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The Candidates on Climate: High Stakes – Clear Choice

paris-1-5-degreesAs Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump prepare to face off Monday night in the first of three scheduled presidential debates, there may be no core issue over which the candidates differ more completely – or more consequentially – than climate change.

It’s hard, in fact, to point to two candidates in living memory with sharper differences on a matter that touches, or will touch, every facet of our lives, from where we live and what we eat to how we earn and spend our money.

If you think climate change is a hoax hatched in China, then, boy oh boy, has Trump got a deal for you. If you’re concerned about rising seas, widening deserts, withering heat, raging storms and other hallmarks of climate chaos, you’re going to want to give Clinton a listen.

Clinton understands that we have an obligation to protect future generations from these growing dangers by acting now to avert the worst impacts of climate catastrophe.

She’s set out a comprehensive portfolio of responsible policy proposals to build on the progress of the past eight years to ensure further gains going forward. She wants to end fossil fuel subsidies that cost taxpayers an unconscionable $4.7 billion a year. And she’s articulated a powerful vision of job growth, efficiency and prosperity from making our country the clean energy superpower of the 21st Century.

Trump said in 2012 that climate change is a hoax invented, he asserted, by the Chinese – like firecrackers, perhaps, or moveable type. He later said he was joking. Four years later.

Not only does Trump have no plan of his own for fighting the central environmental challenge of our time, he’s promised to scrap what’s already working, like President Obama’s historic plan to clean up the dirty power plants that account for 40 percent of our carbon footprint; or the global climate accord inked last December in Paris, which Trump has vowed to “cancel.”

Trump wants to anchor our future to the fuels of the past by digging up more coal, oil and gas than we can possibly burn without causing climate catastrophe.

Trump’s policies would set us back a generation in a fight for our future we can’t afford to lose. And, rather than looking to American innovation and enterprise for the clean energy solutions that already employ 2.5 million Americans across the country, he wants to lock us into more and more of the very fuels that got us into this mess in the first place.

These aren’t mere policy shadings. This is a tale of two wildly differing understandings of the world, two distinctly divergent paths for the country and two starkly different outcomes for our children.

It’s also a high contrast in values. Americans don’t walk away from challenge; we stand up to it and fight. We don’t turn our back on gathering threats; we roll up our sleeves and get to work. And we don’t kick problems down the road to our children; we take action today to leave them a more hopeful tomorrow. Little wonder that seven in ten Americans want real action to fight climate change.

In this election, the choice before us couldn’t be clearer and the stakes for the country could hardly be higher.

A Threat to the Natural Systems That Support All Life

We just wrapped up the hottest summer since global record keeping began 137 years ago. Between June and August, land and sea temperatures worldwide averaged 1.82 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-Century average.

Last year was the hottest on record, and the first eight months of this year have been even hotter, setting us on pace for 2016 to be the hottest year yet. And 19 of the hottest years ever recorded have all occurred in the past 20 years.

Who says that’s a problem? Well, for starters, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the gold standard for climate data worldwide; the National Academy of Sciences, established by Congress during the Civil War to tell us the bedrock truth about what’s happening in our physical world;Pope Francis, who calls on people of all faiths to live out our spiritual duty to leave our children a livable world; leaders from the United States, China, Indian and more than 180 other countries that put plans on the table last December in Paris to fight climate change; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – the guys who put a man on the moon.

Here’s who wants us to shrug it all off: a coal, oil and gas industry whose business model depends on steady increases in the carbon pollution that’s driving climate chaos, and that industry’s political handmaidens, with Trump leading the big polluter parade. He’s taken on the role with such fervor he hasn’t noticed the grim summer harvest of climate disruption sweeping the country.

Floods we expect every thousand years are happening every couple of months, from South Carolina and Louisiana to Maryland and elsewhere.Mosquitos are thriving, along with the disease they can spread, as periods of warm, moist weather lengthen across the country. Marine life is threatened in waters worldwide, as our oceans become warmer and more acidic from the carbon piling up in our atmosphere.

Tens of thousands of Rocky Mountain Whitefish floated belly up in the warmer-than-normal waters of the Yellowstone River last month, while California choked in the smoke of epic wildfires.

And, with scientists saying oceans could rise by as much as six feet before this century is out, the online real estate company Zillow estimated that a six-foot rise in sea level would flood nearly 1.9 million American homes valued at $882 billion.

Where once we looked to scientists to explain the dangers of climate change, now we need only look out the window to see signs of its growing costs and risks. What we see is a potent rebuke to those who pretend we might wish it away and a call to action to protect our children from this widening and perilous scourge.

That means cutting the dangerous carbon pollution that’s driving the disruption of our natural systems and all they support. It means reducing our reliance on coal, gas and oil by investing in efficiency, so we do more with less waste. It means creating more sustainable transportation options and getting more clean power from the wind and sun.

For nearly eight years, we’ve had a president working to put us on that track. Under President Obama’s leadership, we’re cutting the carbon footprint of our cars, trucks and power plants. He’s helped automakers build more all-electric and hybrid cars. He’s helped us get more clean power from the wind and sun and invest in efficiency so we do more with less waste.

We’re making important progress.

In the decade between 2005 and 2014, our emissions of carbon pollution,methane, hydrofluorocarbons and other greenhouse gases fell 8.6 percent, while our economy grew an inflation-adjusted 12.6 percent over that same period. We’re on track to reduce greenhouse gases 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. And Obama has pledged to deepen those cuts – to between 26 and 28 percent below the 2005 levels?—?by 2025.

We’re doing what’s best for our people at home. Our friends around the world are watching, though. That’s why Obama was able to help broker a historic climate agreement last December in Paris, where countries that account for 97 percent of global greenhouse emissions put plans on the table to shift away from the fossil fuels that are driving climate change and move toward cleaner, smarter ways to power our future.

We need a president who will build on these achievements, not tear them down and turn back the clock on the progress we need.

Clinton would lead us forward. She has a plan to create millions of good-paying middle class jobs by advancing clean energy technologies and making our homes, cars and workplaces more efficient, so we do more with less waste. She wants to do away with fossil fuel subsidies that cost taxpayers $4.7 billion a year. And she’ll work with our friends around the world to make sure we all do our part.

Hillary Clinton understands that climate change threatens the natural systems that support all life. She’s taken a serious look at the rising costs and risks of climate disruption. She’s assessed the stakes for our country, made the decision to act and embraced the opportunity for needed change.

Donald Trump is living in denial – if not fantasy – and asking the rest of us to do the same. His views are at odds with the vast and growing body of climate change science. They’re at odds with what we’re seeing in our own backyards. And they’re at odds with the rest of the world.

In this election, on this central issue, the differences are stark, the stakes are high and the choice could not be more clear.

Bob Deans is the director of strategic engagement for the NRDC Action Fund.

NRDC Action Fund President: Trump’s Dirty Energy Plan a Nightmare for our Communities and Climate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NRDC Action Fund, Denis Dison, (202) 717-8293, ddison@nrdc.org

WASHINGTON (September 22, 2016) – In Pittsburgh today Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is scheduled to highlight his energy agenda, which would rely on dramatic expansion of fossil fuel development at the expense of clean energy.

The following is a statement from Rhea Suh, president of the NRDC Action Fund:

“Donald Trump’s dirty energy agenda will surprise no one. It’s a wish list for big polluters, and he’s their dream candidate. He would ignore climate change, and allow damage to our air, land and water. That would take us back a generation. And it would be a nightmare for our communities and climate.”

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The NRDC Action Fund is an affiliated but separate organization from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, the NRDC Action Fund engages in various advocacy and political activities for which the Natural Resources Defense Council, a 501(c)(3) organization, faces certain legal limitations or restrictions. News and information released by the NRDC Action Fund therefore needs to be identified as from the NRDC Action Fund.

A vote for Gary Johnson is a vote against the environment

gary-johnsonAmericans under 30 are far more concerned about climate change and limiting carbon emissions than the general population, so it doesn’t make sense that recent polls show close to 20 percent of millennials say they’re planning to vote for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. A vote for Johnson will benefit Donald Trump in some key swing states, making it more likely that he’ll be able to implement his absurd anti-environmental agenda. And when it comes to practical consequences for climate change, there’s simply not a huge difference between Trump and Johnson: Johnson’s utter weakness on the issue is not much better than Trump’s outright denialism.

The Libertarian platform calls for eliminating environmental laws and regulations altogether. No EPA. Nobody to prevent pollution before it happens. Under the Libertarian plan, individuals and communities would seek relief from filthy air or spoiled waterways only through the courts. As Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times about the idea, “Ordinary citizens against teams of high-priced corporate lawyers – what could go wrong?”

The truth is, we’ve already tried this. Before the EPA was established in 1970, America’s failed patchwork of weak state environmental protections led to horrific industrial pollution. In the decades since we first set national standards for clean air, smog-choked cities have seen dramatic improvements in air quality and far fewer Americans are experiencing sickness or premature death caused by dirty air.

The nation’s waters were in terrible shape before the EPA and the Clean Water Act, with many rivers, lakes and streams off-limits to swimming or fishing. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland actually caught fire, its oily mix of pollutants set ablaze by sparks from a passing train. Today the fish have returned and the river has come back to life thanks to common sense limits on pollution.

Trump and the Libertarians claim the U.S. economy needs to be rid of certain environmental regulations in order to grow, but gross domestic product has expanded by 238 percent since 1970, and few companies outside the coal industry would claim that a dirtier, more polluted America will be good for business.

Younger Americans have grown up in a country with cleaner air and safer water than their parents and grandparents enjoyed. They take for granted that big polluters will be kept in check so we can all enjoy our lakes and rivers, let our kids play outside and drink safe water from the tap. That doesn’t happen, though, by itself. It takes leadership. If millennial voters don’t want a future that looks like America’s devastated environmental past, a vote for Johnson or Trump would be a huge mistake.

Only one candidate has pledged to build on our environmental progress, protect our health, expand America’s leading role in fighting climate change and usher in a vibrant clean energy economy, and that’s why the NRDC Action Fund endorsed Hillary Clinton.

Rhea Suh is president of the NRDC Action Fund.

NRDC Action Fund’s Weekly News Summary

Here’s what the NRDC Action Fund has been reading this week:

Donald Trump taking questions at a town hall meeting in Roanoke, Va., in July. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Donald Trump taking questions at a town hall meeting in Roanoke, Va., in July. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

When a crackpot runs for president (The New York Times) — “There are crackpots who believe that the earth is flat, and they don’t deserve to be quoted without explaining that this is an, er, outlying view, and the same goes for a crackpot who has argued that climate change is a Chinese-made hoax.”

Brazil just ratified the Paris climate agreement. Here’s why that’s a really big deal (The Washington Post) —  Brazil is the world’s 7th highest carbon emitter, so its formal ratification will likely spur other nations to follow suit.

GM pledges 100% renewable energy power by 2050 (The Detroit News) — And it’s no small feat: General Motors aims to power its 350 facilities in 59 countries with 100% renewable energy, up from 3.8% this year.

Obama to create first marine national monument in the Atlantic (NBC News) — The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is a special home to rare deep sea corals, endangered whales, and species found nowhere else on Earth.

Climate change “significant and direct” threat to U.S. military: reports (Reuters) — Former top national security officials and U.S. military officials are calling for the next president to create a cabinet-level position to fight climate change.

Think wind power is cheap now? Wait until 2030 (Greentech Media) — In just over a decade, the cost of wind power could come down 25% or more.

Trump campaign taps GOP energy lobbyist as adviser (Politico) — Trump adds yet another fossil fuel lobbyist to his presidential campaign, signaling the disastrous climate policies a Trump administration would bring.

 

 

Voting will help fight climate change

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Election Day is just around the corner, and this year, your vote will help fight climate change and keep American families healthy and safe. If we don’t vote, we could have a president who rips up the historic Paris Agreement, our only chance at avoiding catastrophic sea level rise, extreme storms, and devastating drought caused by climate change. We can’t let that happen.

We need a president who will make sure all Americans, especially our kids and grandkids, have access to clean air and safe water. We need a president who will put America on a path to clean, renewable electricity, rebuild our water infrastructure, and create good-paying clean-energy jobs. This year, your vote is a vote for a clean energy future.

Voter registration deadlines are fast approaching. Most registration deadlines are several weeks or a month before November 8th. In Pennsylvania and Ohio for instance, you need to register by October 11th. If you want to cast your vote in North Carolina in November, make sure you’re registered by October 14th.

Click here to register to vote for healthy families and a safe climate.