We Must Fight For The World We Care About
As we head into the November elections, Americans have many important concerns ranging from our global pandemic, Supreme Court judges and health care, as well as the economy.
Climate change will eventually have the most impact on our daily lives, including our health and the economy. In fact, it is impacting our lives right now. From our expanding desertification to lower snow pack, we are seeing the changes right here in Colorado.
How critical is this election? Among other things it will determine whether the United States regains its position as a leader on the world stage when it comes to saving the planet. As many know, our current president, Donald Trump, withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, a voluntary measure for countries to reduce heat trapping global warming gases.
The date the United States began the process to formally withdraw was Nov. 4, 2019 – but the rules stipulate it won’t be official until a year later. That, as former Vice President Al Gore has noted, happens to be the first day after the election.
That means we could still rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on Nov. 5 should the elected president provide 30 days notice.
For his part, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has promised to re-commit to the Paris Agreement. The Biden team has stated that they will work towards net-zero emissions by 2050 while also ending fossil fuel subsidies. On Aug. 31, Biden said he would not support banning fracking. Unfortunately, he has had conflicting comments on this topic. In addition, his plan still supports the burning of coal.
Biden’s climate plan has the support of organized labor, as it focuses on job re-training and social justice. His running mate, Kamala Harris, is a past sponsor of the Green New Deal and has said that she supports holding oil and gas companies accountable, which resonates with environmentalists. However, as attorney general of California she did not go as far as other states on litigation. The Biden-Harris ticket has gone further than the Democratic platform by promising to put an end to fossil fuel subsidies.
Trump, as Biden noted, has claimed repeatedly that climate change is a “hoax.” In the less than three years since Trump has been in office, more than 100 environmental rules have been reversed, including protections for our national monuments. Yet incredibly, he has praised his administration for an “incredible record of natural conservation and environmental protection.” The numerous rollbacks and reversals can impact our future emissions. In August, the Trump Administration reversed methane emission regulations, a potent greenhouse gas.
This summer, while the West Coast, as well as Colorado, experienced historic wildfires, Trump was challenged by a California official for the president’s position on climate change. Trump responded, “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.” When the official said, “I wish science agreed with you,” the president offered up this: “Ok, well, I don’t think science knows, actually.”
Studies show that most Americans are concerned about climate change, and nearly two-thirds believe the federal government should act more aggressively. Yet the current administration has reversed fuel efficiency standards, restrictions on power plant emissions, and pushed for more oil drilling, including in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
As I was finishing up this column, the news broke of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Supreme Court Justice left a legacy for women’s rights and gender equality, and she also was a champion for the environment. Ginsburg was part of the court’s majority when it ruled on its first climate case in Massachusetts versus EPA, which allowed the Clean Air Act to regulate automobile tailpipes. Standing at 5’1” Ginsburg was an icon and larger than life. She encouraged us to “fight for the things we care about.”
I will continue to follow Ginsburg’s advice, and hope you will as well. Our future depends on it.
Tracey MacDermott is chair of the board of Greater Park Hill Community, Inc. She was trained as a Climate Reality Leader in 2017, and is currently the Statewide Co-Chair of the Climate Reality Project for the 100% Committed Campaign. Contact her at email@example.com.