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Democrats' Platform: Surmount Climate Challenge with Good-Paying Jobs, Low-Cost Clean Energy

The Democratic Party officially adopted their 2016 platform at their national convention in Philadelphia on July 25th. The energy and environment section is titled “Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental Justice.” It begins with this statement: “Climate change is an urgent threat and the defining challenge of our time.” 

The challenge doesn’t actually seem to be much of a challenge, because the platform claims that tackling it by producing “50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade, with half a billion solar panels installed within four years and enough renewable energy to power every home in the country” will create “millions of good-paying middle class jobs” and “save families and businesses money on their energy bills.” 

“Democrats believe that carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy and help meet our climate goals.” However, putting a price on emissions does not mean a carbon tax, which is not mentioned, although the platform does say that they “support using every tool available to reduce emissions now.” These steps include the so-called Clean Power Plan, fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and heavy-duty trucks, and higher energy efficiency standards in building codes and appliances.

As for environmental justice, Democrats “will work to expand access to cost-saving renewable energy by low-income households, create good-paying jobs in communities that have struggled with energy poverty, and oppose efforts by utilities to limit consumer choice or slow clean energy deployment.”

Although renewable energy apparently saves us money, “Democrats believe the tax code must reflect our commitment to a clean energy future by eliminating special tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel companies as well as defending and extending tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy.”

Democrats vow to prohibit oil production in the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast and to “phase down extraction of fossil fuels from our public lands,” while working “to expand the amount of renewable energy production on federal lands and waters.”

The platform pointedly mentions twice that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has called climate change a “hoax.” Trump has also promised to stop funding the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Treaty. Democrats, on the other hand, “are committed to a national mobilization, and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II.” Mobilization will begin in the first 100 days of the next administration when “the President will convene a summit of the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists, and indigenous communities to chart a course to solve the climate crisis.”

In addition to supporting corporate disclosure of climate risk, “Democrats also respectfully request the Department of Justice to investigate allegations of corporate fraud on the part of fossil fuel companies accused of misleading shareholders and the public on the scientific reality of climate change.”

My earlier post on the Republican Party’s 2016 platform may be found here.