Australian news, and some related international items

The importance of USA’s election for climate and energy

USA election 2016What the election outcome will really mean for climate and climate-changeenergy, WP,  November 3 You haven’t heard it much in the media, but this election is likely to have large consequences for how the United States, and perhaps the world, addresses climate change. And that is simply because the candidates’ positions contrast sharply on the matter, and because the world has begun an ambitious emissions reduction regime under the Paris climate accord that only one of the candidates wants to continue.

Donald Trump, in an interview with the Washington Post’s editorial board in March, said he is “not a big believer in man-made climate change.” And Trump has said that if elected he would “cancel” the Paris climate agreement – which enters into force on Friday, Nov 4. He has also stood up strongly for the U.S. fossil fuel industries, and especially the struggling coal sector.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, wants to continue and extend Obama’s climate policies, including striving to reach the U.S.’s Paris agreement target of cutting our greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent or more below 2005 levels by 2025. She also wants to, as she has put it many times, make the U.S. a “clean energy superpower” by stoking growth of the solar and wind industries.

That’s quite a contrast. But at the same time, and as many have noted, the mainstream presidential election discussion of the past two months, and especially the presidential debates, has tended to ignore all of this. (I was fortunate enough to participate in an exception to this trend Wednesdayon the “Diane Rehm Show.”)

So let’s look more closely at how it is that Earth’s most momentous and depressing environmental problem has somehow stayed mostly out of what some would say is Earth’s most momentous and depressing election – and what the implications for climate and energy would be, depending on who wins on November 8.

Climate silence?……..

The truth is that in this race, Hillary Clinton has made much of the climate issue, brought it up repeatedly, campaigned with Al Gore in Florida and linked a changing climate to ferocity of Hurricane Matthew, and much more. That’s far more than President Obama did in 2012. Unlike Obama, apparently, Clinton saw it as a political winner for her, particularly with millennials and Bernie Sanders followers.

All in all, you could argue it’s a very substantial change for the issue of the climate in recent U.S. elections. It’s an elevation and a prioritization. It’s just that it has happened during a race that has been extremely scandal-focused, extremely negative, and obsessed in all ways with Donald Trump – and that has been a unique aspect of this election………

Under Clinton, we can assume that the Paris process goes full speed ahead, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan advances (assuming it survives its current legal challenges), and much more. Clinton has also made extremely bold clean energy pledges, such as her promise (as her campaign website explains) to, within 10 years, “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.”…….

under Clinton, we should expect the U.S. executive branch to take every step that it can to try to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and advance the global climate process — but we should also expect a series of hard questions to arise when it comes to the precise nature of the transition to less carbon-intensive energy in the U.S., and what that means for natural gas, nuclear energy, and just maybe, a cleaner way of burning coal…….

we should expect climate change to be a far more salient political issue under a Trump presidency — a major source of sharp conflict — simply because of the obvious high-profile political and international conflagrations that would ensue if he keeps his campaign pledges.

Oh, and one more thing: We’ve had a run of very hot years lately, but we can also expect that the years of the next presidency will likely keep pace with the warmth of the 2010s so far — if not bringing still more records.

In that case, maybe by 2020, a debate moderator would indeed ask about climate change.


November 5, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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