Clinton ‘smart’ not to make climate big issue — top enviro

Source: Hannah Hess, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The head of the World Resources Institute last night applauded Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her cautious, careful rollout of a climate agenda.

“If we’re going to make the progress that we need, the ridiculous politicization of the issue in this country needs to change,” CEO Andrew Steer said during a panel discussion at the group’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

“And if the Clinton campaign had been saying, ‘Let’s put a price on carbon,’ it would have become even more associated with Democrats,” he said, adding that she “has been smart not to make a big issue out of climate.”

Some of the most innovative thinking in the United States today about carbon pricing is being done by some Republican or conservative projects, Steer said, “and that’s what we need to rejoice in.”

Clinton examined an aggressive carbon tax as a central pillar of her campaign, according to unconfirmed emails allegedly hacked from campaign chairman John Podesta’s account and posted online by WikiLeaks (ClimateWire, Oct. 21).

But political concerns led Clinton to sidestep the issue, even when pressed on it by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) during the primary season.

Steer stressed the need to get rid of the “political veneer” around climate change. The left-leaning organization, which he joined in 2012 after serving as the World Bank’s special envoy for climate change, uses research to influence government policies, business strategies and civil society action on the sustainable use of natural resources.

“We need to be much more sophisticated the day after the election in terms of trying to bring some kind of bipartisanship here — even though it’s going to be very difficult,” Steer added.

The panel discussion followed an advance screening of the second season of “Years of Living Dangerously,” an Emmy Award-winning documentary series featuring Hollywood stars discussing the impacts of climate change with experts around the world.

Climate expert Joe Romm, chief science adviser for the show, said the choice between Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, who has said he wants to withdraw from international climate agreements, makes it “obviously … the most important election of our time.”

Romm said the effects of carbon pollution need to take on an elevated importance, so politicians understand there are “single-issue” climate voters.

“It’s when politicians understand not that there’s 60 percent of the public who kind of cares about it; it’s when there’s 5 or 10 percent who this is all they care about,” Romm said.

Confronting the fossil fuel industry with an equally powerful climate lobby ranked as the top priority for panelists Jennifer Morgan, co-executive director of Greenpeace International, and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

Friedman said the “crippling problem for the climate movement” is that it represents the interests of billions of people who have not yet been born “who are going to feel the brunt of this.”

Friedman, who is also a correspondent on the documentary series, suggested politicians need to feel the “pain and wrath” of an active climate lobby.

Friedman also confessed to being “sort of a secret admirer of Greenpeace,” because “you gotta get a little crazy.”