Following the Lead of Other Candidates, Biden Becomes 15th to Call for Climate Debate

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 11 Jun 2019 21:50:00 GMT

Today, Joe Biden became the 15th Democratic candidate for president to call for a climate debate, making a mockery of Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez’s claim such a debate would be “at the request of one candidate.”

Perez was evidently singling out Jay Inslee, who has made climate action a centerpiece of his campaign.

In fact, the demand for a presidential debate focused on climate began with the youth climate activist groups U.S. Youth Climate Strike and Sunrise Movement. Inslee was the first candidate to support their campaign, though over a dozen fellow candidates soon followed suit.

Biden joined the calls for a climate debate in a conversation with a climate activist following a rally today in Ottumwa, Iowa, Greenpeace reports.

Biden is the ninth of the 13 candidates who have fully qualified for the DNC debates to endorse a climate debate.

In a Medium post, Perez—handpicked as chair by Barack Obama to thwart the candidacy of Keith Ellison—pushed back on the growing calls for a climate debate.

“If we change our guidelines at the request of one candidate who has made climate change their campaign’s signature issue, how do we say no to the numerous other requests we’ve had?”

Perez has not indicated specifically what other existential issue a majority of the Democratic candidates for president, spurred by activists, have requested to debate.

Transcript of Biden exchange:

For Years, The New York Times Has Run "Oil & Money," A High-Dollar Summit For The Global Oil Industry

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 10 Jun 2019 23:46:00 GMT

The New York Times has for years also hosted a high-priced global summit for the chieftains of Big Oil.

The Oil & Money summit, which occurs each October in London, will meet for the fortieth time this October 8th to 10th at the luxury Intercontinental London Park Lane hotel. Top speakers this year include the CEOs of BP and Royal Dutch Shell, and the oil ministers of Qatar and Iraq.

The theme, “Strategies for the Energy Transition,” “reflects the crossroads at which the energy industry now finds itself:”

Advances in technology, ranging from electric vehicles and battery charging to solar and wind power promise extensive disruption to existing patterns of energy usage and threaten the dominance of oil and gas in areas like transportation and power generation. But at the same time, technology breakthroughs in other fields have made the exploration and development of petroleum resources cheaper, safer and more efficient.

The overview politely avoids mention of fossil-fueled global warming, referring only to how the oil and gas industry is “harnessing new technologies” to “reduce its carbon footprint.”

The first day’s focus is the natural gas industry—two of the sessions do explicitly mention climate change, in the context of environmentally conscious investors and the promotion of natural gas “as a bridge fuel to a lower carbon economy.”

The second day’s focus is on the geopolitics of the global oil market; the third day discusses what’s needed to keep the U.S. fracking boom going (“technology holds the key to sustaining US tight oil growth once all the best sweet spots have been produced”) and the threat of electric vehicles to the oil industry.

At no point does it appear that the threat of civilizational collapse due to the continued combustion of fossil fuels, nor the industry’s decades-long campaign to thwart government regulation of climate pollution, will be discussed.

Tickets to the summit are $4,195; for another $795 attendees get the benefit of “Toasting the Energy Intelligence Petroleum Executive of the Year with colleagues and clients at the prestigious annual gala dinner.” This year’s honoree is Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell.

With about 500 attendees, this one conference raises over two million dollars for the Times and its co-host, the industry publisher Energy Intelligence.

A handful of young oil and gas professionals get to attend the conference with the ironically named “Energy Leaders for Tomorrow” sponsorship.

The New York Times Company’s president of its international business, Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, will be opening the summit. On Twitter, he has frequently professed great concern about the Trump administration’s attacks on climate policy. He has not indicated how he will address the world’s lords of oil.

Climate activists have protested the “climate criminals” at the conference the past several years.

In a statement to DeSmog UK in 2018, a New York Times Company spokeswoman said the conference would “address the transition to a low carbon economy, an issue which has been covered extensively by The New York Times. That transition is unlikely to occur without the participation of the world’s largest energy companies.”

A newer addition to the New York Times Conferences line-up is the New Rules Summit, where the New York Times calls on leaders “to create a boldly inclusive vision of the workplace— and transform it into reality.” Its speakers reflect that mission- 29 of 34 are women, the majority non-white. The New York Times does not appear to be calling on Oil & Money attendees to do the same—only two of the 53 speakers are women. There do not appear to be any black speakers.

The Times’ editorial board purports that “most sentient people agree the world must rapidly wean itself from” fossil fuels “or risk ecological and social disaster.”

By that measure, the Times’ involvement in helping ExxonMobil develop climate-denial and greenwashing advertorials on its pages and website, as well as its organization of the Oil & Money Conference, puts into question the sentience of its leadership.

Spurred by Youth Climate Activists, Over A Dozen Democratic Candidates Call for Climate Debate - Nixed By DNC

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:40:00 GMT

Spurred by teen-aged climate activists, a majority of the Democratic candidates for president have called on the Democratic National Committee to hold a debate focused on climate change.

This week, DNC chair Tom Perez announced no such debate would happen, tweeting that the DNC “will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area – we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on all the issues.”

The U.S. Youth Climate Strike, led by a group of teenagers inspired by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, has been bird-dogging candidates since April 2019. With the support of MoveOn, the group launched an online petition to the DNC that now has nearly 55,000 signatures. A broad coalition of environmentalist and progressive groups followed suit with a joint petition that now has over 191,000 signatures. A DailyKos petition has an additional 17,000 signatures and counting.

Below is a sourced listing of the 14 Democratic candidates for president who have announced their support for a climate debate and when they did so. Not only is that a majority of the 23 major candidates running for president, the list includes eight of the 14 candidates who have passed the DNC threshold to qualify for their debates (bold below).

Most of the announcements were in response to an in-person request from a U.S. Youth Climate Strike activist, though some were in response to reporter questions.

In their announcement of support for a climate debate, Gabbard and Moulton campaigns called for another debate to focus on national security.

Unlike the 2012 and 2016 elections, most of the Democratic candidates have climate change a central theme of their campaigns, outlining competing visions for transforming the United States toward sustainability and climate justice.

Strangely, DNC spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa argued the DNC couldn’t host a climate debate because it would favor Jay Inslee, who has made climate the central theme of his presidential campaign. “Once we start allowing one candidate to dictate what the debate is about, we have to say ‘yes’ to all of them on their core issue,” Hinojosa told HuffPost. “Otherwise people would say we are benefiting one candidate. And if we were to have issue-area debates, how do you pick 12 issue areas?”

On Sunday, Perez gave an even more incoherent excuse for refusing to hold a climate debate, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Perez told activists at an event in Orlando: “It’s just not practical. And as someone who worked for Barack Obama, the most remarkable thing about him was his tenacity to multitask, and a president must be able to multitask.”

Perez seems to be confused about the cross-cutting implications of climate change despite his role as the head of the Democratic Party. The 2016 Democratic platform claimed that “Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century,” and that “Democrats recognize the catastrophic consequences facing our country, our planet, and civilization.”

Update 6/13 Updated to reflect that Kirsten Gillibrand had passed both criteria (polling and contributors) for the debates on Monday.

Biden, Warren Release Similar Climate Investment Plans

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 04 Jun 2019 20:01:00 GMT

Democratic presidential contenders Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have released climate plans. Warren’s plan appears somewhat more ambitious, whereas Biden’s plan explicitly endorses carbon-capture technology.

Some specific highlights from Biden:
  • “100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050”
  • “federal investment of $1.7 trillion over the next ten years”
  • “investing $400 billion over ten years” in “clean energy research and innovation”
  • including “double down on federal investments and enhance tax incentives for carbon capture, use and storage” and nuclear power research

The Biden plan also notes: “If the global temperature continues to increase at the current rate and surpasses 1.5°C, the existential threat to life will not be limited to just ecological systems, but will extend to human life as well.” However, the goals of the plan do not appear to be in line with the global emissions reductions needed to keep warming below 1.5°C.

In other newsmaking, it appears Joe Biden is accepting the aims of the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, if not yet having formally signed on: “Biden for President will not accept contributions from oil, gas and coal corporations or executives.”

Warren released her Green Manufacturing Plan, with highlights including:
  • ”$400 billion in funding over the next ten years for clean energy research and development”
  • ”$1.5 trillion federal procurement commitment over the next ten years”
  • ” a new federal office dedicated to selling American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy technology abroad and a $100 billion commitment to assisting countries to purchase and deploy this technology”
  • “we must cut projected global emissions by more than half by 2030”

The plans are surprisingly similar in terms of scope, especially in terms of the budget expenditures, and in many of the details. Warren’s plan calls for greater expenditure in federal procurement than Biden’s, and appears more ambitious in terms of emissions targets. Notably, Warren frequently refers to the Green New Deal, which she has endorsed, whereas Biden praises the Green New Deal’s “framework” but does not appear to follow its particulars closely.

Update: As first noticed by Credo Action’s Josh Nelson, the Biden plan cribbed some text directly from the labor-environmentalist group Blue Green Alliance and from the fossil-fuel-industry Carbon Capture Coalition. The Biden campaign has since directly credited those organizations, which appear to be advising the campaign.

Former Waxman-Markey Staffers Ana Unruh Cohen and Alison Cassady Hired to Staff Committee on Climate Crisis

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 26 Feb 2019 20:50:00 GMT

Experienced environmental lobbyists and former House colleagues Ana Unruh Cohen and Alison Cassady have been tapped by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) to become the chief and deputy chief of staff respectively for the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Unruh Cohen had been the deputy director of the committee’s predecessor, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

They previously worked directly together as staffers helping to craft the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) for their bosses Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) from 2007 until the bill’s demise in 2009.

Dr. Unruh Cohen was a long-time staffer for Markey, moving with him to the U.S. Senate before becoming the top lobbyist for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); Cassady was a long-time staffer for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) before becoming the head of Energy and Environment Policy at the Center for American Progress—a role Unruh Cohen originated in 2004.

Unruh Cohen’s Hill experience also includes working as the deputy staff director of the Natural Resource Committee Democratic staff.

Unruh Cohen holds a bachelor’s in chemistry from Trinity University and received her PhD in earth sciences from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She is based in NRDC’s Washington, D.C., office.

As the managing director of Energy and Environment Policy at the Center for American Progress, Cassady wrote reports on issues as varied as the social cost of carbon and the power of corporate polluter lobbyists. Cassady joined CAP after working as a senior professional staff member for Rep. Henry Waxman and the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, where she focused on unconventional oil and gas development, climate change, air quality, and nuclear issues.

As a House staffer, Cassady led an investigation into hydraulic fracturing, uncovering the continued use of diesel fuel in hydraulic fracturing and writing a first-of-its-kind report on the chemical components of hydraulic fracturing fluids. Cassady developed additional expertise on offshore oil and gas development as a key member of the Energy and Commerce Committee team investigating the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in 2010.

She also served Rep. Waxman during his tenure as chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and helped investigate the events leading to the financial crisis in 2008. Before beginning her time in the House, Cassady was research director for Environment America and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. She is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

The Labor Network for Sustainability Outlines How to Make the Green New Deal Work

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 26 Feb 2019 16:43:00 GMT

The Labor Network for Sustainability has released “18 Strategies for a Green New Deal: How to Make a Climate Mobilization Work,” a paper intended to “stimulate discussion of the Green New Deal among labor, environmental, progressive, policy, and justice constituencies.” The paper, authored by LNS Research and Policy Director Jeremy Brecher, details 18 strategies for implementing the Green New Deal resolution’s broad goals, organized in three parts:

Part 1: Mobilize government
  • Establish Green New Deal mobilization agencies
  • Use regulatory powers to freeze, phase-out, and replace all fossil fuel infrastructure
  • Use government to plan the transition
  • Establish Green New Deal agencies for reorganizing economic sectors
  • Use government to reshape the market
  • Use the tools of macroeconomic policy
  • Use the powers of government to rectify past and present injustices
  • Protect low-income energy consumers
  • Empower community-led initiatives
  • Democratize democracy
Part 2: Mobilize labor
  • Leave no worker behind
  • Guarantee jobs for all
  • Ensure workers rights and good union jobs
Part 3: Mobilize money and material resources
  • Capture the benefits of the transition to fossil free energy
  • Make the polluters pay
  • Cut wasteful and unnecessary spending
  • Mobilize investment
  • Support and fund a Global Green New Deal

The mission of the Labor Network for Sustainability is to engage workers and communities in building a transition to a society that is ecologically sustainable and economically just.

Green New Deal Resolution Now Has 95 Co-Sponsors

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 14 Feb 2019 20:17:00 GMT

The Green New Deal resolution, H.Res. 109/S.Res. 59, picked up 18 more co-sponsors as of this Wednesday (with committee assignments):

  • Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), Armed Services
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15)
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), House Administration Chair
  • Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), Agriculture, Ways & Means
  • Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA-32)
  • Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37)
  • Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA-38), Ways & Means
  • Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA-44), Energy & Commerce
  • Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL-07), Ways & Means
  • Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), Appropriations
  • Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD-03), Energy & Commerce
  • Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-07), Oversight & Reform Chair
  • Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO-04)
  • Rep. David Price (D-NC-04), Appropriations
  • Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY-03), Ways & Means
  • Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), Appropriations Chair
  • Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Education & Labor Chair
  • Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA-09), Armed Services Chair

The updated list of co-sponsors is below.

Green New Deal Resolution Picks Up Six More Co-Sponsors

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 09 Feb 2019 21:25:00 GMT

The Green New Deal resolution, now H.Res. 109/S.Res. 59, picked up six more co-sponsors on Saturday:
  • Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34)
  • Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO-02), member of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis
  • Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA-04)
  • Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY-07)
  • Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY-09)
  • Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI-01)

The updated list of co-sponsors is below.

Green New Deal Resolution Launches With 61 Representatives, 13 Senators as Co-Sponsors

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 09 Feb 2019 06:45:00 GMT

Following Thursday’s announcement of the Green New Deal Ocasio-Markey resolution, supporters have announced several dozen co-sponsors, including 61 members of the House of Representatives (two non-voting) and 9 U.S. senators.

The list, from Justice Democrats, is below:

FULL TEXT: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey Release Green New Deal Resolution

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 07 Feb 2019 20:11:00 GMT

In front of the U.S. Capitol building, Rep. Alexandrio Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today announced the introduction of resolution “recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal” that builds a just, full-employment economy to stop global warming.

The resolution now has 64 original co-sponsors in the House and 9 in the Senate.

The full text of the resolution (PDF) is below:

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