Climate Change Is A Top Campaign Issue At Least For Democrats


This year climate change is a top campaign issue at least for Democrats. Yesterday, we looked at president trump's record. On the issue today, we'll explore toe Biden's plan, which is the most ambitious climate proposal. Any presidential candidate has ever laid out. We've got NPR's Nathan rods and NPR's Jeff Brady both of our climate team with us. Hi, guys good morning. So. Let's just the obviously our Joe Biden and Donald Trump do not exactly agree on climate? Change. Absolutely yeah I think that's a fair way to put it. President trump repeatedly rejects climate science and generally he depicts regulations to address climate. Change is bad for the economy and bad for jobs Joe Biden calls climate change existential threat to our health, our economy, our national security, the whole thing but he's also trying to frame it right now as an opportunity you know when? Donald. Trump thinks about climate change he thinks hoax. When I think about I think jobs. Good paying union opposite put. To work. Building a stronger more. Climate resilient nation I mean nate. That sounds great. But has he laid out a plan for how he would actually make that happen. Yes, and it is a lot Hewitt invest money for one climate. Change is part of his economic recovery plan for the pandemic. But he's also says he'll do executive actions right? Other Gate. He says he's GONNA re enter the Paris climate agreement and put the US back in the global climate conversation He's talking about conserving land for biodiversity stopping offshore drilling in the Arctic. Methane from existing oil and gas tell me when you want me to stop. But he's also putting money towards climate adaptation measures to make communities more resilient to sea level rise flooding hurricanes fires. You know the type of things we've experienced over the last few months and he's also promising massive investments in green energy and infrastructure. This is where the. Jobs part of what he's promising comes in. So that means more solar more wind high speed rail, electric car chargers all with the goal of zeroing out carbon pollution from our electrical sector by twenty, thirty five and making the country carbon neutral. So it's contributing anymore to climate change by twenty fifty. And I mean I know a lot of campaigns I mean the rhetoric is aspirational, right but even so I mean by twenty fifty shifting the entire US economy to be carbon neutral to sounds like a massive undertaking is he going to be able to accomplish that Jeff? You know most of the experts I've talked with thinking is possible. The plan includes a lot of executive actions. The Biden says, he would take right away some of the nature mentioned. It also this plan requires new laws passed by Congress to create policies for meeting that overall goal. Now, that's going to require a democratic majority in the Senate most likely I talked with Scott Siegel. He's a partner with the law firm Bracewell, which represents a lot of energy clients including fossil fuel companies, and you can imagine that they have a lot at stake care. He thinks guidance climate plan is realistic. He says, it includes both regulations and incentives for people. In Industries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and I think when a plan has both and doesn't rely only on the carrot or the stick, it's a sign of maturity in approaching these issues. Siegel likes that it leaves room for some fossil fuels with carbon offsets and capture, and he points out that the electric power sector is already on its way to meeting that interim 2035 call some of those companies in utilities are setting net zero carbon goals all on their own. Yeah, and that's an important point. I talked to Karl Frisch who worked at the US Department of Energy under three administrations including trump's she's now at the Rocky Mountain Institute you know and I asked her if she thinks it could all be done by Biden alone if he gets elected. No. So to get where we need to go on climate in the United States to reduce emissions and build a sustainable economy, it takes action by the executive branch action by Congress. And action by state leaders, city leaders, business leaders on the ground, and she says, you know a lot of these actions are already happening at the local level. So a Biden administration would be smart to try to build on that existing momentum. So something we hear president trump attack Joe Biden on a lot is fracking fracking for natural gas. The president alleging that Joe Biden wants to ban it. Let's just clear this up Jeff Does Joe Biden WanNa. Ban fracking. No, he doesn't want to ban fracking. He has repeatedly said that he would not ban all fracking just new fracking on federal land and when trump says that it's aimed at voters and energy producing swing states like Pennsylvania, which actually has very little federal land but that's still a point of contention for for Biden, with mini climate activists who say the country should stop all fracking and keep all fossil fuels in the ground to slow climate change. So. What about the politics of climate change you know I mean we know what the facts are that it is happening that humans have contributed to it as well. But what about the politics of climate change because we know for Republicans it's an incredibly divisive issue where do Democrats stand on Biden's proposals? Well, polling indicates a majority of registered voters in the US view climate change as a real threat to the country, and when you look at Republicans climate change is actually a lot less divisive you get. But in terms of Democrats a recent poll by Pew found that more than two-thirds of Joe Biden supporters sit climate change is very important to them. So Biden's. Plan is not as ambitious as what some Progressive Democrats want to see it is not the green new deal despite what the president repeatedly says, but it is more ambitious than what Joe Biden had initially proposed. So for example, his plan now includes an environmental justice component which would aim to address the fact that people of color are disproportionately affected by pollution climate change and have been for a long time. His plan says he'd do that by investing in disadvantaged communities pulling polluters accountable I talked to Michelle Roberts with the Environmental Justice Health Alliance about this, and she has a long history with Biden because she's actually from Delaware, his home state and she says historically. Always overly supportive when it came to dealing with polluters like dupont over communities like hers he was a Filibuster for the political economy that was running the great state of Delaware. Does that make sense BA- Roberts says she's met with Biden since and she thinks his views have a she supports him but it's going to be important. She says if he's elected to hold them accountable all the things that he's promising to do now. NPR's nate wrought and NPR's Jeff. Brady, thank you for your reporting. Thank you. Thank

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