Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trump Runs Headfirst into the New Politics of Climate Change - by Jeremy Symons, Senior Advisor, EDF Action

Land-Ocean Temperature Index (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
In her first debate with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton came out firing on climate change, shining a spotlight on Trump’s prior comments that global warming is a “hoax.” Trump interrupted Clinton to deny making these statements.  But he has called climate change a hoax multiple times.  Most recently, he blamed scientists, telling Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that scientists were secretly laughing about the whole thing.
The New Politics of Climate Change
If climate change had a political glass ceiling, Secretary Clinton just shattered it.

Clinton didn’t wait for moderator Lester Holt to bring up climate change, which is how presidential nominees have historically treated the issue in general elections.  But Clinton boldly inserted the issue just 14 minutes into the first debate, watched by an estimated 84 million people.  Her emphasis on climate change reflects the new politics of climate change.

Global warming is now a mainstream political issue due to the growing concern across the political spectrum (which is now at an 8-year high, according to Gallup).  Independent voters’ views tend to mirror Democrats’ strong support for action, and Republican voters are split on the issue, especially along generational lines.  Conservative millennials who otherwise lean toward supporting Republican candidates no longer trust their own party on this issue, according to a recent nationwide poll of 940 young conservatives by Republican pollster AGC Research on behalf of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform.  Sixty-five percent of young conservatives see climate change as a serious concern.  In a sharp departure from their trust in the Republican party on most issues, only 31% of conservative millennials trust the Republican party more than Democrats to do the right thing when it comes to climate change.

Whether a voter prioritizes climate change near the top or bottom of their list of issues, climate leadership boosts a candidate’s credibility with most voters.  Denying or ignoring climate change, on the other hand, will inevitably create doubts and disconnects as voters struggle to understand how candidates process information and make decisions.
What to Believe?  Read The Candidates’ Energy Plans
Trump has not personally clarified his false denial at the debate, but there can be no doubt where his policy agenda would take us.  Trump has put forward an alarming energy plan aimed at erasing the clean energy regulations that President Obama has put in place.  Trump’s plan seeks to return America to the era when energy companies can emit unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

Trump also wants to do away with the breakthrough Paris climate agreement.  Whatever one’s views on President Obama and his climate actions here in the U.S., it would be foolhardy to unravel the first global agreement that secures commitments from China, India, and a host of other nations to do their fair share to combat climate change.  It has long been a goal of Republicans and Democrats alike to make sure there is an effective global response to climate change.  Not only is Trump convinced that climate change is a hoax, but he is so confident that there is so little risk that he is willing to turn the entire world away from the path of cooperation and action.

View Trump’s plan here.

View Hillary’s plan here.

Reality Check
Climate change is not just a fact check issue. It is a reality check issue.  Here are some reality checks on what is really at stake, with links to just a few of the many resources available on these topics:

Read more at Trump Runs Headfirst into the New Politics of Climate Change

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