Column: 2020 is the year of the climate


Photo credit: Markus Spiske from Unsplash, licensed for reuse

The presidential election will be held Nov. 3 this year. Remember to pre-register to vote and vote early in order to make a difference for our nation and for our climate.

By Norah Adler, Columnist

Climate change is finally being taken seriously and acting as a focal point of this year’s 2020 presidential election along with other issues, but allow me to clarify the importance of this election specifically in regards to the vital issue of climate change. 

Let’s start with the good news: people are actually starting to care about the climate from both sides of the political spectrum. According to a study done by Pew Research, “two-thirds of Americans think government should do more on climate.” Yay! But why on earth is climate legislation so difficult to pass, and why is 2020 a climate election? 

To us Californians, the effects of climate change are already here. Between the mass fires that have sparked across the state and the poor air quality, we feel the urgency for climate action. While some people seem to think that cleaning our floors will help contain our wildfires instead of, I don’t know, listening to Indigenous voices or reducing carbon emissions, Joe Biden’s very ambitious climate plan, which includes a $2 trillion investment “in a massive green-jobs program to build renewable energy infrastructure”, gives me hope.

Known as a moderate Democrat, Biden actually entered the primaries with an unimpressive climate plan that was ridiculed by some of his competitors. According to journalist Alex Blumberg “what started to emerge was a race to the top, a race for each candidate to outdo each other by who had the most ambitious and sophisticated climate plan”. 

Biden’s new plan is backed by Senator Bernie Sanders, and while he does not support The Green New Deal, a progressive climate and economic plan, his plan is, in some ways, the same. With 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles, investment in wind and solar power, a goal to end fossil fuels by, 2035, and a 2050 deadline for net zero emission for greenhouse gasses, I would say this is the future I want to live in. He will also ban new fracking sites to open on public lands, rejoin the Paris Agreement and restore environmental protections that the Trump administration rolled back. 

As for Trump’s plan, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a conservation strategist, policy expert and marine biologist, says it best in her podcast How To Save a Planet: “There’s nothing forward-looking about…what he would do on climate change. Just a list of ways he has…tried to destroy the environment in the last four years.”

This is what happens when we have a president endorsed and aided by the very industries that are in charge of 71% percent of our global emissions like oil and gas. He does not care about the residents in Los Angeles who are suffering serious health issues from oil drilling sites or Indigenous communities that are being forced, yet again, to sacrifice their history and land for these companies. 

For those of you out there who don’t care about a tree, what about a person? What about an entire culture? 

Under Trump’s administration, fueled by his disbelief in science, we have been removed from the Paris Climate agreement, and restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions for oil and gas companies, and cars and trucks have been reduced. In California, he has limited our government from imposing stricter car emission standards. He brags about his environmental rollbacks, which actively harm Indigenous communities and slanders any progress in environmental policies for being an “economic threat”, which is fake news.    

The thing is, policies that are bipartisan tend to stick. Benji Backer is a Republican who started the American Conservation Coalition, an organization that aims to engage Republicans in environmental conversations. He explains that some Republican policymakers do not want to support environmental bills because left of center groups like The Sierra Club wouldn’t support them, and their own constituents wouldn’t re-elect them if they started to share Democratic values. 

While the conversations are beginning to change, we are running out of time to cut our emissions in half by 2030

This year is a climate election, meaning we are fighting for our future that has already arrived, our right to live, our access to clean air and water. On one hand, we could re-elect Trump, who will actively harm our planet, and on the other, we could elect Biden who will start us on the right path.