Last Wednesday the MNP Group officially proclaimed our endorsement of Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama. We here at green.mnp would like to follow suit and endorse Obama as the best candidate to lead the country into a future of sound environmental policy and action. Obama has made it clear that climate change and energy policy will be one of the ‘defining issues’ of his presidential campaign. While he is not perfect on every green issue (no candidate is or was) we are confident that he will seek advice from the right minds and engage people across the country and across the globe in reducing our impact. Grist has great resources for determining how green each candidate is, as well as interviews with each of them. Here are some pertinent excerpts from an interview with Obama:
You’ve consistently emphasized consensus and putting aside partisan battles. Many argue that, when it comes to climate change, the maximum of what’s politically possible falls short of the minimum we need to do to solve the problem. In other words, consensus won’t get us where we need to go. Will you fight the political battles needed to move the consensus on this issue, even if that means aggravating partisan rifts?
I am the cosponsor of the most aggressive climate-change legislation in the Senate, along with Barbara Boxer [D-Calif.] and Bernie Sanders [I-Vt.], which would reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. We are going to have to make some big decisions to meet those goals. Consensus doesn’t mean 100 percent consensus — there is undoubtedly going to be resistance from certain parts of the energy sector, and there may be ideological resistance within the Republican Party, and we are going to have to attend to the regional differences in terms of how people get energy. But I believe that we can put together a strong majority to move forward, as long as we are thoughtful about the potential losers in any big piece of energy legislation.
Do you believe that we can achieve political consensus on this goal of 80 percent reductions by 2050?
I think with presidential leadership we can meet this goal, and it will be one of my top priorities. But it is going to require a thoughtful approach that accounts for the possibility that electricity prices will go up, and that low-income people may need to be compensated. We’ll have to deal with the fact that many of our power plants are coal burning, and consider what investments we’re willing to make in coal sequestration. If we make sure that the burdens and benefits of a strong environmental policy are evenly spread across the economy, then people will want to see us take on this problem in an aggressive way.
Some argue that we should only commit to a global climate treaty if China and India do as well. Do you agree? How would you bring China and India to the table?
We shouldn’t look at it as a single tit-for-tat exchange. The U.S. is the world’s largest economy and the largest single source of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions, so it is our responsibility to take the first step. We cannot expect China and India, with a billion people each, to take the lead on this if we do not — but we can expect them to join us if we demonstrate leadership. If we must take the first step, our second and third steps must be conditioned on meaningful participation by all countries. This is also an enormous opportunity for us to provide our technological expertise to these nations so they can leapfrog to cleaner technologies.
Really though, this is just a shameless excuse to post this adorable and exploitive photo of my niece (who will turn 1 in exactly one month!). I say exploitive because she is a young impressionable mind and should be free decide for herself who she wants to endorse politically. But, I predict that young Skyler will grow up to be a fierce advocate for the planet and its people, and thus will not mind if her cuteness is taken advantage of for the cause: