Sunday, September 25th, 2016
Clinton supporters: We really need you to ramp up the pressure on your candidate regarding climate change.
I did some research tonight (using the Wayback Machine) on how her climate change position page on her website has changed over time. The results are alarming.
Let me preface this by saying that the *only* climate commitment that matters is a clear commitment to cut overall greenhouse gas emissions by sufficient enough amounts, quickly enough, to get keep us from suffering temperature increases too high for our societies and ecosystems to manage.
On January 23rd, Clinton’s page said the following:
“…we will… put our country on a path to achieve deep emission reductions by 2050.”
On February 4, however, she updated her page to say:
“Lead the world in the fight against climate change by bringing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below what they were in 2005 within the next decade—and keep going.”
Now, there are some problems with this, namely that she picked a base year, 2005, with a very high emissions level, much higher than the 1990’s base year used in all the analyses used by her allies over at NextGen Climate, who are using climate change as an issue to turn out voters for her. However, this is a clear, unequivocal emissions commitment.
…and then she won the Democratic nomination.
On Jul. 18, just a few days after Sanders endorsed her, Clinton’s team updated her climate page to say the following, emphasis mine:
“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.”
See what just happened? “[B]ringing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below…” just turned into “reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent.” By adding just two little words, Clinton turns a firm commitment into useless sloganeering. If we don’t do *anything* to get emissions under control, you could still say we were on track to reduce emissions by up to 30 percent.
Heck, why stop there? Why not just say up to 95 percent?
This isn’t happening in a vacuum. In the weeks since winning the primary, Clinton’s mentions of climate change have dropped from once every two speeches to once every five speeches.
Sure, there’s been a pivot to the general election. But Clinton’s presidency *must* be defined by incredibly urgent, far-reaching climate-change-mitigation measures, or peace and prosperity as we know them are going away in our lifetimes. If she ain’t talking about it, and if she’s walking back strong commitments now, she’s not going to throw all her political capital behind it later. She needs to not only be capitalizing on whatever support exists for strong measures, but also building strong new support for those measures as the campaign progresses.
Push her. Hard. Now. We don’t have time for this.