Sep 13, 2019

The climate policy cameos in the third Democratic debate

Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The third Democratic primary debate in Houston had little discussion of climate change and energy, but still lent itself to some hot takes.

The big picture: Climate is stitched into the fabric of 2020 now. Beyond the whopping 5 minutes or so of direct discussion, many candidates wove climate into their mini-stump speeches and answers on other topics.

  • Pete Buttigieg hit President Trump for skipping the climate session at the recent G7 meeting as part of a broader foreign policy critique.
  • Joe Biden, in his wide-ranging opening statement, said "I refuse to postpone any longer taking on climate change."

Elizabeth Warren's answer caught my attention. The Massachusetts senator said "we've got to use all the tools" and then went on to say (emphasis added):

  • "One of the tools we need to use are our regulatory tools. I have proposed following [Washington] Governor Inslee, that we, by 2028, cut all carbon emissions from new buildings. By 2030, carbon emissions from cars. And by 2035, all carbon emissions from the manufacture of electricity."
  • But, but, but: All the candidates' plans are a mix of regulations and calls for major new legislation, and achieving those aggressive targets would almost certainly require the latter.

Amy Klobuchar's answer also caught my attention. The Minnesota senator said her background is a plus for confronting the "existential crisis of our time" because ... "I think having someone leading the ticket from the Midwest will allow us to talk about this in a different way and get it done."

On Cory Booker's veganism: The food system is super important to the climate, but come on! They were in Houston, the oil capital of the U.S. Yet there were no questions on fracking — which several candidates want to ban — or on energy more broadly.

  • Why it matters: Energy production and use is by far the biggest carbon emissions source.
  • And the moderators didn't even bother trying to draw out contrasts between the candidates, even though their plans have some real differences.

Go deeper: The takeaways from 2020 Democrats' marathon CNN climate town hall

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Massive companies' green commitments can't save the planet

Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. Photo: Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon unveiled sweeping new energy and climate plans yesterday, and hours later, Google announced its biggest renewable power buys ever.

Why it matters: While the announcements by 2 of the world's biggest companies are stark signs that corporate giants are getting more aggressive about climate change, corporate commitments won't change the underlying trend of global carbon emissions on track to bring warming that blows past the Paris Agreement's temperature goals.

Go deeperArrowSep 20, 2019

Renewable energy will keep rising through 2050, but so will CO2 emissions

Adapted from EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Led by wind and solar, renewable energy will make up nearly 50% of global electricity within the next 30 years, up from today’s 28%, according to new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Yes, but ... The data also finds that carbon dioxide emissions will keep rising over that same time period, underscoring a stubborn, inconvenient fact: To tackle climate change, you need to address the emissions from oil, natural gas and coal, not just rapidly increase renewables.

Go deeper: Climate denial among D.C. policymakers thrives in echo chambers

Jeff Bezos promises Amazon will hit carbon neutrality 10 years early

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos announced Amazon’s Climate Pledge — to hit the Paris climate accord goal of carbon neutrality in 2040, 10 years early — Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Why it matters: More than 1,000 Amazon employees in Seattle plan to walk out Friday as part of the Global Climate Strike, CNBC reports. And over 8,200 have signed an open letter to Bezos to lower Amazon's carbon footprint.

Go deeperArrowSep 19, 2019