Friday, June 10, 2016

Hilary Clinton is our Last Best Hope of Tackling Climate Change

Anyone interested in climate action needs to appreciate that Hilary Clinton is our last best hope. Clinton has emerged as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and she is a far better choice than the Republican candidate Donald Trump. To get a handle on what is at stake, voters need to understand that without US involvement, efforts to reign-in climate change are doomed to fail. Clinton has recently received endorsements from the greenest candidate in this election cycle Tom O'Malley and Potus himself, President Barack Obama.

Clinton is now in a position to be the first women ever to be president of the United States. This is even more significant following on the heels of the successful presidency of Barack Obama. The first African American president and the greenest president in US history. Regardless of who becomes president Clinton is the first female presidential nominee of the two major US parties.

Arguably even more import than this historic achievement, Clinton is now the only one who can stop the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Make no mistake about it, a Trump presidency at this juncture would kill any hope we have of reigning in climate change. We are rapidly running out of time before we trigger unstoppable tipping points from which we could not recover. So in this sense, Clinton is the best hope we have to tackle climate change.

As revealed by Clinton's recent evisceration of Trump, she has the toughness that it takes to do what the field of Republican presidential contenders could not. 

Clinton has made her views on climate change known in the first Democratic primary debate and through her published policy positions. Here is a brief summary of her climate and energy policies:

Paris Climate Agreement

Clinton accepts the veracity of climate change and the 1.5 - 2.0 degree Celsius upper threshold temperature limits included in the Paris Climate Agreement. She will increase US emissions reductions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. This is a slight improvement on the Obama administration's goals of cutting emissions 26 to 28 percent. She will also work to preserve Obama's climate actions including the Clean Power Plan, which faces stiff opposition from Republicans. Clinton will also continue Obama's national fuel efficiency standards and the new methane rules.

Social and Environmental Justice

She has also indicated that she will try to make the transition to cleaner sources of energy more palatable to the majority of Americans. To illustrate she has indicated that she will work on economic development in coal mining communities that are out of work. Clinton recently released a comprehensive plan on environmental injustice that includes efforts to address lead.

Renewables and Efficiency

On her website she pledges that all American homes will be powered by renewables within a decade and she will oversee the installation of half a billion solar panels by the end of her first term. She will also work to make America more energy efficient saving $8 billion a year in energy and health care costs.

Clinton has also proposed a National Infrastructure Bank that would support grid investments for distributed energy, and investments in clean energy R&D. She would also ease permitting on new electricity transmission, increase the amount of renewable energy used in federal buildings and on public land. raise the bar on efficiency standards for all federal procurement and federally funded infrastructure.

Through a program called the Clean Energy Challenge, she has promised $60 billion in grants provided to states who show climate leadership.

Fossil Fuels

One of her biggest climate fails may be her support for natural gas as a bridge fuel. However, Clinton wants natural gas to be cleaner. She has proposed a National Infrastructure Bank that would reduce the number of leaks in natural gas pipelines, Through clean energy and efficiency measures she has also promised to reduce US oil consumption by a third. She does not support oil and gas production in the Arctic and the Atlantic coast, and she supports Obama's moratorium on new coal leasing. She does not support a blanket ban on new oil and gas leases on public land.


Clinton wants to keep existing nuclear plants operational. While Bernie Sanders has indicated that he would like to phase them out over time. Nuclear power provides 20 percent of all electricity generation in the US and 60 percent of all zero-carbon energy. Clinton also wants to increase investment in new forms of nuclear power.


There are a number of differences that have emerged between Clinton and Sanders. A side by side comparison reveals that Clinton is not be as green as Sanders and certainly not as green as O'Malley, but she is the last person standing capable of taking on Trump.

Anyone but Trump

Trump's policy positions, if you can call them that, are largely unintelligible. His populism appears to be cobbled together on the spot so it is hard to weave a coherent narrative out of his rants. Although he may not have a proper platform, many of his stated actions would cause great harm. This is not only about climate change and the environment. A Trump presidency would hobble the economy and derail America's energy agenda. When compared to the horror-show that a Trump Presidency would augur, Clinton is the best choice by a country mile. Those who support climate action may not have an ideal candidate, but unless they want to abet disaster by abstaining to vote, they must support Clinton.

Climate Focus at the April 14th Democratic Debate
Climate Related Excerpts from the March 9th Democratic Presidential Debate
Hilary Maintains her Climate Silence as O'Malley Pushes his Green Agenda (Iowa Democratic Town Hall)
Climate Change May Give Democrats the Edge in the 2016 Federal Election

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