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

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.

The Biden-Trump Climate Debate, Transcribed With An Attempt At Accurately Portraying Trump's Interruptions And Identifying His Falsehoods

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 01 Oct 2020 01:47:00 GMT

WALLACE: I would like to talk about climate change.
BIDEN: So would I.
WALLACE: Okay. The forest fires in the west are raging now. They have burned millions of acres. They have displaced hundreds of thousands of people. When state officials there blame the fires on climate change, Mr. President, you said, 'I don't think the science knows.' Over your four years, you have pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord. You have rolled back a number of Obama environmental records [sic]. What do you believe about the science of climate change and what will you do in the next four years to confront it?
TRUMP: I want crystal clean water and air. I want beautiful clean air. We have now the lowest carbon. If you look at our numbers right now, we are doing phenomenally. [Ed.: False.] But I haven't destroyed our businesses. Our businesses aren't put out of commission. If you look at the Paris accord, it was a disaster from our standpoint. And people are actually very happy about what is going on, because our businesses are doing well.

As far as the fires are concerned, you need forest management in addition to everything else. The forest floors are loaded up with trees, dead trees that are years old, and they're like tinder and leaves and everything else. You drop a cigarette in there, the whole forest burns down. You've gotta have forest management, you've gotta have cuts ...
WALLACE: What do you believe about the science of climate change, sir?
TRUMP: Uh, I believe that we have to do everything we can to have immaculate air, immaculate water and do whatever else we can that's good. You know, we'e planting a billion trees, the billion tree project, and it's very exciting to a lot of people.
WALLACE: Do you believe that human pollution, gas, greenhouse gas emissions contributes to the global warming of the planet?
TRUMP: I think that lot of things do, but to an extent yes, I think to an extent yes, but I also think we have to do better management of our forests. Every year, I get the call, California's burning, California is burning. If that was cleaned, if that were, if you had forest management, good forest management, you wouldn't be getting those calls. You know, in Europe they live their forest cities. They're called forest cities and they maintain their forests. I was with the head of a major country it's a forest city. He said, 'Sir, we have trees that are far more, they ignite much easier than California. There shouldn't be that problem.' [Ed.: He completely made this up.] I spoke with the Governor about it. I'm getting along very well with the governor. But I said, 'At some point you can't every year have hundreds of thousands of acres of land just burned to the ground.'
WALLACE: But sir ...
That's burning down because of a lack of management.
WALLACE: But sir, if you believe in the science of climate change, why have you rolled back the Obama Clean Power Plan which limited carbon emissions and power plants? Why have you relaxed...?
TRUMP: Because it was driving energy prices through the sky.
WALLACE: Why have you relaxed fuel economy standards that are going to create more pollution from cars and trucks?
TRUMP: Well, not really because what's happening is the car is much less expensive and it's a much safer car and you talk it about a tiny difference. And then what would happen because of the cost of the car you would have at least double and triple the number of cars purchased. We have the old slugs out there that are ten, twelve years old. If you did that, the car would be safer. It would be much cheaper by $3,500. [Ed.: Basically everything he said here is false.]
WALLACE: But in the case of California they have simply ignored that.
TRUMP: No, but you would take a lot of cars off the market because people would be able to afford a car. Now, by the way, we're going to see how that turns out. But a lot of people agree with me, many people. The car has gotten so expensive because they have computers all over the place for an extra little [WALLACE: Okay.] bit of gasoline. [BIDEN: That's not...] [Ed.: False.] And I'm okay with electric cars too. I think I'm all for electric cars. I've given big incentives for electric cars. [Ed.: False.] But what they've done in California is just crazy.
WALLACE: All right, Vice President Biden. I'd like you to respond to the president's climate change record but I also want to ask you about a concern. You propose $2 trillion in green jobs. You talk about new limits, not abolishing, but new limits on fracking. Ending the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2035 and zero net emission of greenhouse gases by 2050. The president says a lot of these things would tank the economy and cost millions of jobs.
BIDEN: He's absolutely wrong, number one. Number two, if, in fact, during our administration in the Recovery Act, I was in charge, able to bring down the cost of renewable energy to cheaper than or as cheap as coal and gas and oil. [Ed.: Getting there.] Nobody's going to build another coal-fired plant in America. No one's going to build another oil-fired plant in America. They're going to move to renewable energy.

Number one, number two, we're going to make sure that we are able to take the federal fleet and turn it into a fleet that's run on their electric vehicles. Making sure that we can do that, we're going to put 500,000 charging stations in all of the highways that we're going to be building in the future.

We're going to build a economy that in fact is going to provide for the ability of us to take 4 million buildings and make sure that they in fact are weatherized in a way that in fact will, they'll emit significantly less gas and oil because the heat will not be going out.

There's so many things that we can do now to create thousands and thousands of jobs. We can get to net zero, in terms of energy production [sic], by 2035. Not only not costing people jobs, creating jobs, creating millions of good-paying jobs. Not 15 bucks an hour, but prevailing wage, by having a new infrastructure that in fact, is green.

And the first thing I will do, I will rejoin the Paris accord. I will join the Paris accord because with us out of it, look what's happening. It's all falling apart. And talk about someone who has no, no relationship with foreign policy. Brazil - the rainforests of Brazil are being torn down, are being ripped down. More, more carbon is absorbed in that rainforest than every bit of carbon that's emitted in the United States. Instead of doing something about that, I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion, and say, 'Here's $20 billion. Stop, stop tearing down the forest. And If you don't, then you're going to have significant economic consequences.'
WALLACE: What about the argument that President Trump basically says, that you have to balance environmental interests and economic interests? And he's drawn his line.
BIDEN: Well, he hasn't drawn a line. He still for example, he wants to make sure that methane's not a problem [sic]. You can now emit more methane without it being a problem. Methane. This is a guy who says that you don't have to have mileage standards for automobiles that exist now. This is the guy who says that, the fact that ...
TRUMP: Not true. Not true.
TRUMP: He's talking about the Green New Deal.
BIDEN: It's all true. And here's the deal ...
TRUMP: And it's not 2 billion or 20 billion, as you said. It's 100 trillion dollars.
WALLACE (to TRUMP): Let him go for a minute, and then you can go.
Where they want to rip down buildings and rebuild the building. It's the dumbest, most ridiculous where airplanes are out of business,
where two car systems are out,
where they want to take out the cows too.
BIDEN: I'm talking about the Biden plan. I'm ... I'm ...


No.

That is not...

That is not...
BIDEN: Not true.
TRUMP:That's not true either, right?
BIDEN: Not true.
TRUMP:This is a 100 trillion-
BIDEN: Simply... Look-
TRUMP: That's more money than our country could make in 100 years if we're -
WALLACE: All right. Let me . . . Wait a minute, sir.

That is simply not the case.
WALLACE: I actually have studied your plan, and it includes upgrading 4 million buildings, weatherizing 2 million homes over four years, building one and a half million energy efficient homes. So the question becomes, some, the president is saying, I think some people who support the president would say, that sounds like it's going to cost a lot of money and hurt the economy.
BIDEN: What it's going to do, it's going to create thousands and millions of jobs.
TRUMP: 100 trillion dollars.
Good paying jobs.
WALLACE: Let him finish, sir.
BIDEN: He doesn't know how to do that.
BIDEN: The fact is, it's going to create millions of good paying jobs, and these tax incentives for people to weatherize, which he wants to get rid of. It's going to make the economy much safer. Look how much we're paying now to deal with the hurricanes, deal with... By the way, he has an answer for hurricanes. He said, maybe we should drop a nuclear weapon on them, and they may-
TRUMP: I never said that at all-
BIDEN: Yeah, he did say that.
TRUMP: They made it up.
BIDEN: And here's the deal.
TRUMP: You make up a lot.
We're going to be in a position where we can create hard, hard, good jobs by making sure the environment is clean, and we all are in better shape. We spend billions of dollars now, billions of dollars, on floods, hurricanes, rising seas. We're in real trouble. Look what's happened just in the Midwest with these storms that come through and wipe out entire sections and counties in Iowa. They didn't happen before. They're because of global warming. We make up 15% of the world's problem. We in fact ... But the rest of the world, we've got to get them to come along. That's why we have to get back into, back into the Paris accord.
WALLACE: All right, gentlemen-
TRUMP: Wait a minute, Chris. So why didn't he do it for 47 years?
BIDEN: For 47-
You were vice president, so why didn't you get the world... China sends up real dirt into the air. Russia does. India does. They all do. We're supposed to be good. And by the way, he made a couple of statements.
BIDEN: That is not my plan. The Green New Deal is not my plan. If he knew anything about, if he knew anything about ...
The Green New Deal is a hundred trillion dollars, not 20 billion. You want to rebuild every building, you want to rebuild every building.
WALLACE: Gentlemen. . .
TRUMP: He made a statement about the military. He said I said something about the military. He and his friends made it up, and then they went with it. I never said it.
BIDEN: That is not true.
You're done in this segment.


Mister, please, sir.

Stop.
What he did is he said he called the military stupid bastards.
He said it on tape. He said stupid bastards. He said it.
I would never say that.
You're on tape . . [Snopes: Mostly false.]

I did not say that . . .


Play it. Play it-
WALLACE: Go ahead, Mr. Vice President, answer his final question.
BIDEN: The final question is, I can't remember which of all his rantings he was talking about.
WALLACE (laughing): I'm having a little trouble myself, but...
BIDEN: Yeah.
WALLACE: And about the economy and about this question of what it's going to cost.
BIDEN: The economy-
WALLACE: I mean, the Green New Deal and the idea of what your environmental changes will do.
BIDEN: The Green New Deal will pay for itself as we move forward. We're not going to build plants that, in fact, are great polluting plants-
WALLACE: So, do you support the Green New Deal?
BIDEN: Pardon me?
WALLACE: Do you support the ...
BIDEN: No, I don't support the Green New Deal.
TRUMP: Oh, you don't? Oh, well, that's a big statement.
BIDEN: I support the -
TRUMP: That means you just lost the radical left.
BIDEN: I support the Biden plan that I put forward.
WALLACE: Okay.
BIDEN: The Biden plan, which is different than what he calls the radical Green New Deal.
Transcript from Rev.com with additional edits and formatting by Hill Heat.

Full Transcript: Joe Biden Remarks On Climate Change And Wildfires

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 14 Sep 2020 19:53:00 GMT

This afternoon, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden made an extended speech in Delaware about global warming and climate disasters, outlining his vision for “net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.” This speech was reminiscent of then-candidate Barack Obama’s climate speech of 2007.

Good afternoon.

As a nation, we face one of the most difficult moments in our history. Four historic crises. All at the same time.

The worst pandemic in over 100 years, that’s killed nearly 200,000 Americans and counting.

The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, that’s cost tens of millions of American jobs and counting.

Emboldened white supremacy unseen since the 1960s and a reckoning on race long overdue.

And the undeniable, accelerating, and punishing reality of climate change and its impact on our planet and our people — on lives and livelihoods — which I’d like to talk about today.

Jill and I continue to pray for everyone in California, Oregon, Washington, and across the West as the devastating wildfires rage on — just as we’ve held in our hearts those who’ve faced hurricanes and tropical storms on our coasts, in Florida, in North Carolina, or like in parts of New Orleans where they just issued an emergency evacuation for Hurricane Sally, that’s approaching and intensifying; Floods and droughts across the Midwest, the fury of climate change everywhere — all this year, all right now.

We stand with our families who have lost everything, the firefighters and first responders risking everything to save others, and the millions of Americans caught between relocating during a pandemic or staying put as ash and smoke pollute the air they breathe.

Think about that.

People are not just worried about raging fires. They are worried about breathing air. About damage to their lungs.

Parents, already worried about Covid-19 for their kids when they’re indoors, are now worried about asthma attacks for their kids when they’re outside.

Over the past two years, the total damage from wildfires has reached nearly $50 Billion in California alone.

This year alone, nearly 5 million acres have burned across 10 states — more acres than the entire state of Connecticut.

And it’s only September. California’s wildfire season typically runs through October.

Fires are blazing so bright and smoke reaching so far, NASA satellites can see them a million miles away in space.

The cost of this year’s damage will again be astronomically high.

But think of the view from the ground, in the smoldering ashes.

Loved ones lost, along with the photos and keepsakes of their memory. Spouses and kids praying each night that their firefighting husband, wife, father, and mother will come home. Entire communities destroyed.

We have to act as a nation. It shouldn’t be so bad that millions of Americans live in the shadow of an orange sky and are left asking if doomsday is here.

I know this feeling of dread and anxiety extends beyond just the fires. We’ve seen a record hurricane season costing billions of dollars. Last month, Hurricane Laura intensified at a near-record rate just before its landfall along Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

It’s a troubling marker not just for an increased frequency of hurricanes, but more powerful and destructive storms. They’re causing record damage after record damage to people’s homes and livelihoods.

And before it intensified and hit the Gulf Coast, Laura ravaged Puerto Rico — where, three years after Hurricane Maria — our fellow Americans are still recovering from its damage and devastation.

Think about that reality.

Our fellow Americans are still putting things back together from the last big storm as they face the next one.

We’ve also seen historic flooding in the Midwest — often compounding the damages delivered by last year’s floods that cost billions dollars in damage.

This past spring Midland, Michigan experienced a flood so devastating — with deadly flash flooding, overrunning dams and roadways, and the displacement of 10,000 residents — that it was considered a once-in-500-year weather event.

But those once-in-many-generations events? They happen every year now.

The past ten years were the hottest decade ever recorded. The Arctic is literally melting. Parts are on fire.

What we’re seeing in America — in our communities — is connected to that.

With every bout with nature’s fury, caused by our own inaction on climate change, more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, on coastlines and farmlands.

It is happening everywhere. It is happening now. It affects us all.

Nearly two hundred cities are experiencing the longest stretches of deadly heat waves in fifty years. It requires them to help their poor and elderly residents adapt to extreme heat to simply stay alive, especially in homes without air conditioning.

Our family farmers in the Midwest are facing historic droughts.

These follow record floods and hurricane-speed windstorms all this year.

It’s ravaged millions of acres of corn, soybeans, and other crops. Their very livelihood which sustained their families and our economy for generations is now in jeopardy.

How will they pay their bills this year? What will be left to pass on to their kids?

And none of this happens in a vacuum.

A recent study showed air pollution is linked with an increased risk of death from COVID-19.

Our economy can’t recover if we don’t build back with more resiliency to withstand extreme weather — extreme weather that will only come with more frequency.

The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single one of us. But too often the brunt falls disproportionately on communities of color, exacerbating the need for environmental justice.

These are the interlocking crises of our time.

It requires action, not denial.

It requires leadership, not scapegoating.

It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office — to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack – seen and unseen. Always and without exception. Every time.

Because here’s the deal.

Hurricanes don’t swerve to avoid “blue states.” Wildfires don’t skip towns that voted a certain way.

The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. That’s because it’s not a partisan phenomenon.

It’s science.

And our response should be the same. Grounded in science. Acting together. All of us.

But like with our federal response to COVID-19, the lack of a national strategy on climate change leaves us with patchwork solutions.

I’m speaking from Delaware, the lowest-lying state in the nation, where just last week the state’s Attorney General sued 31 big fossil fuel companies alleging that they knowingly wreaked damage on the climate.

Damage that is plain to everyone but the president.

As he flies to California today, we know he has no interest in meeting this moment.

We know he won’t listen to the experts or treat this disaster with the urgency it demands, as any president should do during a national emergency.

He’s already said he wanted to withhold aid to California — to punish the people of California — because they didn’t vote for him.

This is yet another crisis he won’t take responsibility for.

The West is literally on fire and he blames the people whose homes and communities are burning.

He says, “You gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests.”

This is the same president who threw paper towels to the people of Puerto Rico instead of truly helping them recover and rebuild.

We know his disdain for his own military leaders and our veterans.

Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of our military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.

Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused the record fires, record floods, and record hurricanes.

But if he gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump warns that integration is threatening our suburbs. That’s ridiculous.

But you know what’s actually threatening our suburbs?

Wildfires are burning the suburbs in the West. Floods are wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the Midwest. And hurricanes are imperiling suburban life along our coasts.

If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburbs will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?

If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze?

If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?

We need a president who respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here, and, unless we take urgent action, will soon be more catastrophic.

A president who recognizes, understands, and cares that Americans are dying.

Which makes President Trump’s climate denialism — his disdain of science and facts — all the more unconscionable.

Once again, he fails the most basic duty to this nation.

He fails to protect us.

And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.

What he doesn’t get is that even in crisis, there is nothing beyond our capacity as a country.

And while so many of you are hurting right now, I want you to know that if you give me the honor of serving as your President, we can, and we will, meet this moment with urgency and purpose.

We can and we will solve the climate crisis, and build back better than we were before.

When Donald Trump thinks about climate change he thinks: “hoax.”

I think: “jobs.”

Good-paying, union jobs that put Americans to work building a stronger, more climate resilient nation.

A nation with modernized water, transportation and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather and a changing climate.

When Donald Trump thinks about renewable energy, he sees windmills somehow causing cancer.

I see American manufacturing — and American workers — racing to lead the global market. I also see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and gaining new sources of income in the process.

When Donald Trump thinks about LED bulbs, he says he doesn’t like them because: “the light’s no good. I always look orange.”

I see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing award-winning energy conservation measures.

This will reduce the electricity consumption and save businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.

While he turns us against our allies, I will bring us back into the Paris Agreement. I will put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change. And I will challenge everyone to up the ante on their climate commitments.

Where he reverses the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards, he picks Big Oil companies over the American workers.

I will not only bring the standards back, I will set new, ambitious ones — that our workers are ready to meet.

And I also see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country and American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.

Not only that, the United States owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles — and we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in the United States of America.

All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry.

And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.

Transforming the American electricity sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century. Not to mention the positive benefits to our health and our environment.

We need to get to work right away.

We’ll need scientists at national labs and land-grant universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to improve and innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.

We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them. We’ll need iron workers and welders to install them.

And we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.

We know how to do this.

The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.

We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy, and weatherized more than a million homes.

We will do it again — bigger and faster and better than before.

We’ll also build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three-times over — by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership.

There are thousands of oil and natural gas wells that the oil and gas companies have just abandoned, many of which are leaking toxins.

We can create 250,000 jobs plugging those wells right away — good union jobs for energy workers. This will help sustain communities and protect the environment as well.

We’ll also create new markets for our family farmers and ranchers.

We’ll launch a new, modern day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.

I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. But I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right.

That’s true of the millions of families struggling with the smoke created by these devastating wildfires right now.

But it’s also been true for a generation or more in places — like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware.

Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans — especially Black, Brown, and Native American communities, who too often don’t have clean air and clean water — is not going to be easy.

But it is necessary. And I am committed to doing it.

These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable policies that create jobs, mitigate climate change, and put our nation on the road to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

Some say that we can’t afford to fix this.

But here’s the thing.

Look around at the crushing consequences of the extreme weather events I’ve been describing. We’ve already been paying for it. So we have a choice.

We can invest in our infrastructure to make it stronger and more resilient, while at the same time tackling the root causes of climate change.

Or, we can continue down the path of Donald Trump’s indifference, costing tens of billions of dollars to rebuild, and where the human costs — the lives and livelihoods and homes and communities destroyed — are immeasurable.

We have a choice.

We can commit to doing this together because we know that climate change is the existential challenge that will define our future as a country, for our children, grandchildren, and great-children.

Or, there’s Donald Trump’s way — to ignore the facts, to deny reality that amounts to full surrender and a failure to lead.

It’s backward-looking politics that will harm the environment, make communities less healthy, and hold back economic progress while other countries race ahead.

And it’s a mindset that doesn’t have any faith in the capacity of the American people to compete, to innovate, and to win.

Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership.

It requires a president for all Americans.

So as the fires rage out West on this day, our prayers remain with everyone under the ash.

I know it’s hard to see the sun rise and believe today will be better than yesterday when America faces this historic inflection point.

A time of real peril, but also a time of extraordinary possibilities.

I want you to know that we can do this.

We will do this.

We are America.

We see the light through the dark smoke.

We never give up.

Always.

Without exception.

Every time.

May God bless our firefighters and first responders.

May God protect our troops.

Biden Campaign Forms Climate Advisory Council

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 03 Jul 2020 18:02:00 GMT

The Biden campaign has formed a new advisory council for engaging climate voters. The members of Biden for President’s Climate Council include:
  • Billionaire Tom Steyer, former presidential candidate
  • Dr. Cecilia Martinez, co-founder and executive director, Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy
  • Lonnie R. Stephenson, International President, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
  • Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.)
  • Carol M. Browner, chair, League of Conservation Voters
  • Harold Mitchell, Jr., former South Carolina state representative and founder, ReGenesis Community Development Corporation

None are allies of or endorsers of Bernie Sanders, Biden’s closest rival, or of Gov. Jay Inslee, who ran as a climate candidate.

Martinez is a long-time environmental justice policy leader. She was also a research professor at the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Delaware, Biden’s home state, and a senior research fellow at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a progressive think tank. Martinez worked with John Podesta and the Center for American Progress to organize a multi-organization national environmental and climate justice platform in 2019.

Stephenson’s union, IBEW, opposes the elimination of the fossil fuel industry, a prerequisite for ending climate pollution. He opposes the Green New Deal.

Haaland, who is also on the Democratic National Convention platform drafting committee, endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president. She has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge.

Mitchell was the Steyer campaign’s Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice.

Browner was one of Hillary Clinton’s representatives on the 2016 platform drafting committee. She worked to kill several key environmental priorities of the Sanders campaign, including planks that would have opposed fracking and fossil-fuel extraction projects and supported a carbon tax. Her organization endorsed Biden on April 20, 2020.

Sunrise's Democratic Presidential Scorecard: Sanders A-, Warren B-, Biden F

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 10 Dec 2019 00:28:00 GMT

The youth climate activist group Sunrise Movement has published a 200-point climate leadership scorecard on the top three Democratic presidential candidates, with Bernie Sanders leading Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden far behind.

Sanders earned 91.5% of the possible points; Warren 82.5%; and Biden a strikingly low 37.5%.

The careful scoring process is broken into four sections: “How they talk about it,” “How much they talk about it,” “Plan to win,” and “Green New Deal vision.”

Sanders and Warren earned identical scores for “How they talk about it” and “Plan to win”- reflecting their similarity in rhetoric about the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for comprehensive action that directly confronts the fossil-fuel industry. Both campaigns have laid out comprehensive plans for action that are built around principles of climate justice.

However, Sanders has talked about climate change significantly more than Warren on the campaign trail and in the presidential debates—a difference reflected in the metric used by the Sunrise Movement, which is the frequency with which climate change is discussed on the campaign Twitter feeds.

The Green New Deal section was a 100-point analysis of the candidate’s climate plans, representing half of the full score. Sanders received an A (95 points) compared to Warren’s B (85 points) for his clear plan for a phase-out of fossil-fuel extraction and for more detailed and ambitious plans for sustainable agriculture, forestry, climate refugees, energy democracy, public infrastructure, renewable energy investment, and public transportation.

In all categories Biden lagged significantly.

Perhaps relatedly, the Biden campaign’s top climate staffer, Heather Zichal, is a former John Kerry and Barack Obama staffer who parlayed her years of service into highly lucrative positions in the natural gas industry.

When Biden has been confronted by climate activists at campaign stops, he has responded dismissively that he was involved in one of the first climate bills passed by Congress and if they’re still not happy, they should vote for someone else.

As DNC Votes to Kill Climate Debate, Biden Campaign Rescinds Support

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:38:00 GMT

On Thursday, the Democratic National Committee’s resolutions committee voted down a resolution that would have established a climate debate for the presidential candidates, reflecting the wishes of frontrunner Joe Biden. However, the committee did open the door to candidates participating in a non-DNC-sanctioned climate debate, a significant victory for the youth activists leading the call. On Saturday, the full DNC voted that plan down 222 to 137, closing the door to any presidential climate debate.

DNC chair Tom Perez’s resolution to block a DNC climate debate passed the committee in an 17 to 8 vote.

At the DNC meeting in California, Biden spokesperson and DNC member Symone Sanders said it would be “dangerous” to hold a climate debate.

Mercury News’s Casey Tolan reported that Symone Sanders said a climate debate “would fundamentally change the game” of the established debate rules and would be “dangerous territory in the middle of a Democratic primary process.”

In June, Biden had expressed unequivocal support for a debate exclusively on climate.

DNC members opposed to holding a climate debate include corporate lobbyist and CNN commentator Maria Cardona of the Dewey Square Group, who said “It will take away time from their knocking on doors, going to all of your states to be able to campaign.”

Following the Lead of Other Candidates, Biden Becomes 15th to Call for Climate Debate

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 11 Jun 2019 21:50:00 GMT

Today, Joe Biden became the 15th Democratic candidate for president to call for a climate debate, making a mockery of Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez’s claim such a debate would be “at the request of one candidate.”

Perez was evidently singling out Jay Inslee, who has made climate action a centerpiece of his campaign.

In fact, the demand for a presidential debate focused on climate began with the youth climate activist groups U.S. Youth Climate Strike and Sunrise Movement. Inslee was the first candidate to support their campaign, though over a dozen fellow candidates soon followed suit.

Biden joined the calls for a climate debate in a conversation with a climate activist following a rally today in Ottumwa, Iowa, Greenpeace reports.

Biden is the ninth of the 13 candidates who have fully qualified for the DNC debates to endorse a climate debate.

In a Medium post, Perez—handpicked as chair by Barack Obama to thwart the candidacy of Keith Ellison—pushed back on the growing calls for a climate debate.

“If we change our guidelines at the request of one candidate who has made climate change their campaign’s signature issue, how do we say no to the numerous other requests we’ve had?”

Perez has not indicated specifically what other existential issue a majority of the Democratic candidates for president, spurred by activists, have requested to debate.

Transcript of Biden exchange:

Q: “Should we have a climate change debate?”

BIDEN: “Yeah we should have a climate change debate. We should. That’s what we should be doing.”

Q: “One debate?”

BIDEN: “Yeah.”

Q: “Dedicated to climate change?”

BIDEN: “Yeah, I’m all in. I’m all in, man. Take a look at what I’m talking about. By the way, first climate change plan ever introduced in the United States Congress: Biden.”

Q: “You’re the man. All right.”

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