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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Adam Siegel: Democratic Party Platform Engages Climate Change

Democratic Party Platform Engages Climate Change

by Adam Siegel, Get Energy Smart NOW!, September 3, 2012
In contrast to its total absence from the Republican Party platform (as a sign of the GOP’s anti-science global warming denial), the Democratic Party platform directly engages on climate change issues — with the term appearing 18 times in the platform.
Note: the photo to the right comes from the Democratic Party’s platform page.
Not surprisingly, the environment section has direct discussion of climate change issues.
We know that global climate change is one of the biggest threats of this generation – an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making. We affirm the science of climate change, commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes climate change, and know we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits.
This is a straightforward and accurate paragraph that highlights the seriousness of the issue while outlining that tackling climate change with “smart policies” will create many benefits for society.
The next paragraph begins:
President Obama has been a leader on this issue.
Sadly, that first sentence stretches the reality. President Obama entered office speaking seriously about climate change and the need for fidelity to science. Sadly, in the past few years, “climate change has been the Voldemort of the Obama Administration: ”The Threat-That-Must-Not-Be-Named.”” The silence from the Administration and the Obama-Biden election team on climate issues has been deafening … at least until the past few days.
The paragraph continues
We have developed historic fuel efficiency standards that will limit greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles for the first time in history, made unprecedented investments in clean energy, and proposed the first-ever carbon pollution limits for new fossil-fuel-fired power plants. As we move towards lower carbon emissions, we will continue to support smart, energy efficient manufacturing. Democrats pledge to continue showing international leadership on climate change, working toward an agreement to set emission limits in unison with other emerging powers. Democrats will continue pursuing efforts to combat climate change at home as well, because reducing our emissions domestically – through regulation and market solutions – is necessary to continue being an international leader on this issue. We understand that global climate change may disproportionately affect the poor, and we are committed to environmental justice.
Much of this is truthful and powerful. Truly, the fuel efficiency standards could merit credit as one of the greatest achievements to date by the Administration and will have serious positive impacts.
The environment section ends with a direct statement about GOP anti-science attitudes:
Our opponents have moved so far to the right as to doubt the science of climate change, advocate the selling of our federal lands, and threaten to roll back environmental protections that safeguard public health. Their leaders deny the benefits of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts – benefits like job creation, health, and the prevention of tens of thousands of premature deaths each year. They ignore the jobs that are created by promoting outdoor recreation, cleaning up our air, and promoting a healthy environment.
“Doubt the science of climate change” … why such a wishy-washy statement about the Republican Party’s embrace of conspiracy-theory global warming denialism and the GOP’s rejection of the scientific communities understanding of humanity’s impact on the climate?
Climate Change has prominence in the national security section, as an emerging threat:
Climate Change. The national security threat from climate change is real, urgent, and severe. The change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources; new suffering from drought and famine; catastrophic natural disasters; and the degradation of vital ecosystems across the globe. That is why, in addition to undertaking measures to enhance energy independence and promote efficiency, clean energy, and renewable sources of power here at home, the President and the Democratic Party have steadily worked to build an international framework to combat climate change. We will seek to implement agreements and build on the progress made during climate talks in Copenhagen, Cancun, and Durban, working to ensure a response to climate change policy that draws upon decisive action by all nations. Our goal is an effective, international effort in which all major economies commit to reduce their emissions, nations meet their commitments in a transparent manner, and the necessary financing is mobilized so that developing countries can mitigate the effects of climate change and invest in clean energy technologies. That is why the Obama administration has taken a leadership role in ongoing climate negotiations, working to ensure that other major economies like China and India commit to taking meaningful action. It is also why we have worked regionally to build clean energy partnerships in Asia, the Americas, and Africa.
Simply put: a tip of the hat for a forceful statement with valid and valuable aspirations.
Energy dominates the Economy portion of the Platform which begins:
All-of-the-Above Energy Policy. In the last four years, President Obama and the Democratic Party have taken concrete steps to make us more energy independent. We’ve supported nearly 225,000 clean energy jobs and Americans are importing less oil, breathing cleaner air, and saving money on energy costs. Historic investments in clean energy technologies have helped double the electricity we get from wind and solar. New emissions and fuel efficiency standards for American cars are reducing our oil use, saving consumers at the pump, and putting Americans back to work. Our dependence on foreign oil is now at a 16-year low, and a new era of cheap, abundant natural gas is helping to bring jobs and industry back to the United States.
Cheers for the emphasis on clean energy jobs and energy efficiency, jeers for “All-of-the-Above” and the mistaken emphasis on moving to greater emphasis on a fossil fuel into the indefinite future in contrast to the need to confront climate change. The energy section, I haven’t fully read.

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