Well, yes and no.
Last week in Manchester, NH, Jeb Bush called for a moratorium on all fossil fuel subsidies, which amount to $700 billion per year in the United States. The caveat? Jeb also called for an end to tax breaks and incentives for the renewables industry – when challenged by an activist, he barked, “So you want to pick winners and losers?” (Um, yes.) At least he’s… ideologically consistent?
That’s more than Hillary Clinton can say. A bedfellow of TransCanada and an architect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, she has repeatedly refused to state her position on the Keystone XL pipeline, a top campaign issue. The last time we heard from her was in 2010: “So as I say, we’ve not yet signed off on it. But we are inclined to do so… we’re either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dirty oil from Canada.” More recently, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and TD Bank, financiers of the Keystone XL pipeline, paid her upwards of $1.6 million to give speeches shortly before announcing her bid for the 2016 elections. Most of her current campaign lobbyists are former fossil fuel industry employees.
Then again, Hillary uses her “two eyes and a brain” to acknowledge that climate change is anthropogenic and real. Her recently released plan to generate 33% of America’s electricity from renewable sources by 2027 is a step in the right direction. But it has no teeth without a serious commitment to keep carbon in the ground. Increasing solar energy generation doesn’t matter for climate if we continue to extract and burn carbon at the same or increased rate. It also won’t challenge the paradigm of extractive energy, which causes immediate harms to nearby communities worldwide.
Pulling federal funding from fossil fuel companies might reduce their production, to Jeb’s credit – and generating more renewable energy might also help, which is what Hillary’s plan implies. Unfortunately, “might” is not good enough. We need a presidential candidate with a climate plan, not a renewable energy plan, that will rapidly transition us off of fossil fuels.
Reality check here: Just a few days ago James Hansen, a former NASA employee and renown climate scientist, released a paper predicting that sea levels will rise at least 10 feet in the next 50 years if business as usual continues. New York and countless coastal cities may only have a few decades of habitability left.
Hillary and Jeb, take note.