October 22, 2020
Written By: Allie Willison, CX at Blueland
Your vote matters to the planet now more than ever. We’re nearing a critical juncture in the battle against climate change that can help decide the future of our planet for generations to come. Your vote on November 3rd could ultimately help decide how the United States will address climate change, if carbon emissions will be cut, if we’ll move away from our dependence on fossil fuels, and if we will look to the guidelines of the Green New Deal to find common ground. Candidates in races across the country, in local, state, and national elections can have an impact on climate policy this election. So to help you get started, we’ve, we have information on the key races this election and you can learn more about specific candidates in key races here.
Key Climate Issues In The 2020 Election
Outlined in the Paris Climate Accord, carbon emissions must be cut to keep temperatures from rising above the 1.5 degree increase from pre-industrial temperatures. This has been a hot topic in the current presidential race and as we saw in the primaries, many of the Democratic candidates had goals that aligned with the Paris Climate Accord’s proposal, 2050.
Those opposed to the Paris Climate Accord, or in some cases Climate Action in general, focus on the costs of cutting emissions and threats to existing industries.
How do we continue to power the world we’ve built? This question has stirred debate during the election process, as the path to reaching net-zero emissions requires swift change in the way we produce and consume energy. NYT Journalist (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/14/climate/fracking-and-the-election.html) Lisa Friedman said “Reaching a goal of net-zero emissions before 2050, many activists say, is incompatible with new fossil fuel development of any type.” However, both Presidential candidates have spoken in support of fracking, which directly contradict the goals of many environmental activists.
Both Republican and Democrat lawmakers have discussed ending the practice of subsidizing fossil fuels though no action has been taken. Those in favor of ending these subsidies aim to reroute these funds into the clean energy sector to boost job creation.
Additionally, fracking is a current hotbed topic, especially in the past few weeks because it’s an important issue to key swing states. By using high power water pressure, fracking allows energy companies to extract fossil fuels. This is damaging to the environment as it risks both land and water pollution, as well as poses risks to public health (https://www.ehn.org/health-impacts-of-fracking-2634432607.html). Proponents of fracking argue that a straight out ban would cripple existing communities that rely on the industry.
Read more about fracking and the election here (https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-is-fracking-where-trump-and-biden-fall-on-this-campaign-issue-11602178755). Read more about fossil fuel subsidies here (https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-fossil-fuel-subsidies-a-closer-look-at-tax-breaks-and-societal-costs).
The Protection of Public Lands and Waters
Currently, the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service manage more than ¼ of the nation’s land (https://theconversation.com/the-2020-elections-will-determine-which-voices-dominate-public-land-debates-144171). In some of the most important congressional races, the use of these public lands is up for debate. Some states like Alaska and Montana, could face the possibility of their public lands being auctioned off for oil and natural gas extraction, including the possibility to build new pipelines. Additionally, the effect of climate change on the Great Lakes, rivers, and oceans threaten each region individually, from the rising sea levels corroding the eastern coastline to the increase of pollution runoff from the increase in hurricanes, tropical storms, and rainfall sweeping back into our waters.
Those who support the protection of public lands aim to put in place environmental regulations, including the end of fracking on federal lands, as well as ensure all Americans have access to safe and clean water. Those who support deregulation want to see the public lands used for further resource development.
Read more on the threat to public lands here (https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2020/04/28/federal-plans-put-public-lands-across-the-west-at-risk).
As a low-carbon option, some scientists argue that our path to cutting emissions must be paved with nuclear energy (https://e360.yale.edu/features/why-nuclear-power-must-be-part-of-the-energy-solution-environmentalists-climate). Opponents of nuclear energy argue that the safety and environmental risks involved, as well as how to dispose of nuclear waste do not outweigh the benefits. There is also the upfront cost that has caused further concern. Those open to nuclear energy either acknowledge that there needs to be further funding and effort put into researching how to mitigate the above issues or are ready to push ahead with an aggressive timeline to make the US a leader in nuclear energy production.
Learn more about where candidates in key races stand on climate issues here.
How can I Learn More About Climate Issues And How Can I Get Involved In The Election?
There are tons of great resources to help everyone do their part for the planet. The youth have taken the world by storm with the Sunrise Movement (https://www.sunrisemovement.org/). Their work is advocating against climate change as an urgent priority and to support leaders who will vote green. Volunteer with the League of Conservation Voters, Change The Climate 2020 (https://www.changetheclimate2020.com/activist-center/) or with Earth Day Network (https://www.earthday.org/take-action-now/), who can help you help the planet through civic action, community action, or individual action. Talk to others, help educate, and support those who will be sure to fight for our planet over profit in the coming crucial years.