Texas Freeze 101: Why We Need Public Power

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 20 Feb 2021 20:00:00 GMT

Winter Storm Uri has devastated an unprepared, unregulated Texas grid leaving millions without power and at risk of exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning, and death.

Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, alongside the US right wing media apparatus, spent their spare time finding ways to blame this preventable disaster on wind energy and the Green New Deal. Texas Senator Cruz abandoned his constituents during the deadly storm to vacation in Mexico. The wealthy and powerful will do everything they can to evade the climate crisis they profit from.

Come Saturday at 2PM Central to learn the truth about what happened, how climate change and capitalism are at the root of the crisis, and what we can do to stop this from happening again. Author, journalist, and climate expert Kate Aronoff will join us to explain the situation, and directly impacted comrades in Texas will share their experiences and where our movement goes from here. We will also share mutual aid resources and other ways for you to best help out.

RSVP

Biden's National Climate Task Force Has First Official Meeting, Forms Climate Innovation Working Group

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 12 Feb 2021 00:42:00 GMT

The White House National Climate Task Force, formed by a recent executive order, held its first meeting today. The first tweet from National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy’s official account displayed the participants.

Additionally, the White House announced the formation of the Climate Innovation Working Group as part of the Climate Task Force. The working group, co-chaired by the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, Office of Science of Technology and Policy, and Office of Management and Budget, will focus on climate technology research, development, and deployment.

According to the White House, the working group’s priorities will be:
  • zero net carbon buildings at zero net cost, including carbon-neutral construction materials;
  • energy storage at one-tenth the cost of today’s alternatives;
  • advanced energy system management tools to plan for and operate a grid powered by zero carbon power plants;
  • very low-cost zero carbon on-road vehicles and transit systems;
  • new, sustainable fuels for aircraft and ships, as well as improvements in broader aircraft and ship efficiency and transportation management;
  • affordable refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pumps made without refrigerants that warm the planet;
  • carbon-free heat and industrial processes that capture emissions for making steel, concrete, chemicals, and other important industrial products;
  • carbon-free hydrogen at a lower cost than hydrogen made from polluting alternatives;
  • innovative soil management, plant biologies, and agricultural techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground;
  • direct air capture systems and retrofits to existing industrial and power plant exhausts to capture carbon dioxide and use it to make alternative products or permanently sequester it deep underground.

As part of that initiative, the Department of Energy announced that $100 million of Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) funds will be directed to the new ARPA-Climate initiative in support of basic research for advanced climate technology.

White House participants in today’s National Climate Task Force meeting:
  • Vice President Kamala Harris
  • John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
  • Gina McCarthy, White House National Climate Advisor
  • Ali Zaidi, deputy White House National Climate Advisor
  • Bruce Reed, White House Deputy Chief of Staff
  • David Hayes, special assistant to the president for climate policy
  • Sonia Aggarwal, Senior Advisor to the President for Climate Policy and Innovation
  • Susan Rice, Director of the United States Domestic Policy Council
  • Nicole Budzinski, Chief of Staff at Office of Management and Budget
  • Brian Deese, Director of the National Economic Council
  • Kei Koizumi, Chief of Staff and Acting Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy; during Obama administration was Assistant Director for Federal Research and Development and Senior Advisor to the Director for the National Science and Technology Council at OSTP
  • Cecilia Martinez, senior director for environmental justice, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
  • Mark Chambers, senior director for building emissions, CEQ; formerly director of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s sustainability office
  • Maggie Thomas, Chief of Staff, Office of Domestic Climate Policy
  • Jahi Wise, senior adviser for climate policy and finance in the Office of Domestic Climate Policy https://coalitionforgreencapital.com/cgcs-jahi-wise-heads-to-white-house-domestic-climate-policy-office/
Departmental participants:
  • Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation
  • Janet Yellen, Secretary of Treasury
  • Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • Tarak Shah, Chief of Staff, Department of Energy
  • Katelyn Walker Mooney, Policy Advisor, Department of Labor, previously the associate general counsel for House labor committee Chairman Bobby Scott
  • Jenn Jones, Chief of Staff, Housing and Urban Development
  • Robert Bonnie, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Senior Advisor, Climate, Department of Agriculture
Unknown roles:
  • Raj Nayak; was on Biden Department of Labor transition team, and deputy Labor chief of staff during the Obama administration
  • Roque Sanchez; was on Biden DOE transition team, and a former White House climate advisor during the Obama administration
Officially, the members of the Climate Task Force are:
  • National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy
  • Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen
  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
  • Attorney General (Merrick Garland, nominated)
  • Secretary of the Interior (Deb Haaland, nominated)
  • Secretary of Agriculture (Tom Vilsack, nominated)
  • Secretary of Commerce (Gina Raimondo, nominated)
  • Secretary of Education (Miguel Cardona, nominated)
  • Secretary of Labor (Marty Walsh, nominated)
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services (Xavier Becerra, nominated)
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Marcia Fudge, nominated)
  • Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
  • Secretary of Energy (Jennifer Granholm, nominated)
  • Secretary of Homeland Security (Alejandro Mayorkas, nominated)
  • Administrator of General Services (no nomination yet)
  • Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (Brenda Mallory, nominated)
  • Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (Michael Regan, nominated)
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Neera Tanden, nominated)
  • Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Eric Lander, nominated)
  • Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Susan Rice
  • Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Jake Sullivan
  • Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall
  • Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Brian Deese

Sanders, Blumenauer, and Ocasio-Cortez Introduce National Climate Emergency Act of 2021

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 04 Feb 2021 15:43:00 GMT

Legislation introduced today by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) calls on the President of the United States to declare a national climate emergency and begin taking action in line with the goals of the Green New Deal resolution introduced in 2019.

The National Climate Emergency Act mandates a presidential declaration of a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, and directs the president to mobilize the nation for climate and economic justice, rebuilding the national labor movement to protect the habitability of our planet.

To ensure accountability to Congress and the American people, the National Climate Emergency Act requires that the president deliver a report within one year of the bill’s enactment (and then every year thereafter until the emergency sunsets) that details the specific actions taken by the executive branch to combat the climate emergency and restore the climate for future generations.

As detailed in the legislation, this should include, but is not limited to, investments in large scale mitigation and resiliency projects, upgrades to public infrastructure, modernization of millions of buildings to cut pollution, investments in public health, protections for public lands, regenerative agriculture investments that support local and regional food systems, and more.

“It might be a good idea for President Biden to call a climate emergency,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last week. “Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall, which wasn’t an emergency. But if there ever was an emergency, climate is one.”

The legislation introduced today is supported by dozens of climate justice organizations including 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, The Climate Mobilization, Food & Water Watch, Labor Network for Sustainability, Progressive Democrats of America, Public Citizen, Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats, Greenpeace, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Align NY, Friends of Earth, and Climate Justice Alliance.

“We are at a life changing, civilization altering moment in our history, as we face a climate crisis that demands a thunderous voice and a full mobilization of every sector to match its scale and its urgency – all while serving as a great opportunity to build a more just and prosperous country,” said Varshini Prakash, Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement. “This bill is a good sign that our leaders are finally understanding what young people and climate activists have been shouting from the rooftops for years – that the fires that burned our homes to rubble, the floods that took our family and friends with them, are a climate emergency, and bold action must be done now to save our humanity and our future.”

“We’re already in a five-alarm emergency for communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel pollution and the climate crisis,” said John Noël, senior climate campaigner of Greenpeace USA. “Our government has squandered precious time in the fight for a liveable planet, and now we need legislation like the Climate Emergency Act to kick things into gear. Congress must mobilize in full force to declare a climate emergency then immediately act to end fossil fuel subsidies and reinstate the crude oil export ban. We have the unprecedented opportunity this year to advance climate, racial, and economic justice, and to create millions of union jobs in the process. This historic legislation is just step one.”

“Obstruction, corporate greed, and denial has left us with just 10 years to rapidly transition off fossil fuels and toward a 100% clean and renewable energy economy,” said Alexandra Rojas, Executive Director, Justice Democrats. “There’s no time to waste in declaring this a national emergency and taking swift action to create millions of good-paying union jobs in the process.”

Full text of the legislation:

A BILL: To require the President to declare a national climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘National Climate Emergency Act of 2021’’ or the ‘‘Climate Emergency Act of 2021’’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds the following:
  1. The years 2010 to 2019 were the hottest decade on record.
  2. Global atmospheric concentrations of the primary global warming pollutant, carbon dioxide—
    1. have increased by 40 percent since preindustrial times, from 280 parts per million to 415 parts per million, primarily due to human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation;
    2. are rising at a rate of 2 to 3 parts per million annually; and
    3. must be reduced to not more than 350 parts per million, and likely lower, ‘‘if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted,’’ according to former National Aeronautics and Space Administration climatologist Dr. James Hansen.
  3. Global atmospheric concentrations of other global warming pollutants, including methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons, have also increased substantially since preindustrial times, primarily due to human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels.
  4. Climate science and observations of climate change impacts, including ocean warming, ocean acidification, floods, droughts, wildfires, and extreme weather, demonstrate that a global rise in temperature of 1.5 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels is already having dangerous impacts on human populations and the environment.
  5. According to the 2018 National Climate Assessment, climate change due to global warming has caused, and is expected to continue to cause, substantial interference with and growing losses to human health and safety, infrastructure, property, industry, recreation, natural resources, agricultural systems, and quality of life in the United States.
  6. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, climate change is already increasing the frequency of extreme weather and other climate-related disasters, including drought, wildfire, and storms that include precipitation.
  7. Climate-related natural disasters have increased exponentially over the past decade, costing the United States more than double the long-term average during the period of 2014 through 2018, with total costs of natural disasters during that period of approximately $100,000,000,000 per year.
  8. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are wide-ranging, acute, and fatal public health consequences from climate change that impact communities across the United States.
  9. According to the National Climate and Health Assessment of the United States Global Change Research Program, climate change is a significant threat to the health of the people of the United States, leading to increased—
    1. temperature-related deaths and illnesses;
    2. air quality impacts;
    3. extreme weather events;
    4. numbers of vector-borne diseases;
    5. waterborne illnesses;
    6. food safety, nutrition, and distribution complications; and
    7. mental health and well-being concerns.
  10. The consequences of climate change already disproportionately impact frontline communities and endanger populations made especially vulnerable by existing exposure to extreme weather events, such as children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing disabilities and health conditions.
  11. Individuals and families on the frontlines of climate change across the United States, including territories, living with income inequality and poverty, institutional racism, inequity on the basis of gender and sexual orientation, poor infrastructure, and lack of access to health care, housing, clean water, and food security are often in close proximity to environmental stressors or sources of pollution, particularly communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities, which—
    1. are often the first exposed to the impacts of climate change;
    2. experience outsized risk because of the close proximity of the community to environmental hazards and stressors, in addition to collocation with waste and other sources of pollution; and
    3. have the fewest resources to mitigate those impacts or to relocate, which will exacerbate preexisting challenges.
  12. According to Dr. Beverly Wright and Dr. Robert Bullard, ‘‘environmental and public health threats from natural and human-made disasters are not randomly distributed, affecting some communities more than others,’’ and therefore a response to the climate emergency necessitates the adoption of policies and processes rooted in principles of racial equity, self-determination, and democracy, as well as the fundamental human rights of all people to clean air and water, healthy food, adequate land, education, and shelter, as promulgated in the 1991 Principles of Environmental Justice.
  13. Climate change holds grave and immediate consequences not just for the population of the United States, including territories, but for communities across the world, particularly those communities in the Global South on the frontlines of the climate crisis that are at risk of forced displacement.
  14. Communities in rural, urban, and suburban areas are all dramatically affected by climate change, though the specific economic, health, social, and environmental impacts may be different.
  15. The Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the intelligence community have identified climate change as a threat to national security, and the Department of Homeland Security views climate change as a top homeland security risk.
  16. Climate change is a threat multiplier with the potential—
    1. to exacerbate many of the challenges the United States already confronts, including conflicts over scarce resources, conditions conducive to violent extremism, and the spread of infectious diseases; and
    2. to produce new, unforeseeable challenges in the future.
  17. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected in 2018 that the Earth could warm 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels as early as 2030.
  18. The climatic changes resulting from global warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, including changes resulting from global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, are projected to result in irreversible, catastrophic changes to public health, livelihoods, quality of life, food security, water supplies, human security, and economic growth.
  19. The United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found in 2019 that human-induced climate change is pushing the planet toward the sixth mass species extinction, which threatens the food security, water supply, and well-being of billions of people.
  20. According to climate scientists, limiting global warming to not more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, and likely lower, is most likely to avoid irreversible and catastrophic climate change.
  21. Even with global warming up to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the planet is projected to experience—
    1. a significant rise in sea levels;
    2. extraordinary loss of biodiversity; and
    3. intensifying droughts, floods, wildfires, and other extreme weather events.
  22. According to climate scientists, addressing the climate emergency will require an economically just phase-out of the use of oil, gas, and coal in order to keep the carbon that is the primary constituent of fossil fuels in the ground and out of the atmosphere.
  23. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that limiting warming through emissions reduction and carbon sequestration will require rapid and immediate acceleration and proliferation of ‘‘far-reaching, multilevel, and cross-sectoral climate mitigation’’ and ‘‘transitions in energy, land, urban and rural infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems’’.
  24. In the United States, massive, comprehensive, and urgent governmental action is required immediately to achieve the transitions of those systems in response to the severe existing and projected economic, social, public health, and national security threats posed by the climate crisis.
  25. The massive scope and scale of action necessary to stabilize the climate will require unprecedented levels of public awareness, engagement, and deliberation to develop and implement effective, just, and equitable policies to address the climate crisis.
  26. The Constitution of the United States protects the fundamental rights to life, liberty, property, and equal protection of the laws.
  27. A climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society, and is preservative of fundamental rights, including the rights to life, liberty, property, personal security, family autonomy, bodily integrity, and the ability to learn, practice, and transmit cultural and religious traditions.
  28. The United States has a proud history of collaborative, constructive, massive-scale Federal mobilizations of resources and labor in order to solve great challenges, such as the Interstate Highway System, the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Reconstruction, the New Deal, and World War II.
  29. The United States stands uniquely poised to substantially grow the economy and attain social and health benefits from a massive mobilization of resources and labor that far outweigh the costs climate change will inflict as a result of inaction.
  30. Millions of middle class jobs can be created by raising labor standards through project labor agreements and protecting and expanding the right of workers to organize so that workers in the United States and the communities of those workers are guaranteed a strong, viable economic future in a zero-emissions economy that guarantees good jobs at fair union wages with quality benefits.
  31. Frontline communities, Tribal governments and communities, people of color, and labor unions must be equitably and actively engaged in the climate mobilization, in such a way that aligns with the 1996 Jemez Principles of Democratic Organizing, and prioritized through local climate mitiga tion and adaptation planning, policy, and program delivery so that workers in the United States, and the communities of those workers, are guaranteed a strong, viable economic future.
  32. A number of local jurisdictions and governments in the United States, including New York City and Los Angeles, and across the world, including the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Portugal, and Canada, have already declared a climate emergency, and a number of State and local governments are considering declaring a climate emergency.
  33. State, local, and Tribal governments must be supported in efforts to hold to account those whose activities have deepened and accelerated the climate crisis and who have benefitted from delayed action to address the climate change emergency and to develop a clean energy economy.
  34. A collaborative response to the climate crisis will require the Federal Government to work with international, State, and local governments, including with those governments that have declared a climate emergency, to reverse the impacts of the climate crisis.
  35. The United States has an obligation, as a primary driver of accelerated climate change, to mobilize at emergency speed to restore a safe climate and environment not just for communities of the United States but for communities across the world, particularly those on the frontlines of the climate crisis which have least contributed to the crisis, and to account for global and community impacts of any actions it takes in response to the climate crisis.
SEC. 3. EMERGENCY DECLARATION.
  1. IN GENERAL.—The President shall declare a national emergency under section 201 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1621) with respect to climate change.
  2. RESPONSE.—In responding to the national emergency declared pursuant to subsection (a), the President shall ensure that the Federal Government—
    1. invests in large scale mitigation and resiliency projects, including projects that—
      1. upgrade the public infrastructure to expand access to clean and affordable energy, transportation, high-speed broadband, and water, particularly for public systems;
      2. modernize and retrofit millions of homes, schools, offices, and industrial buildings to cut pollution and costs;
      3. invest in public health, in preparation for and in response to increasingly extreme climatic events;
      4. protect and restore wetlands, forests, public lands, and other natural climate solutions;
      5. create opportunities for farmers and rural communities, including by bolstering regenerative agriculture, and invest in local and regional food systems that support farmers, agricultural workers, healthy soil, and climate resilience;
      6. develop and transform the industrial base of the United States, while creating high-skill, high-wage manufacturing jobs across the country, including by expanding manufacturing of clean technologies, reducing industrial pollution, and prioritizing clean, domestic manufacturing for the aforementioned investments; and
      7. establish new employment programs, as necessary, to meet the goals described in subparagraphs (A) through (F);
    2. makes investments that enable—
      1. a racially and socially just transition to a clean energy economy by ensuring that at least 40 percent of investments flow to historically disadvantaged communities;
      2. greenhouse gas emission reductions;
      3. resilience in the face of climate change impacts;
      4. a racially and socially just transition to a clean energy economy;
      5. small business support, especially for women and minority-owned businesses; and
      6. the expansion of public services;
    3. avoids solutions that—
      1. increase inequality;
      2. exacerbate, or fail to reduce, pollution at source;
      3. violate human rights;
      4. privatize public lands, water, or nature;
      5. expedite the destruction of ecosystems; or
      6. decrease union density or membership;
    4. creates jobs that conform to labor standards that—
      1. provide family-sustaining wages and benefits;
      2. ensure safe workplaces;
      3. protect the rights of workers to organize; and
      4. prioritize the hiring of local workers to ensure wages stay within communities and stimulate local economic activity;
    5. prioritizes local and equitable hiring and contracting that creates opportunities for—
      1. communities of color and indigenous communities;
      2. women;
      3. veterans;
      4. LGBTQIA+ individuals;
      5. disabled and chronically ill individuals;
      6. formerly incarcerated individuals; and
      7. otherwise marginalized communities;
    6. combats environmental injustice, including by—
      1. curtailing air, water, and land pollution from all sources;
      2. removing health hazards from communities;
      3. remediating the cumulative health and environmental impacts of toxic pollution and climate change;
      4. ensuring that affected communities have equitable access to public health resources that have been systemically denied to communities of color and Indigenous communities; and
      5. upholding the fundamental rights of all Americans from the perils of climate change; and
    7. reinvests in existing public sector institutions and creates new public sector institutions, inspired by and improving upon New Deal-era institutions by addressing historic inequities, to strategically and coherently mobilize and channel investments at the scale and pace required by the national emergency declared pursuant to subsection (a).
  3. REPORT.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, and every year thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress a report describing actions taken in response to the national emergency declared pursuant to subsection (a).

Green New Appalachia: The Smart Way To Sell Climate Action To Joe Manchin

Posted by Billy Fleming Fri, 08 Jan 2021 04:40:00 GMT

This post is an expanded version of a Twitter thread.

With the pair of Democratic U.S. Senate victories in Georgia, the Democratic Party will have control of the White House and both chambers of Congress come January 20th. West Virginia’s Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, will become the chair of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and will hold tremendous power over any climate legislation.

While I’m sure that part of bribing Manchin to go along with a series of climate bills as bold as President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign platform will require funds for coal-industry boondoggles like direct air capture and carbon-capture sequestration, as well as for advanced nuclear technology, we ought to be a bit more creative than that.

Here are a few other ideas to consider:
  • New funds for building pumped hydroelectric storage facilities in Appalachia. These use abandoned coal mines to create a low-tech battery for renewable energy storage, pumping water into the uphill mines when production is high and releasing it through turbines when it wanes.
  • Ending the federal grant program that incentivizes converting abandoned strip mines into federal prisons. Those funds should go toward building up the clean energy and electrovoltaic manufacturing facilities in Appalachia on sites that have already been cleared or flattened sites that are adjacent to transportation infrastructure.
  • Decommissioning the network of prisons in Appalachia, converting their onsite and resilient electricity generation infrastructure into community-based electric co-ops. Every prison there has the ability to island itself off from the grid and power itself. Give that power to the people of Appalachia.
  • Investing in the now-closed north-south railway that could connect Appalachia to Atlanta in the South, Pittsburgh to the North, Columbus and St. Louis to the West, and the entire northeast corridor to the East. A massive corridor already exists and just needs track upgrades for it to be active.
  • Offering Appalachia up as the first pilot site for a new Climate Conservation Corps that puts people to work capping orphaned wells, remediating brownfield and other toxic sites, and reforesting the hiking, hunting, and other recreational landscapes of the region.

The best part of it all is that “bribing” Joe Manchin to go along with a more progressive climate agenda is really just a way of driving investment to some of the people and places that need it most—in this case, Central Appalachia.

Billy Fleming is the Wilks Family Director of the Ian L. McHarg Center in the Weitzman School of Design. and a senior fellow with Data for Progress.

Biden Names John Kerry As Special Climate Envoy, With Seat on National Security Council

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 23 Nov 2020 21:08:00 GMT

President-elect Joe Biden has named former senator and Secretary of State John Kerry as his special envoy for climate, sitting on the National Security Council. Throughout his long career of public service, Kerry has been an ardent environmentalist who seeks to find common ground through diplomacy. His approach has found greater success on the international stage than with American conservatives, despite repeated attempts.

As a Massachusetts senator, Kerry worked desperately to salvage climate legislation when it was abandoned by the Obama White House following the Tea Party uprising of 2009. Lacking a unified Democratic caucus, Kerry tried without success to find Republican votes for climate legislation by working with former running mate Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

As Obama’s second Secretary of State, John Kerry’s diplomatic leadership was key to the successful Paris agreement, which marked a dramatic turnaround from the 2009 debacle of the Copenhagen climate talks. His support for killing the Canada-to-US Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline – in response to powerful pressure from climate activists – was also a change in direction from Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton, who fast-tracked the permit process for the project. Like Clinton, however, Secretary of State Kerry was bullish on fracking as a means of energy diplomacy, despite its threat to the climate.

Kerry’s diplomatic approach has borne less fruit at home. Republicans such as Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump mocked Secretary Kerry for calling global warming “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction,” presaging the burn-it-all-down Trump presidency.

During the Trump years, Kerry founded a new organization called World War Zero, still attempting to find Republicans to get on board with climate action. Although Kerry’s organization supposedly intends to build a broad coalition of climate activists, World War Zero’s Republican participants include climate-science skeptic John Kasich, who mocks youth climate activists and vilifies the Green New Deal.

In his role Kerry will face several challenges unresolved by previous administrations. To date, immigration, trade, peace, and climate policy have been treated as wholly distinct milieus by government and advocates alike. Remarkably, even energy and climate diplomacy have largely operated on parallel tracks, with clashing agendas.

A critical test will be whether Kerry has say over international trade agreements which have always trumped climate negotiations. The so-called free-trade agenda has rendered international climate deals moot.

Similarly, it remains to be seen if Kerry will be an effective spokesman for the global South as it is ravaged by fossil-fueled storms and floods and drought, destabilizing governments and fueling the global migration crisis.

The military euphemism is that climate pollution is a “threat multiplier” – in other words, global conflict is now defined by the devastation to human civilization that results from the industrial destabilization of a habitable climate.

In response to this rising destabilization, right-wing movements around the globe have seized on the politics of militarized nativism and environmental exploitation, described approvingly by white-nationalist ecologist Garrett Hardin as “lifeboat ethics” in 1974.

One hopes that Kerry’s position on the National Security Council could mean the US military may shift away from its longtime role as the armed protection for the global oil industry. Kerry is highly interested in the military’s role during the Anthropocene. With his World War Zero campaign, Kerry has brought together a long list of military brass and former Defense Department officials.

Unfortunately, the primary narrative for climate policy within military circles is one of responding to the rising threats of climate destruction, with little to no engagement in ending climate pollution.

Of course, Kerry can’t guide international climate policy on his own. The makeup of Biden’s team will determine what is possible.

Rahm Emanuel, the neoliberal who was instrumental in killing White House support for climate legislation as Obama’s chief of staff, is being considered for U.S. Trade Representative. His selection would be a devastating setback.

Biden campaign advisor Heather Zichal, who has become notorious for joining the fracked-gas industry after leaving the Obama White House, came to prominence as the top Kerry climate policy staffer on his presidential campaign and in his Senate office. Zichal has been mentioned as a possible high-level staffer in the Biden White House despite broad opposition from climate activists.

Biden’s pick for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, began his career studying fossil-fuel geopolitics. He wrote his dissertation in the 1980s on the Siberian pipeline crisis, in which the Reagan administration imposed far-reaching sanctions on oil-sector technology sharing in an attempt to block the pipeline’s construction. Blinken criticized the sanctions effort. His career since has been interventionist and pro-fossil-fuel development.

Surmounting the challenges of being Biden’s international climate czar will be a life-defining test for the 76-year-old statesman.

Biden Names John Kerry As Special Climate Envoy, With Seat on National Security Council

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 23 Nov 2020 21:08:00 GMT

President-elect Joe Biden has named former senator and Secretary of State John Kerry as his special envoy for climate, sitting on the National Security Council. Throughout his long career of public service, Kerry has been an ardent environmentalist who seeks to find common ground through diplomacy. His approach has found greater success on the international stage than with American conservatives, despite repeated attempts.

As a Massachusetts senator, Kerry worked desperately to salvage climate legislation when it was abandoned by the Obama White House following the Tea Party uprising of 2009. Lacking a unified Democratic caucus, Kerry tried without success to find Republican votes for climate legislation by working with former running mate Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

As Obama’s second Secretary of State, John Kerry’s diplomatic leadership was key to the successful Paris agreement, which marked a dramatic turnaround from the 2009 debacle of the Copenhagen climate talks. His support for killing the Canada-to-US Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline – in response to powerful pressure from climate activists – was also a change in direction from Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton, who fast-tracked the permit process for the project. Like Clinton, however, Secretary of State Kerry was bullish on fracking as a means of energy diplomacy, despite its threat to the climate.

Kerry’s diplomatic approach has borne less fruit at home. Republicans such as Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump mocked Secretary Kerry for calling global warming “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction,” presaging the burn-it-all-down Trump presidency.

During the Trump years, Kerry founded a new organization called World War Zero, still attempting to find Republicans to get on board with climate action. Although Kerry’s organization supposedly intends to build a broad coalition of climate activists, World War Zero’s Republican participants include climate-science skeptic John Kasich, who mocks youth climate activists and vilifies the Green New Deal.

In his role Kerry will face several challenges unresolved by previous administrations. To date, immigration, trade, peace, and climate policy have been treated as wholly distinct milieus by government and advocates alike. Remarkably, even energy and climate diplomacy have largely operated on parallel tracks, with clashing agendas.

A critical test will be whether Kerry has say over international trade agreements which have always trumped climate negotiations. The so-called free-trade agenda has rendered international climate deals moot.

Similarly, it remains to be seen if Kerry will be an effective spokesman for the global South as it is ravaged by fossil-fueled storms and floods and drought, destabilizing governments and fueling the global migration crisis.

The military euphemism is that climate pollution is a “threat multiplier” – in other words, global conflict is now defined by the devastation to human civilization that results from the industrial destabilization of a habitable climate.

In response to this rising destabilization, right-wing movements around the globe have seized on the politics of militarized nativism and environmental exploitation, described approvingly by white-nationalist ecologist Garrett Hardin as “lifeboat ethics” in 1974.

One hopes that Kerry’s position on the National Security Council could mean the US military may shift away from its longtime role as the armed protection for the global oil industry. Kerry is highly interested in the military’s role during the Anthropocene. With his World War Zero campaign, Kerry has brought together a long list of military brass and former Defense Department officials.

Unfortunately, the primary narrative for climate policy within military circles is one of responding to the rising threats of climate destruction, with little to no engagement in ending climate pollution.

Of course, Kerry can’t guide international climate policy on his own. The makeup of Biden’s team will determine what is possible.

Rahm Emanuel, the neoliberal who was instrumental in killing White House support for climate legislation as Obama’s chief of staff, is being considered for U.S. Trade Representative. His selection would be a devastating setback.

Biden campaign advisor Heather Zichal, who has become notorious for joining the fracked-gas industry after leaving the Obama White House, came to prominence as the top Kerry climate policy staffer on his presidential campaign and in his Senate office. Zichal has been mentioned as a possible high-level staffer in the Biden White House despite broad opposition from climate activists.

Biden’s pick for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, began his career studying fossil-fuel geopolitics. He wrote his dissertation in the 1980s on the Siberian pipeline crisis, in which the Reagan administration imposed far-reaching sanctions on oil-sector technology sharing in an attempt to block the pipeline’s construction. Blinken criticized the sanctions effort. His career since has been interventionist and pro-fossil-fuel development.

Surmounting the challenges of being Biden’s international climate czar will be a life-defining test for the 76-year-old statesman.

"Climate Mandate": Sunrise and Justice Democrats Call For a Green New Deal Biden Cabinet

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 17 Nov 2020 14:32:00 GMT

The youth-led Sunrise Movement and progressive political group Justice Democrats have teamed up for the Climate Mandate campaign to push President-elect Biden to assemble a progressive governing team. Their message:

“President-elect Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump with the highest youth turnout ever. Now, Joe Biden must assemble a powerful governing team to stop the climate crisis, create millions of good-paying jobs, address systemic racism, and control the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The “Climate Cabinet” should have no ties to fossil fuel companies, or corporate lobbyists; be representative of America; and “fight with the urgency that the climate crisis demands,” the groups say.

In addition, they are calling for the formation of the White House Office of Climate Mobilization to coordinate efforts across agencies.

They offer three recommendations each for many Cabinet-level agencies, with a top pick listed first. The list leans heavily into the progressive caucus of the House of Representatives, not surprisingly previously endorsed for election by the groups. The list does not include some major departments, like Defense and Energy. Some of their recommendations, like Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) for Interior, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for Treasury, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for Labor, are known to be on Biden’s short list of candidates.

People can support the effort by signing a petition for a “fierce and creative governing team” to “build back better from the crises we’re in.”

In an aggressive video promoting the effort, the groups ask of Biden: “Will he be the leader of the American majority, or will he be Mitch McConnell’s vice president?”

Their recommended picks:

Interior :”A visionary Secretary of the Interior has enormous latitude to crack down on giveaways to fossil fuel corporations, like permits to drill for oil on public lands and in public waters. With a progressive leader at the helm, we can make real progress. As the first Native American to hold this position, Rep. Deb Haaland would usher in a new era of Indigenous authority over stolen land. She is a fierce ally of our movement who has fought for renewable energy job creation in the House as Vice Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.”
  • Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.)
  • Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
  • Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.)
State :”America needs a Secretary of State who will raise the level of ambition for climate action throughout the world. Beyond rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, the next Secretary of State can convene world leaders during the first 100 days to ratchet up the global response to climate change. Rep. Barbara Lee is one of a few brave Congressional Representatives who voted against the Iraq War. Her foresight would end the era of oil wars. She introduced the Women and Climate Change Act to develop coordinated strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change on women and girls around the world.”
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)
  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Treasury :”A bold Secretary of the Treasury can help transform the country’s spending priorities, even without Congress. By steering federal money to programs that encourage the development of renewable energy job creation, a Treasury Department can make real progress. Senator Warren has been a visionary leader, and one of our staunchest allies in Congress. She’s taken on Wall Street her entire career, and fought for transformative change in her presidential campaign. She’s a Green New Deal champion, and has called for transformative investments to tackle climate change and create millions of good union jobs.”
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
  • Sarah Bloom Raskin, former member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and former United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
  • Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor
Attorney General :”A visionary Attorney General can stand up for justice, work to dismantle systemic racism, and hold polluters accountable for their crimes by enforcing clean air and water laws already on the books, and using others to go after fossil fuel corporations who profit off of deception about climate change. Keith Ellison is the Attorney General of Minnesota, and a longtime progressive leader. He has sued Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute over their campaign of deception about climate change, and took George Floyd’s killers to court. As the first-ever Muslim Member of Congress, he co-chaired the Progressive Caucus.”
  • Keith Ellison, Minnesota Attorney General
  • Larry Krasner, Philadelphia District Attorney
  • Dana Nussel, Minnesota Attorney General
Council of Economic Advisors :”The Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) is a key leader who helps guide the nation’s economic strategy. A visionary leader at the helm can help the nation build back better, guarantee every American a good job, expand workers rights, and deliver investment equitably to every community, whether Black, white, brown, Indigenous, urban or rural. Darrick Hamilton is a leading expert on closing the racial wealth gap and a strong advocate for a federal jobs guarantee.”
  • Darrick Hamilton, Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University
  • Stephanie Kelton, professor of economics and public policy at Stony Brook University
  • Heidi Shierholz, Senior Economist and Director of Policy, Economic Policy Institute
  • National Economic Council* :”A progressive Director of the National Economic Council will have a pivotal role in helping the president build back better, guarantee every American a good job, expand workers rights, and deliver investment equitably to every community. Joseph Stiglitz is a world-renowned economist who has called for a mobilization to confront climate change on par with mobilizing for a third world war.”
  • Joseph Stiglitz, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
  • Bharat Ramamurti, managing director, Roosevelt Institute
  • Manuel Pastor, director, USC Equity Research Institute
Labor :”America needs a Secretary of Labor ready to create green jobs with good pay and good benefits, and who can create a Civilian Climate Corps to employ millions of people to do the urgent work of repairing and strengthening our communities in the face of climate change. Senator Sanders has shifted American politics to focus on solutions at the scale of the crises workers are experiencing. He can bring the power of the federal government to every labor contract negotiation. He can lead the push to create millions of good-paying jobs as we mobilize to stop climate change.”
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
  • Mary Kay Henry, SEIU President
  • Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.)
Environmental Protection Agency :”A visionary EPA Administrator can do a lot to combat the climate crisis without Congress. It’s not just undoing Trump’s rollbacks of clean air and water standards; an EPA Administrator who understands the urgency of the crisis can help electrify the economy by enacting new standards for green vehicles and buildings. Mustafa Ali is a visionary environmental justice leader who began working on social justice issues at the age of 16. He joined the EPA as a student, and is one of the country’s most respected voices on climate and environmental justice issues.”
  • Mustafa Santiago Ali, former EPA assistant associate administrator
  • Kevin De Léon, former California Senate Senate Leader
  • Heather McTeer Toney, Director, Moms Clean Air Force
Housing and Urban Development :”America needs a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who understands our vision for a Green New Deal for public housing, because ending homelessness and moving our economy to clean energy must go hand in hand. Rep. Rashida Tlaib is a progressive powerhouse, and the author of the People’s Housing Platform—a groundbreaking, progressive housing framework that declares housing as a fundamental human right. She is also a champion of environmental justice and addressing the disparate health impacts of fossil fuel emissions on frontline communities.”
  • Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)
  • Jumaane Williams, New York City Public Advocate
  • Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.)
Transportation :”America needs a Secretary of Transportation who is ready to combat climate change by building accessible public transit for all. A visionary in charge could redirect federal grants towards electric vehicle charging station, and public transit. Rep. García is one of the first Mexican immigrants to serve as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has been a leader in calling for federal transportation and infrastructure policies that address climate change.”
  • Rep. Chuy García (D-Ill.)
  • Sara Nelson, President, Association of Flight Attendants
  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)
Agriculture :”America needs a Secretary of Agriculture who will bring investment and economic opportunity to family farmers and rural communities. By investing in local and regional food systems that support farmers, agricultural workers, healthy soil, and climate resilience, the next Secretary of Agriculture can ensure economic security while advancing our fight against climate change. Rep. Chellie Pingree has been an organic farmer for more than 40 years and recognizes that farmers are allies in the fight against climate change. She is Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Committee on Interior and Environment and serves on the Subcommittee on Agriculture of the House Appropriations Committee.”
  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)
  • Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio)
  • Sen. Cory Bookery (D-N.J.)
Health and Human Services :”All people have a right to quality health care. The COVID pandemic has demonstrated all too tragically the interconnected threads of environmental injustice, lack of access to affordable health care, and mortality from new risks. A visionary Health and Human Services Secretary can work to expand access to health care for all. Rep. Pramila Jayapal is a progressive powerhouse, and the first South Asian American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She’s a leading proponent of Medicare for All, and a key champion of the Green New Deal.”
  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)
  • Dr. Abdul El Sayed, former candidate for governor of Michigan
  • Dr. Donald Berwick, former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Sunrise: What Comes Next After Election Day?

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 05 Nov 2020 02:00:00 GMT

Even after every vote has been cast, the fight for the Green New Deal will be far from over.

We know it might take days or even weeks for every ballot to be counted. Trump is already openly refusing to leave office even if he loses. And even if Joe Biden is declared the winner, we need to make it clear from Day 1 that we won’t back down until he makes the Green New Deal the law of the land.

The day after the election, our movement will come together to take stock, regroup and chart our course ahead. Sign up to join our call Wednesday 11/4 from 9-10pm ET / 6-7pm PT.

Biden: Climate Change Is 'The Number One Issue For Me'

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 28 Oct 2020 17:16:00 GMT

Speaking on the Pod Save America show, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden explained that acting on climate change is his top priority and why he doesn’t expect another fossil-fueled electricity plant to be built in the United States.

Biden told hosts Dan Pfeiffer and Jon Lovett, both former Obama White House staff, “It’s the number one issue facing humanity. And it’s the number one issue for me.”

Biden’s campaign is running multiple ads on television and the Internet highlighting the costs of climate pollution to Americans and Donald Trump’s climate denial.

Biden argued that because of the Recovery Act “which [Obama] gave me the authority to run,” “we were able to invest in bringing down the cost of renewable energy to compete with coal, gas, and oil.” The Recovery Act did play a significant role in spurring renewable energy deployment, including wind manufacturing, although other countries have seen solar power costs decline even more rapidly than the U.S. (The Recovery Act’s energy components were primarily overseen by Joseph Aldy.)

“It’s becoming a fait accompli,” Biden continued, “No one’s going to build another oil or gas-fired electric plant. They’re going to build one that is fired by renewable energy.”

Biden’s prediction runs counter to current industry projections, which bullishly expect continued growth even though Biden is right about the financial advantage of renewable power. If a Biden administration restores sanity to the U.S. power market by eliminating distortionary subsidies for the construction of new natural-gas plants, his expectation may come true.

In the interview, Biden went on to claim that in the 1980s he was “the first person ever to lay out the need to deal with global warming,” and that Politifact said “it was a game changer.” This bit of puffery refers to his successful introduction in 1987 of the Global Climate Protection Act, amending Rep. George Brown (D-Calif.)’s 1978 Global Climate Program Act (15 USC Chapter 56) to explicitly discuss manmade global warming as a U.S. policy priority.

Biden was far from the first in the world (or in the U.S. Congress) to call attention to the greenhouse effect, however. Scientists raised the specter of global warming in congressional testimony in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Clean Air Act of 1970 explicitly mentioned climate pollution. Hearings for Rep. Brown’s legislation began in 1976.

Politifact has confirmed Biden’s considerably less grandiose claim that he was “one of the first guys to introduce a climate change bill,” which is entirely accurate. However, Politifact did not call his bill a “game changer,” a false claim Biden has repeatedly made. Rather, they cited Josh Howe, a professor of history and environmental studies at Reed College, who said it was “important not to overstate the impact of Biden’s bill.”

Consistent with the campaign spots, Biden explained why he believes “we have a moral obligation to everyone” to act on climate change:
Look what’s happening right now. You just look around the United States of America. Forests are burning at a rate larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined being lost. People are losing their homes, their lives. In the middle of the country, we’re in a situation where you have 100-year floods occurring every several years wiping out entire, entire counties, and doing great damage.

He argued that the United States makes up “15 [percent] of the problem” and other countries are responsible for the rest. (The United States is actually responsible for about 25 percent of cumulative climate pollution.)

Calling it “bizarre” that everyone doesn’t recognize the economic potential of climate action, Biden noted that “the fastest growing industries are solar and wind.” This remarkable claim is essentially correct: solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians share the top three spots with nurse practitioners as the fastest growing professions in the United States.

Biden noted these jobs are “not paying 15 bucks an hour, they’re paying prevailing wage.” He did overstate the quality of these jobs, saying they pay “45 to 50 bucks an hour, plus benefits,” or a $90,000 annual salary. The actual median wage of solar installers and wind technicians is closer to $50,000, which is still considerably more than a $15-an-hour ($30,000 annual) salary.

The solar industry largely opposes unionization, something Biden has elsewhere pledged to change.

Full Transcript:

LOVETT: Trump seemed to think he had a kind of gotcha moment there at the end when you talked about transitioning away from oil and fossil fuels, even though ending subsidies for those industries is very popular. And he really wishes you’d say you’d ban fracking, even though you haven’t. At the same time, you’ve set these ambitious climate goals as part of your plan. And a lot of polling shows that climate change is the number one issue among young people, particularly among young people deciding whether or not to vote. What is your message to those young people who are passionate about this issue but skeptical that they can count on you, or really any politician, to actually deliver and take this issue with the urgency it demands?

BIDEN: It’s the number one issue facing humanity. And it’s the number one issue for me. And all the way back in the 80s—I’m the first person ever, ever to lay out the need for a, to deal with global warming. And back in those—and Politifact said, “Check it out, it was a game changer.” And, but, it’s just the way in which this campaign had been run from the beginning about me in the primaries that it just never got traction.

Look, climate change is the existential threat to humanity. The existential threat to humanity. Unchecked, it is going to actually bake this planet. Not—this is not hyperbole. It’s real. And we have a moral obligation. There’s not many things—Dan and I worked together a long time. You don’t hear me often invoke a moral obligation. We have a moral obligation, not just to young people, we have a moral obligation to everyone.

Look what’s happening right now. You just look around the United States of America. Forests are burning at a rate larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined being lost. People are losing their homes, their lives. In the middle of the country, we’re in a situation where you have 100-year floods occurring every several years wiping out entire, entire counties, and doing great damage.

And by the way, as Dan, you may remember, the first thing that Barack [Obama] and I were told about when we took, when we went over to, were taking to the, over to the Defense Department, they said the greatest threat facing, the greatest security threat America faces is climate change. Because what’s going to happen, you can see massive movements of populations fighting over land. Fighting over the ability to live. And it, it is an existential threat.

And so I just think—but also presents an enormous opportunity. It’s a bizarre. You know, we’re one of the few countries in the world that’s always been able to take things that are serious problems and turn them into opportunities. It’s also the vehicle by which we can not only save the planet, but we can generate such economic growth and lead the world. But we have two problems.

One, we have an internal problem in the United States. What are we going to do? We make up, we make up 15 of the problem but we’re in a position where the rest of the 85 percent of the world’s responsible for the rest. We can go, we can go net neutral in terms of carbon tomorrow, and we’re still going to have our shores flooded. We’re still going to have these terrific hurricanes. The polar caps are going to continue to melt. We’re going to have, we’re going to have hurricanes and storms that will, and they’re going to increase.

And so we have to do two things. We need a president who can lead the world. That’s why I was so deeply involved in setting up the existence of the Paris climate accord. As well as do the things we have to do and can do.

And the last point I’ll make—I’m happy any detail you’d like me to, but the last point I’d make is that, you know the way we have to do this is we—you know we cannot discount the concerns of people what it means to their well-being. And not only in the future. And now but what about how they make a living.

That’s why I’m the first person I’m aware of that went to every major labor union in the country and got them to sign on to my climate change plan, which is extensive.

We’re going to get to zero net emissions for the production of electricity by 2035. And it’s going to create millions of jobs. But we got to let people— we can’t be cavalier about the impact it’s going to have on how we’re going to transition to do all this. But I just think it’s a gigantic opportunity, a gigantic opportunity to create really good jobs.

LOVETT: What do you see as the relationship you’re going to have? So a lot of climate activists— You have said basically, “We have to do everything we can to get Joe Biden in office. It’s an existential threat.” And then their plan is they’re going to put a ton of pressure on you to make sure that you really deliver on solutions around climate change. What do you expect to do?

BIDEN: I’m going to put pressure on them. I’m going to put pressure on them to live up to what their, this cause they talk about. And it starts off with voting. It starts off with volunteering. It starts off with making sure that they’re organizing, and they’re taking care to make sure that people on the, on the, on the fence-line communities get taken care of. Make sure the priorities are set. So we end up in a situation where people who are hurt the most could help the quickest.

You know, it’s—this is, uh you know I, I understand the sense. But the fact is that, look, the first thing we’re gonna do is make sure that we use the ability we have now, and I will as president, to do away with a hundred changes in, in, in executive orders he’s, and he’s put forward to do everything from allow more methane to seep into the, into the atmosphere, allow to pollute rivers, a whole range of things. We can do that very very quickly.

But it’s also going to require us to make sure that we deal with what we have to do now. For example, we should—you know, as you guys know, because you both worked in administrations, that the President of the United States has control over 600 billion dollars in signing federal contracts. Everything from one of the largest auto fleets and trucking fleets in the world to infrastructure.

When as, as—Daniel remember when the president asked me to handle, make sure we got the Recovery Act and 800 billion dollars was going to be distributed to keep us from going into a depression, he gave me the authority to run that from beginning to end. And what we did was we were able to invest in bringing down the cost of renewable energy to compete with coal, gas, and oil.

And so now you see what’s happening. It’s becoming a fait accompli. No one’s going to build another oil or gas-fired electric plant. They’re going to build one that is fired by renewable energy.

We have to invest billions of dollars in making sure that we’re able to transmit over our lines. You may remember, Dan, when we sat in that of those office buildings in the between, the interregnum period there, and we thought we could just make sure we could transfer this through, this renewable energy across the country at all? Remember we had that big map up, and we showed all the, all the high tension wires were going to go? Well—

PFEIFFER: Smart grid.

BIDEN: That’s right. Exactly right. But what happened? What happened was Not-In-My-Neighborhood people didn’t want to have high-tension wires in their neighborhood. So what we’re going to do, and what’s happening now—and working on this for three years you have a lot of folks in Silicon Valley and other places doing research on battery technology. So now we’re going to be able to store—for example, they can have a battery about as wide as my, the, the width of my arms and about this thick—that if you have solar power in your home, you—and the sun doesn’t shine for a week, that battery will store it. You’re going to be able to have all the energy you need in the meantime.

We’re going to provide 550,000 charging stations—for real!—on the new infrastructure, green infrastructure we’re going to be building. We’re going to own the electric automobile market. We’re going to create a million jobs in doing that.

These aren’t—this is not hyperbole—these are things that have been run through by economists and Wall Street and, and also by people who are in, in, in, in the thought community, the people who are running these major institutions.

And so there’s so much we can do. And we can create a clean environment. We can also grow the economy and get people good wages. The fastest growing industries are solar and wind. Solar and wind. And they’re not paying 15 bucks an hour, they’re paying prevailing wage. Every single contract the president gave me the authority to let when we were running the Recovery Act, every single one, paid prevailing wage. That’s 45 to 50 bucks an hour, plus benefits. And so that’s how we’re going to grow this economy.

Report: Big Law Overwhelmingly Supports Big Carbon

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 01 Oct 2020 21:11:00 GMT

The 2020 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard is the first to detail the scale of top law firms’ role in the climate crisis. Using the best data available, the Law Students for Climate Accountability assessed litigation, transactional, and lobbying work conducted by the 2020 Vault Law 100 law firms—the 100 most prestigious law firms in the United States—from 2015 to 2019.

Their findings:

  • Vault 100 firms worked on ten times as many cases exacerbating climate change as cases addressing climate change: 286 cases compared to 27 cases.
  • Vault 100 firms were the legal advisors on five times more transactional work for the fossil fuel industry than the renewable energy industry: $1.3 trillion of transactions compared to $271 billion of transactions.
  • Vault 100 firms lobbied five times more for fossil fuel companies than renewable energy companies: for $36.5 million in compensation compared to $6.8 million in compensation.
There are four firms that have only engaged in pro-climate work in the covered period, earning an A grade:
  • Cozen O’Connor
  • Schulte Roth & Zabel
  • Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton
  • Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
The worst firms include:
  • Paul, Weiss worked on as many cases exacerbating climate change as 62 other Vault 100 firms combined.
  • Allen & Overy was the legal advisor on more transactional work for the fossil fuel industry than 78 other Vault 100 firms combined.
  • Hogan Lovells lobbied more for fossil fuel companies than 92 other Vault 100 firms combined.
  • Latham & Watkins is the only firm to be in the Top 5 Worst Firms for both transactions and litigation exacerbating climate change

The report also details the work that Latham & Watkins, Norton Rose Fulbright, Vinson & Elkins, Gibson Dunn, Baker Botts, and Greenberg Traurig did on behalf of the Dakota Access Pipeline project, including numerous efforts to crack down on the water defenders.

The group is calling on law students and firms to take the Law Firm Climate Responsibility Pledge to stop taking on new fossil fuel industry work, continue to take on renewable energy industry work and litigation to fight climate change, and to completely phase out fossil fuel work by 2025.

Top 5 Worst Firms for Litigation
  • Paul Weiss: 21 cases (7x the average)
  • Gibson Dunn: 18 cases
  • Sidley Austin: 16 cases
  • Latham & Watkins: 13 cases
  • Tie: Baker & Hostetler / Baker Botts / Munger, Tolles: 10 cases
Top 5 Worst Firms for Transactions
  • Allen & Overy: $153,365,000,000 (15x the average)
  • Vinson & Elkins: $108,217,000,000
  • Latham & Watkins: $94,815,000,000
  • Clifford Chance: $83,708,000,000
  • Milbank: $59,180,000,000
Top 5 Worst Firms for Lobbying
  • Hogan Lovells: $7,085,000 (24x the average)
  • Akin Gump: $6,820,000
  • Squire Patton Boggs: $4,755,000
  • McGuire Woods: $2,320,000
  • Steptoe & Johnson: $1,920,000

Download the full report.

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