climate change

Opinion: US 2020 election: The 2020 candidate with a realistic, but progressive approach to climate change is no more


Elizabeth Warren during happier days when she announced her candidature for president last year. Photo credit: Elizabeth Warren via Flickr.

By Anders Lorenzen

Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusets, earlier this month eventually dropped out of the 2020 presidential race with an emotional but defiant speech. This leaves just two candidates who can realistically win enough delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders who are at opposite poles of the Democratic Party.

In time to come, people will reflect on why Warren, a hugely popular, influential, intelligent and sharp politician, did not earn more delegates. And much will undoubtedly boil down to sexism. Instead, the world is left with two men in their late 70’s to be the challengers to Trump. There is, of course, one female left in the race, the Hawaiian congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. But as she has earned only one delegate and has not qualified for any of the debates, many are wondering why she hasn’t yet dropped out.

Elizabeth Warren presented one of the strongest climate change plans of any of the serious candidates. She was influenced by Governor Jay Inslee, the early runner who ran on a climate platform but who dropped out last year when the challenger field was still strong.           

At that point, he made his climate policies open source, which Warren has picked from. Many Sanders supporters might disagree and argue that the Sanders plan was the strongest. But while Sanders focused on emotional popular messages such as let’s blame climate change on capitalism, and let’s end fossil fuel subsidies, his plan never got near Warren’s in terms of details. Better than other politicians, she showed her understanding of the issues and how best to tackle them. Biden has routinely been attacked for lacking ambitions with his plan. His policies are falling far short of what is needed to tackle climate change. And he has close ties to the fossil fuel industry and has taken money from the industry.

As a former law professor at Harvard, Elizabeth Warren`s attention to detail and knowledge of the law informed her policies and plans which, more than any other candidates, were carefully thought out and researched.

But she was also a force to be reckoned with in debates, and she will be remembered as the person who effectively ended billionaire Mike Bloomberg`s campaign at his very first debate by asking him direct critical questions for which he had no answers. 

Warren had taken a different stance from Sanders on the role of capitalism. Instead of providing popular soundbites, such as let’s get rid of it, she looked at policies whereby American capitalism could be reformed. This so that it would work for ordinary Americans, would effectively tackle the climate crisis, create thousands of green jobs and invest in improved infrastructure projects.

She also stopped short of saying that nuclear has no role in America’s energy system while being critical of the industry, she insists it still has a role of to play and must be kept operational in order to reduce emissions. But she did say that she would not build any new nuclear plants which would eventually be phased out and replaced with renewables.

Her climate plan detailed the most comprehensive approach to tackle climate change amongst any of the candidates and covering more than renewables. She endorsed the Green New Deal proposal but also touched on other policy areas such as infrastructure and buildings, manufacturing, research, trade, corporate accountability, environmental justice, public lands and indigenous people’s land.

Looking ahead where does this leave us? The hope is that whether Sanders or Biden eventually become the nominee, they will learn from her and her ideas and plans. Perhaps the winner might make her a running mate or offer her a prominent position in his cabinet.

Elizabeth Warren is a talented politician and deserves a senior position in the next Democratic administration which, for the sake of the planet, we hope will be elected in November. 

And at this point, there is only sadness that the US will have to wait at least another four years before they can elect their first female president.


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