Today, Tom Steyer, president and 2013 founder of the NextGen Climate group, challenged American politicians to step up to the plate when it comes to climate change. He called on 2016 US election candidates and current elected officials to address the subject directly and lay out plans to power the US with more than 50% clean energy by 2030, creating impetus for a completely clean energy economy by 2050.
Steyer says that to prevent climate disaster, strengthen the US economy, and create jobs, “Our country needs bold leaders who will lay out a plan to achieve more than 50% clean energy by 2030.”
Like many others, Steyer feels that strong leadership is lacking among presidential candidates for the 2016 US election, especially on the Republican side. The NextGen news release mentions Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, and Ted Cruz in particular. The handwriting is writ large upon the wall about politics and climate change. Here are some potent reasons why candidates should take stands:
- Bloomberg, reporting the results of a new Quinnipiac poll today: “A clear majority of voters in the crucial presidential election swing states of Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia agree with Pope Francis’ call to action on the issue of climate change.”
- ABC News/Washington Post poll (Langer Research), April 3, 2015: “Americans by 59-31% say they want the next president to be someone who favors government action to address climate change, and 58 percent call it an important issue.”
- NYTimes/Stanford University poll, January 2015: “An overwhelming majority of the American public, including half of Republicans, support government action to curb Climate Change, and two-thirds of Americans said they were more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change.”
- Benenson Strategy Group, January 2015: “72 percent of likely 2016 voters said they support the United States signing on to an international agreement on climate change.”
- The Hill, a a top US political website based in DC and read by the White House and more lawmakers than any other site, quotes a poll conducted by Hart Research last October: 54% of the eligible voters surveyed across five swing states (Colorado, New Hampshire, Michigan, Iowa, and North Carolina) are more likely to vote for a candidate that wants to fight climate change.
NextGen also previews the results of one of its latest surveys, soon to be published, in which 69% of voters in eight battleground states respond favorably to powering America with more than 50% clean energy by 2030 and a completely clean energy economy by 2050. Only 8% responded unfavorably.
Among the other main points Steyer’s organization relates:
“The power grid and American businesses are already shifting towards clean, low-cost energy sources…. But the deck is still stacked against clean energy and the economic growth it can spur—government subsidies and preferential treatment for fossil fuel polluters stifle innovation and slow our shift away from the outdated energy sources of the past.”
NextGen says that the president determined by the 2016 US election must act boldly to accelerate the transition to clean energy. “Just as computers and the internet revolutionized our economy over the past few decades, economists and scientists say that moving to clean energy sources will create jobs, save lives by reducing pollution, and drive the kind of economic growth that benefits all Americans. The global race for climate solutions and clean energy is already underway. The question for the public is whether the United States will seize this opportunity to lead, or be left behind as other nations reap the economic benefits.”
For reference, the current US climate pledge before the United Nations is a 26-28% reduction from 2005 levels by 2025. The official submission states: “This target is consistent with a straight-line emission reduction pathway from 2020 to deep, economy-wide emission reductions of 80% or more by 2050.” From this perspective, Steyer’s proposed goal represents a much faster emissions decrease between now and 2030 than already planned, resulting in a 20% unmet need by 2050.
Rhea Suh of the often critical Natural Resources Defense Council finds the existing US INDC attainable, even possibly exceedable, although it “will require several critical steps.” The US Energy Information Administration estimates that the Clean Power Plan can propel the United States toward a 43% clean energy target (using wind, solar, hydro, and existing nuclear) by 2030. “A target of more than 50% clean energy by 2030 will require full implementation of the Clean Power Plan,” the agency says, “as well as new policies and investments in clean energy to accelerate this much-needed transition.”
Also, NextGen Climate presents a compelling economic case for clean energy in a white paper accompanying Steyer’s news release. The PDF publication, The Economic Case For Clean Energy, demonstrates how the energy transition has already begun and strongly advises US leaders to seize the opportunity and actively promote policies that build on emergent clean energy.