climate change

Opinion: US 2020 Election – It is make or break for climate change in the US

By Anders Lorenzen

When Barack Obama beat John McCain in the 2008 US Election to become the first black US president it was an election very different from today.  It was probably to some extent quite boring and was fought around policies, and some might wish for those boring times to come back. In fact, when a spectator tried to paint Obama as un-American, McCain quickly shut her down. 

Both candidates in 2008 accepted the science that climate change was real,  what differed was their approach to it. 

Spin forward 12 years, and the Republican Party (GOP) have become not only a full-blown climate-denying party but also a science-denying party. And the last years of Trump have taken this to a whole new extreme level, fuelled by conspiracy theories. 

Most important election

It has become a cliche that every four years when there is a US election it is labelled  “the most important election ever”, but this time it really is true. This is the most important US election. What is at stake this November does not even compare to any previous elections. 

Unlike in 2008, there is no nuance in this election, and there should be no excuse to vote for anything but Biden. The policy differences really are black and white.

In other countries, it is becoming more common to hear conservative voices and positive approaches for tackling the climate crisis. And, indeed, it is an issue so big that it should not be partisan.

Make or break

But, unfortunately, this is not the case in the US where, apart from a few exceptions, the GOP is united as one big climate-denying party.  In any other country, they would be a fringe extreme right-wing party. Sadly, following McCain`s loss, the party chose to distance themselves further away from reality and with Trump as president we have seen a climate- and-science- denying administration never before seen in the US. 

There is an argument that the only way that the party could reform is, to use a Trump term, if they were to lose `bigly` on November the 3rd. And we are not just talking about the presidential race but the Senate, the House, Gubernatorial and other local races too. To take climate change seriously, the party needs to be shaken up. And they must allow the young forces in the party, who do see climate change as a critical issue, to come to the table.

No more time can be wasted

Trump’s science-denying administration has cost a lot of time and set the US, the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter, dangerously late in tackling climate change. There’s literally no more time to waste. This is the last call for not only the US but also the world if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 

With the GOP resistant to climate action, even if Biden wins the presidential election but the Democrats do not win the Senate that might not be enough as the GOP could gridlock and delay and sow doubt. As I have previously written (hyperlink to be inserted) to ensure rapid climate action from the US Democrats must win the Senate too.

Voters who embrace climate action but who have historically always voted Republican must now change their party allegiance. The party must be penalised for not embracing climate action.  As of now, there’s only one way to ensure the US starts to heal their lacklustre action on reducing emissions and regulating the biggest polluters, and that is to vote Biden and Democratic. There can be no more years to waste, this is really the last chance US.

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