Friday, July 15, 2016

Democrats Embrace Price on Carbon While Clinton Steers Clear of Carbon Tax

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders hammered out their differences on a carbon tax to arrive at a Democratic Party platform both could agree with. (Credit: Reuters) Click to Enlarge.
After a prolonged struggle between Democratic Party factions, the platform committee produced a statement of climate principles that its nominee could accept, and that its progressive activists could declare had at least moved the political needle in a greener direction.

Most notably, the platform that delegates will be asked to endorse at the Democratic Party convention, which starts on July 25 in Philadelphia, calls for putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.  It's a formulation that stops short of an outright demand for a carbon tax, which Hillary Clinton has balked at.

Similarly, it emphasizes renewables over natural gas as the best way forward on clean energy, while stopping short of a ban on fracking.

And it calls for a climate change litmus test like the one President Obama used to block the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline—saying that federal decisions must "contribute to solving, not significantly exacerbating climate change"—but does not require that most fossil fuel reserves be left in the ground.

Even some activists who had wanted much more called this significant progress.

"The zeitgeist has shifted from 'all of the above' in 2012 to 'keep it in the ground' in 2016," Jamie Henn, strategy and communications director for environmental activist organization, said in a statement.

The platform, which was contested more vigorously in last weekend's platform committee meeting in Orlando than any in recent decades, is also more progressive than ever.  It takes into account not just the concessions on climate but others on wages, trade, criminal justice and education.  All these shifts moved Clinton in the direction of her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who finally endorsed Clinton after the platform issues were decided.

The party platform, however, is more philosophical position statement than binding policy directive.

The Clinton campaign has shown no indication that it intends to call for any form of direct pricing of carbon, such as a carbon tax or a national cap-and-trade system, efforts to address climate change that would require Congressional approval.

Read more at Democrats Embrace Price on Carbon While Clinton Steers Clear of Carbon Tax

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