Bernie Sanders noted recently at the Democratic National Convention: This election is about climate change, the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet. Here we take a look at the climate & environmental programs of the candidates for the November 2016 U.S. presidential elections (access date 27th July 2016).
Rating is based on comparison of the different party platform statements, plans, details, and feasibility. However, all these plans need to be revised and tweaked when it comes to successful planetary boundaries and their upkeep.
- Presidential Nominee: Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (New York)
- Vice Presidential Nominee: US Senator Tim Kaine (Virginia)
The website for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign offers extensive information, including a 10 year goal plan. In the following excerpts per their website.
I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.
Hillary, November 29, 2015
Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time. It threatens our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures. We can tackle it by making America the world’s clean energy superpower and creating millions of good-paying jobs, taking bold steps to slash carbon pollution at home and around the world, and ensuring no Americans are left out or left behind as we rapidly build a clean energy economy.
On day one, Hillary Clinton will set bold, national goals that will be achieved within 10 years of taking office:
- Generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of Hillary’s first term.
- Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices by a third and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.
- Reduce American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels and more efficient cars, boilers, ships, and trucks.
Hillary’s plan will deliver on the pledge President Obama made at the Paris climate conference—without relying on climate deniers in Congress to pass new legislation. She will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent in 2025 relative to 2005 levels and put the country on a path to cut emissions more than 80 percent by 2050.
As president, Hillary will:
- Defend, implement, and extend smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan and standards for cars, trucks, and appliances that are already helping clean our air, save families money, and fight climate change.
- Launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities to cut carbon pollution and expand clean energy, including for low-income families. Read the fact sheet here.
- Invest in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development to make the U.S. economy more competitive and create good-paying jobs and careers. Read the fact sheet here.
- Ensure safe and responsible energy production. As we transition to a clean energy economy, we must ensure that the fossil fuel production taking place today is safe and responsible and that areas too sensitive for energy production are taken off the table. Read the fact sheet here.
- Reform leasing and expand clean energy production on public lands and waters tenfold within a decade.
- Cut the billions of wasteful tax subsidies oil and gas companies have enjoyed for too long and invest in clean energy.
- Cut methane emissions across the economy and put in place strong standards for reducing leaks from both new and existing sources.
- Revitalize coal communities by supporting locally driven priorities and make them an engine of U.S. economic growth in the 21st century, as they have been for generations. Read the fact sheet here.
- Make environmental justice and climate justice central priorities by setting bold national goals to eliminate lead poisoning within five years, clean up the more than 450,000 toxic brownfield sites across the country, expand solar and energy efficiency solutions in low-income communities, and create an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force. Read the fact sheet here.
- Promote conservation and collaborative stewardship. Hillary will keep public lands public, strengthen protections for our natural and cultural resources, increase access to parks and public lands for all Americans, as well as harness the immense economic potential they offer through expanded renewable energy production, a high quality of life, and a thriving outdoor economy. Read the fact sheet here.
Hillary’s climate action campaign announcements also include natural gas, and do not mention a carbon tax or electric cars. This leaves room for interpretation on the effectiveness on combating climate change most efficiently. However, the program offers a broad range of climate actions. Hillary would very likely continue the groundwork of the current administration.
Climate State score of the Clinton campaign: 4/5
Presidential Nominee: Dr. Jill Stein (Massachusetts)
The campaign website of Stein offers a brief overview with bold climate action announcements, but with view details.
Climate Action: Protecting Mother Earth and Humanity
- Enact an emergency Green New Deal to turn the tide on climate change, revive the economy and make wars for oil obsolete. Initiate a WWII-scale national mobilization to halt climate change, the greatest threat to humanity in our history. Create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, conservation and restoration of critical infrastructure, including ecosystems.
- Implement a Just Transition that empowers those communities and workers most impacted by climate change and the transition to a green economy. Ensure that any worker displaced by the shift away from fossil fuels will receive full income and benefits as they transition to alternative work.
- Enact energy democracy based on public, community and worker ownership of our energy system. Treat energy as a human right.
- Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation. Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled, energy.
- End destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines. Halt any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas, and phase out all fossil fuel power plants. Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies. End all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a greenhouse gas fee / tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created.
- Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Ban neonicotinoids and other pesticides that threaten the survival of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
- Support a strong enforceable global climate treaty that limits global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and provides just financial compensation to developing countries.
- Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.
- Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.
- Protect the rights of future generations. Adopt the Precautionary Principle. When an activity poses threats of harm to human health or the environment, in the absence of objective scientific consensus that it is safe, precautionary measures should be taken. The proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.
- Invest in clean air, water, food and soil for everyone. Clean up America.
- Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted by harmful pollution and other negative environmental and health effects.
- Support conversion to sustainable, nontoxic materials and the use of closed-loop, zero waste processes.
While Stein’s climate and environmental announcements concern almost every climate action topic, it leaves out details how to exactly accomplish goals (studies, links, action plans etc). For instance there is reasonable doubt about the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and no mention of carbon negative emissions technologies, see for instance BECCS.
Climate State score of the Stein campaign: 3.7/5
- Presidential Nominee: Former Governor Gary Johnson (New Mexico)
- Vice Presidential Nominee: Former Governor Bill Weld (Massachusetts)
The campaign website for Gary Johnson, offers a brief perspective about climate and the environment, in context of free market values and the economy.
The environment is a precious gift and needs to be protected.
Gov. Johnson believes strongly that the first responsibility of government is to protect citizens from those who would do them harm, whether it be a foreign aggressor, a criminal — or a bad actor who harms the environment upon which we all depend.
Consistent with that responsibility, Gary Johnson believes it is the proper role of government to enforce reasonable environmental protections. He did so as Governor, and would do so as President.
However, Gov. Johnson also believes that it is NOT the proper role of government to engage in social and economic engineering for the purpose of manipulating the energy marketplace or creating winners and losers in what should be a robust free market. Such efforts have failed in the past, and are doomed to continue to fail. Preventing a polluter from harming our water or air is one thing. Deciding in Washington, DC, that one source of energy should be subsidized and others penalized is a different matter.
In a healthy economy that allows the market to function unimpeded, consumers, innovators and personal choices will ultimately bring about the environmental restoration and protection society desires. Conversely, destroying prosperity and innovation through government intervention will only harm the environment.
When it comes to global climate change, Gov. Johnson believes too many politicians are having the wrong debate. Is the climate changing? Probably so. Is man contributing to that change? Probably so. The important question, however, is whether the government’s efforts to regulate, tax and manipulate the marketplace in order to impact that change are cost-effective — or effective at all. Given the realities of global energy and resource use, there is little evidence that the burden being placed on Americans is making a difference that justifies the cost.
The Libertarian announcement makes clear that regulations and required actions to prevent dangerous climate interference are not a priority, rather they leave it up for the markets to decide.
Climate State score of the Johnson campaign: 0.5/5
- Presidential Nominee: Businessman Donald J. Trump (New York)
- Vice Presidential Nominee: Governor Mike Pence (Indiana)
The campaign website for Donald Trump does not offer any positions about climate or environmental programs. Thus, one must conclude that these issues have a very low priority, if at all.
And indeed, Donald Trump even calls global warming a hoax
On Dec. 30, 2015, Trump told the crowd at a rally in Hilton Head, S.C., “Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, okay? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”
In a blog post from 26th May, 2016 however, Trump made clear that he is
- Pro coal, oil and natural gas
- Pro Keystone XL Pipeline
- Against EPA regulations
In the same blog Trump announced a 100-day action plan:
- We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.
- We’re going to save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda.
- I’m going to ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.
- We’re going to lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas
- We’re going to revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies. These technologies create millions of jobs with a smaller footprint than ever before.
- We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.
- Any regulation that is outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped. We will also eliminate duplication, provide regulatory certainty, and trust local officials and local residents.
- Any future regulation will go through a simple test: is this regulation good for the American worker? If it doesn’t pass this test, the rule will not be approved.
Trump has promised more fossil energy/fuel combustion – thus more global warming, less environmental protection / regulation, and retreat from global climate agreements. All very bad for the climate, the economy, and health of the people.
Climate State score of the Trump campaign: 0/5
Trump vs Clinton: worlds apart on science
What are Democrats and Republicans saying about climate and energy?