Planet Wildcat

Climate Change Key Election Issue

Debate brings contrasting opinions about dangers

Jeffery Sauers, Guest Editorialist

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Throughout the three US presidential debates, climate change has remained the elephant in the room. Moderators of each debate have failed to present Clinton or Trump with a question on the topic of climate change. Even after witnessing the aftermath of recent extreme weather events (Louisiana floods, Hurricane Matthew and California’s drought) American politics seem to lack a sense of urgency regarding climate change. The disregard for such an important topic of the 21st century seems to appall climate campaigners around the country.

“I’ve been shocked at the lack of questions on climate change. It really is fiddling while the world burns,” said Kerry Emanuel, a leading climate scientist. While there has been a subsequent lack of discussion of climate change at the televised debates, each candidate has provided the public with, at the very least, a general idea of their views on the topic.

Republican candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the existence of climate change throughout his campaign. Trump has discussed his plans of withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, a treaty within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. He also would like to discard the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon emissions by power plants and increases the use of renewable energy. Trump has a clearly naive and irrational stance on climate change, claiming that “Global warming is an expensive hoax”.  He also plans to end a moratorium on coal leasing, while also stopping oil imports from OPEC countries. Donald Trump’s disregard for environmental health is clear and the candidate shows no effort in developing his stance on the topic

Democrat Hillary Clinton, while Secretary of State, set up a whole wing of the State Department devoted to spreading fracking around the world. Clinton had favored the Keystone Pipeline from the start, only to change her stance after witnessing Bernie Sanders’ success in the primaries. She has recently praised the Paris agreement and wants to cut energy waste and methane emissions, reduce oil consumption and invest in clean energy. Hillary Clinton wants to create a $60bn Clean Energy Challenge that gives incentives to states to fight carbon pollution. Clinton currently opposes Arctic drilling and the Keystone XL pipeline, and supports fracking under strict conditions. In contrast to what she has discussed, Clinton has maintained a calculated silence about the most dramatic and important fossil-fuel fight of the moment; the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Even the sight of attack dogs being used on peaceful Native American protesters failed to move her to break ranks with her industry allies. Although these facts don’t make it easy to vote for her, it’s clear who will fight hardest for the issue of climate change. This election has made clear that we then need to press harder than ever for real, genuine progress on the biggest environmental crisis the world has ever faced.

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Climate Change Key Election Issue