Climate change is beginning to make dents into the US political scene, with Joe Biden last week taking a wishy washy approach to climate change, and hopeful Beto O’Rourke betting the farm on it. In prior weeks we have seen a sincere and intelligent approach from one of the best known candidate, Bernie Sanders.
Rethink Energy has said before that Climate change would be one of the key issues of the American 2020 presidential election. One of the reasons for this is because cloud funding is now established for funding candidates since the mid-terms, and they can stand on a ticket which does not include any allegiance to clear business interests. In the past, if a strong climate change candidate wanted endorsements they would not come from the oil and fossil fuel companies. Now funding can come in tiny $50 samples from a cloud website, with a plethora of promises from anything to anything else.
What we had perhaps not realized is that this new found platform freedom would allow many crazies, hippies and single themed candidates to emerge, and over 20 democratic candidates are lining up on platforms from gun laws, to the rich poor divide, to putting less black people in prison – all important issues, but few represent a coherent message that America will understand.
What America cares about according to various polls is healthcare manufacturing jobs and increasingly climate change. We must emphasize that the smart money remains on President Trump winning a second term, but the early votes to see who gets the democrat nomination will single out the real issues – can climate change attract candidate that wish to pass laws to prevent the continued influence of fossil fuel companies. Clearly President Trump, as many Republicans before him, felt that climate change was the invention of the devil to pass left-wing strategies, and as such it was to be opposed.
What we have seen however is that while Trump has blasted climate change, and tried to put through budgets which hamper Environmental Protections, he has been stopped by the control that the democrats have in Congress, and as a result renewable energy remains well funded in the US. We are adamant that if a climate change believer gets into the White House, then suddenly all the pipelines that Trump has tried to push through on Presidential orders, will be shuttered, and all the government land that he has tried to put oil wells on, will also be withdrawn. It is not a coincidence that under his leadership the US has returned to a period of CO2 emissions rising once again, after years of significant shrinkage.
Sanders was first out with a set of climate change policies, and he was adamant that the New Green Deal would go ahead under his leadership; now Beto O’Rourke has gone one better talking about spending $15 trillion over a decade to end fossil fuels in the US. We’re not sure it would really take anything like that amount of money, but it would certainly be a golden age for renewables, and given that both Wind and Solar are currently overtaking gas and certainly coal as the economic way ahead, a ten year stint of government spending would see coal disappear, and hardly any new gas turbines launched, and cede all the high ground to renewables.
But the popular Joe Biden has come out with a far more wishy washy stance on renewables, and by damning climate change through faint praise, he may hope to attract rust belt voters while not scaring republicans with high tax and spend promises, and that way may win the nomination.
The truth is that renewables are the way ahead for all of this. Every dollar spent on renewables is a dollar spent primarily on jobs, since both solar and wind (and if it ever comes wave power and hydrogen from electrolysis) all replace raw fossil materials with labor, replace coal with jobs. So that every dollar spent on renewables is almost directly spent on jobs. It’s a shame the candidates live in a country with weak experience of seeing this through in renewables, and have little evidence to make them bold in the claims that a spend on renewables will a) Be like a huge stimulus to the economy, b) Create a huge number of new and permanent jobs c) Get the US back into the race for the main energy business on the planet instead of conceding it to the Chinese and Europeans; and d) Soften the divide between the rich and the poor parts of the US, because renewables jobs will happen everywhere.
Next stop, we will see during the early voting just how far the US voting public will go over climate change, and as we move from March 2020 to July, when the nomination is made, we will be clearer and clearer on how strong a role climate change will play in the coming election.