It is Increasingly Clear that the Presidential Election Will Determine the Outcome of the Climate DebateAlan Carlin | June 3, 2016
As I reported last week the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has clearly laid out a policy position opposed to the Obama Administration’s climate/energy policy. This contrasts strongly with the two Democratic Presidential candidates, who are far to the left of the Administration. Sanders advocates an end to the use of fossil fuels. This would devastate the US standard of living and the effectiveness of US military operations currently using fossil fuels. Clinton’s views seem to vary with the audience, but she clearly favors far more (non-hydro) renewables and has even advocated an end to fossil fuels.
This week Secretary of State John Kerry strongly attacked Trump for his pledge to undo the proposed Paris Protocol/treaty on climate. Kerry claimed that Trump’s pledge would be “reckless, counterproductive, self-destructive. It would be an act of extraordinary danger to our country….And it would in the end be an act of ignorance, of utter, unbelievable, contemptuous ignorance.”
Kerry concluded that “I think that people are waking up now to the fact that the solution to climate change is actually energy policy” that can both create jobs and clean up the environment.” This ignored the lack of any valid scientific basis for the Administration’s energy policy and its very adverse effects on job creation and lack of significant relevance to environmental “clean up.”
The Result Is a Clear Difference between the Two Parties
In the past Presidential nominees have generally tried to obscure and downplay their views on climate/energy, presumably in hopes of getting votes from both sides of this contentious issue. But we now have a clear distinction between the two parties’ candidates (with the partial exception of Clinton) on climate/energy policy, which hitherto has never been so clearly laid out by major party candidates. The Democratic candidates are clearly abandoning lower income citizens who are the ones that will be most hurt by their candidates’ climate/energy policy in favor of the views of higher income environmentalists. Trump, on the other hand, is clearly supporting the interests of lower income citizens in this respect. This realignment of the two parties’ policy positions is of considerable importance for the future of both parties and represents what may prove to be a historic shift.
So it is now fairly clear what the various Presidential candidates’ climate/energy policies will be if elected and what the consequences of the election are likely to be for climate/energy policy over the next 4-8 years. Of course the next President is not the only decision maker concerning climate/energy. But if he/she has four or more years to get his/her way it is difficult to see how he/she cannot get his/her way despite the views of Congress and the courts. Among other things, the new President will be able to propose at least one new Supreme Court justice reflecting his/her views, which is likely to make all the difference in the Court’s reviews of Administration actions.