Democrats Are United on Climate Change, but Not on What to Do About It
The New York Times sent a climate policy survey to the 2020 Democrats. All of them want to stick to the Paris Agreement. Beyond that, the questions get harder. ...
Among the 18 declared candidates, there is no broad consensus on taxing polluters on their carbon emissions — a measure most experts say is needed to slow global warming. And when it comes to building new nuclear power plants or adding federal regulations, there is even less agreement.
Those divisions were apparent in the candidates’ responses to a new climate policy questionnaire from The New York Times. They unanimously supported remaining in the Paris Agreement and restoring Obama-era policies that Mr. Trump has abandoned. But scientists are clear that preventing catastrophic climate change will require going well beyond those policies.
While the candidates agreed with that assessment, few offered detailed strategies for getting it done. Some have supported the Green New Deal in principle, but that congressional resolution was more a statement of ideals than a plan of action.
After years of hovering toward the bottom of voters’ concerns, climate change is having something of a moment. A poll conducted by environmental groups in early primary states found that 84 percent of likely Democratic voters ranked acting on climate change and moving the United States fully to clean energy as essential or very important.
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New York Times
A climate change solution slowly gains ground
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — At the end of a cul-de-sac called Fresh Way, two bright green structures the size of shipping containers gleam in the warm sunlight, quietly sucking from the air the carbon dioxide that is warming the planet.
One structure houses computer monitors and controls. Atop the other, large fans draw air through slabs made of honeycomb-style ceramic cubes. The cubes hold proprietary chemicals that act like sponges, absorbing carbon dioxide at room temperature. Every 15 minutes, the slabs rotate and the cubes are heated, releasing a stream of 99 percent pure carbon dioxide into a shiny steel pipe.
This is Global Thermostat, one of just three companies at the leading edge of the hunt for ways of skimming carbon dioxide from the air. It is a tiny step, but a hopeful one, toward reducing global warming. Amid a steady drumbeat of grim news about climate change, more and more people are captivated by the idea that a feasible process can help offset decades of damage to the atmosphere. ...
Over the past several years, the firms have vied to make technological progress. The cost of carbon capture has fallen from $600 a ton to as low as $100 a ton — and lower if a cheap or free source of heat or energy is available.
Federal subsidies are just as important. New U.S. federal tax credits provide as much as $50 for every ton of carbon dioxide captured and stored underground in well-sealed geological formations.
Biden's 'middle ground' climate policy is code for 'pro natural gas'
The trial balloon that the Biden campaign floated last week — the one about how he wanted a “middle ground” climate policy — set off the closest thing to a scuffle the Democratic primary field has seen yet, with one rival after another insisting that there was no middle ground to be had, only (as the author and activist Naomi Klein put it) “sinking ground, burning ground, churning ground.”
Still, we may have reason to be thankful to Biden’s team, for it’s possible that they’ve brought into the open the semi-secret internal Democratic debate on climate. It’s not actually about the danger of global warming, which thankfully everyone more or less agrees on. It’s actually about natural gas.
Here’s a short history lesson: President Obama came to office in 2008 with a dead-in-the-water national economy, a commitment to reducing carbon emissions, and a rapidly expanding new technology: fracking for natural gas.
That technology helped restart economic growth, and because when you burn natural gas it gives off less carbon than coal it also seemed to address climate change. It was, in Washington parlance, a win-win, even for the oil companies, who rapidly expanded their shale gas portfolios. Year after year, Obama boasted about the natural gas surge in his State of the Union addresses. Biden has followed right along.
Last week in Iowa he said, “the United States is soon going to be the largest producer of energy of any nation in the world by the end of the 2020s. My Lord, what are we so afraid of?”