An email from DeSmog Blog, by Brendan DeMelle, Sep 28, 2019
Message From the Editor
Well, that was a little anticlimactic.
After an estimated 4 million people took to the streets during last week’s historic climate strikes, world leaders gathered at the United Nations on Monday for a Climate Action Summit that was big on talk and low on action from major polluters, just as teen climate activist Greta Thunberg predicted in a scathing speech at the summit.
On the same day leaders at the UN failed to call for immediate fossil fuel phase-outs, a “virtual pipeline” truck carrying fracked compressed natural gas crashed on a New York highway, killing its driver and leaking the potent greenhouse gas. Justin Nobel explains why these “virtual pipeline” trucks may be operating unlawfully.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg chastised world leaders Monday, Sep. 23, for failing younger generations by not taking sufficient steps to stop climate change. “You have stolen my childhood and my dreams with your empty words,” Thunberg said at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York. “You’re failing us, but young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you,” she added. Thunberg traveled to the U.S. by sailboat last month so she could appear at the summit. She and other youth activists led international climate strikes on Friday in an attempt to garner awareness ahead of the UN’s meeting of political and business leaders.
Repost from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight [Editor: I am not endorsing Inslee here, but I’m impressed. The ONLY criterion for my vote will be the ability to draw us together to defeat of the malfeasant now holding the office of president. – R.S.]
How Jay Inslee Could Win The 2020 Democratic Nomination
By Christie Aschwanden and Geoffrey Skelley, March 1, 2019, 7:00 AM
In his 2020 presidential announcement video, two-term Washington Governor Jay Inslee declares that climate change is the “most urgent challenge of our time.”
Inslee intends to make climate change his signature issue. “I have heard from around the country that people believe that this issue demands priority, and it demands a candidate from the Democratic Party that will make it front and center,” he told FiveThirtyEight before his campaign announcement. He’s convinced that when voters see his work on climate change along with a laundry list of progressive achievements, it’ll be enough to become the nominee.
But to do that, he first has to beat the Democratic field. As a whole, Inslee has a solidly liberal record, one that could conceivably attract voters on the left of the party. But that could be a crowded part of the field, with well-known names such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders already running. Sanders, for example, has increasingly sought to make climate change one of his core issues, which could steal some of Inslee’s thunder. Still, Inslee probably will be one of the few Democratic governors running, and his ability to point to tangible accomplishments rather than just rhetoric could allow him to differentiate himself from many other Democratic contenders.
But Inslee’s candidacy also relies on an unproven gambit: that climate change can be a winning issue in the 2020 Democratic primary.
At first glance, climate change may not have sufficient salience to carry a presidential campaign. It received little attention during the 2016 presidential race. In three presidential debates and one vice presidential face-off, the topic was never raised specifically.
But Inslee said the time is right to make climate change a central issue because it’s no longer a hypothetical but something that “touches everyone in every part of the country” and “every aspect of life.”
Just before the 2018 midterm elections, Gallup released findings that placed climate change as the fifth-most-important issue to Democratic voters, behind topics like health care and wealth inequality. Still, 75 percent of Democrats said it was an extremely or very important topic, compared with just 27 percent of Republicans. We can see how much the parties have diverged on the issue using a Gallup question that looks at concern about climate change. In 1990, the share of Americans who worried a great deal or a fair amount about global warming did not really differ by party identification. Today, Democrats and Republicans are a world apart.
Given the level of concern among Democrats, perhaps a campaign that homes in on climate change can help Inslee make inroads on the left during the primaries. It’s a topic receiving a lot of attention at the moment because of the proposed “Green New Deal” being pushed by some progressive Democratic House members. Moreover, Democrats can easily use the issue to attack the president’s record. The Trump administration has hindered efforts to address global warming by withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement and working to roll back auto fuel efficiency standards.
But putting climate change ahead of all other issues could be risky, Stanford University psychologist Jon Krosnick said. He has helped lead national surveys of public opinions on climate change since 1995 that have found that most voters don’t make their ballot box decisions based on climate change alone. Krosnick’s surveys show that about 18 percent of voters are passionate about climate change, which means that “taking a stand on this issue is electorally very wise, but making this a signature issue is probably unwise.”
Inslee plans to try anyway. He’s framing climate change as a threat to national security that warrants a huge government response on a scale akin to the Manhattan Project or NASA’s program to put humans on the moon. “This is the eleventh hour, but it should be our hour to shine and for we, as Americans, to do what we do best, which is to create, innovate and build,” Inslee said. His goal is to make the economy less reliant on fossil fuels over the next several decades, a task he called “a massive undertaking requiring a huge concentration of our intellectual talents, our entrepreneurial zeal, and to some degree, our investment.”
To achieve this goal, he advocates for clean fuel standards to reduce emissions from vehicles. He wants to revamp the U.S. electrical grid with a 100 percent clean power plan like the one he’s pushing for in his state of Washington, make buildings “net zero” emissions with stringent building codes, and promote alternative energy with subsidies.
It will be interesting to see whether he proposes a carbon tax to help him accomplish some of those goals. It’s an approach that has broad support from economists across the political spectrum, yet Inslee has been unable to get one passed by voters or the legislature in his own state. He doesn’t think that makes it kryptonite. “A carbon tax is just one of the tools in the toolbox,” he said, adding that it may not be the most important one. The carbon tax that failed in Washington didn’t derive most of its carbon savings from the signal to consumers sent by higher carbon prices, Inslee said, but, rather, from “putting people to work on building and installing solar arrays and building homes and businesses that are net zero. That’s where you’ve actually got the carbon savings.”
Is the failure of that carbon-tax measure in his own state an omen or just a bump in the road for Inslee? Whichever it is, it hasn’t nudged him off his strategy. “I believe that contrast is good in elections,” Inslee said, and the contrast between Democrats and Republicans on climate issues is stark. “We should embrace that contrast, magnify it, and run with it.”
The students striking from schools around the world to demand action on climate change have issued an uncompromising open letter stating: “We are going to change the fate of humanity, whether you like it or not.”
The letter, published by the Guardian, says: “United we will rise on 15 March and many times after until we see climate justice. We demand the world’s decision makers take responsibility and solve this crisis. You have failed us in the past. [But] the youth of this world has started to move and we will not rest again.”
The Youth Strikes for Climate movement is not centrally organised, so keeping track of the fast growing number of strikes is difficult, but many are registering on FridaysForFuture.org. So far, there are almost 500 events listed to take place on 15 March across 51 countries, making it the biggest strike day so far. Students plan to skip school across Western Europe, from the US to Brazil and Chile, and from Australia to Iran, India and Japan.
“For people under 18 in most countries, the only democratic right we have is to demonstrate. We don’t have representation,” said Jonas Kampus, a 17 year old student activist, from near Zurich, Switzerland. “To study for a future that will not exist, that does not make sense.”
The letter says: “We are the voiceless future of humanity … We will not accept a life in fear and devastation. We have the right to live our dreams and hopes.” Kampus helped initiate the letter, which was created collectively via a global coordination group numbering about 150 students, including the first youth climate striker, Sweden’s Greta Thunberg.
The strikes have attracted some criticism and Kampus said: “We wanted to define for ourselves why we are striking.” Another member of the coordination group, Anna Taylor, 17, from north London, UK, said: “The importance of the letter is it shows this is now an international movement.
Taylor said: “The rapid growth of the movement is showing how important it is and how much young people care. It is vital for our future.” Janine O’Keefe, from FridaysForFuture.org, said: “I’ll be very happy with over 100,000 students striking on 15 March. But I think we might reach even beyond 500,000 students.”
Thunberg, now 16 years old and who began the strikes with a solo protest beginning last August, is currently on holiday from school. She was one of about 3,000 student demonstrators in Antwerp, Belgium on Thursday, and joined protesters in Hamburg on Friday morning.
The strikes have been supported by Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief when the Paris deal to fight global warming was signed in 2015. She said: “It’s time to heed the deeply moving voice of youth. The Paris Agreement was a step in the right direction, but it’s timely implementation is key.” Michael Liebreich, a clean energy expert, said: “Anyone who thinks [the strikes] will fizzle out any time soon has forgotten what it is to be young.”
The strikes would not end, Taylor said, until “environmental protection is put as politicians’ top priority, over everything else. Young people are cooperating now, but governments are not cooperating anywhere near as much as they should”. She said students were contacting her from new countries every day, including Estonia, Iceland and Uganda in recent days.
Kampus, who was invited to meet the Swiss environment minister, Simonetta Sommaruga, on Wednesday, said: “The strikes will stop when there is a clear outline from politicians on how to solve this crisis and a pathway to get there. I could be doing so many other things. But I don’t have time as we have to solve this crisis. My dream is to have a life in peace.”