate change and the need to act while she dismisses Republicans and those who think otherwise, "The reality of climate change is unforgiving no matter what the deniers say."

"You don't have to be a scientist to take on this urgent challenge that threatens us all. You just have to be willing to act," she said. "You don't have to be a scientist to accept scientific evidence," Clinton tweeted.

Clinton is far ahead of her closest rival Bernie Sanders, although he has a far more robust climate record than she does. As Secretary of State, her crowing environmental achievement was progress that she made towards reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP).

She has waffled on the Keystone XL, but she has recently come out against it. She has also indicated that she would end tax breaks for oil and gas producers if she were to be elected President.

"We’ll stop the giveaways to big oil companies and extend, instead, tax incentives for clean energy, while making them more cost-effective for both taxpayers and producers," Clinton said.

However, she has not advocated keeping fossil fuels in the ground. She has not ruled out using federal land for fossil fuel development, nor has she indicated that she wants to put a price on carbon or end fracking. It should be noted that Clinton is getting substantial campaign contributions from those involved in the fossil fuel industry.

In August, Clinton made her first major break with President Obama over the environment, announcing that she opposed Arctic drilling. "Given what we know, it's not worth the risk," Clinton said on Twitter.

The crowning jewel of Clinton's climate platform is her ambitious renewable energy targets. She would like to get one third of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2027. Her plan includes the installation of 500 million solar panels across the country. This represents a 700 percent increase by the end of the decade.

She indicates that to achieve her goals she will incentivize investment in renewables. This includes increasing the number of government grants for clean energy, extending federal clean energy tax incentives and expanding renewable energy on public lands.

As she explained in the first Democratic Presidential debate: "I’ve put forward specific plans about how we’re going to create more good-paying jobs: by investing in infrastructure and clean energy, by making it possible once again to invest in science and research, and taking the opportunity posed by climate change to grow our economy."

To meet her 2027 goal, renewables’ share of US electricity generation would have to increase from about 14 percent today to about 33 percent. Solar, wind, and geothermal together would have to quadruple.

According to a Clinton fact sheet she would create "competitive grants and other market-based incentives" for states and "awards for communities that successfully cut the red tape that slows rooftop solar installation times."

In a June speech on New York City’s Roosevelt Island Clinton promised to make America "the clean energy superpower of the 21st century."

She listed solar, wind, advanced biofuels, smarter electric grids, cleaner power plants, greener buildings, and using fossil fuel extraction fees "to protect the environment and ease the transition for distressed communities to a more diverse and sustainable economic future."

She has stated that her plan will create millions of jobs, and countless new businesses. All of which will "enable America to lead the global fight against climate change."

In her autobiography, Hard Choices, she claims that a 2005 visit to Alaska opened her eyes. She warns about the dangers of placing the economy above the environment, referring to it as the, "false choice between promoting the economy and protecting the environment."

Clinton's autobiography describes how she and President Barack Obama pushed for emissions reductions targets from the developing world with representatives from China, India, Brazil and South Africa. She also recounts how she and Obama barged into a secret meeting to urge climate action from Chinese delegates at the 2009 Copenhagen climate-change conference.

This is a point she reemphasized in the Democratic Presidential debate:

"I have been on the forefront of dealing with climate change, starting in 2009, when President Obama and I crashed a meeting with the Chinese and got them to sign up to the first international agreement to combat climate change that they’d ever joined."

"When we met in Copenhagen in 2009 and, literally, President Obama and I were hunting for the Chinese, going throughout this huge convention center, because we knew we had to get them to agree to something. Because there will be no effective efforts against climate change unless China and India join with the rest of the world...They told us they’d left for the airport; we found out they were having a secret meeting. We marched up, we broke in, we said, We’ve been looking all over for you. Let’s sit down and talk about what we need to do. And we did come up with the first international agreement that China has signed."

In the debate she thanked President Obama for his leadership. In her book, Clinton says she would work to maintain Obama’s goals and rules on carbon emissions from power plants.

"We cannot wait any longer." Clinton said. "It is time we stand for healthier climate, stand for cleaner air, for science, for innovation, for our children. For reality, for the future."

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

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