There continues to be a sense that while Hillary Clinton does have comprehensive plans for clean energy, she isn’t talking about climate change enough. A good friend of mine expressed concern that she doesn’t really prioritize it. He said “I feel invisible.” Perhaps this reflected a sense that she isn’t really listening and doesn’t really hear how bad it is, how important it is.
The political process and the wrangling can make us all feel invisible. And, certainly, Hillary Clinton has a lot on her plate. Climate sometimes seems to get lost. Without a doubt, moderators are not raising it. Demoralizing, really.
However, while busy addressing Trump, she is still managing to raise climate. Her use of climate as a wedge issue in the first presidential debate was fantastic. Of course, she was busy in that debate making sure Trump was on the defensive in many areas. Seeing climate as one was very gratifying.
But she is also raising climate in ads like the one above and in stump speeches. NPR has analyzed and annotated Clinton’s stump speeches, based on a typical one. This is the speech she regularly gives, with subtle changes for each occasion.
I have excerpted here the portions relevant to climate change:
“We're going to make the biggest investment in new jobs since World War II.
Infrastructure jobs like those here at the port. Our roads, our bridges, our tunnels, our ports, our airports, they need work and there are millions of jobs to be done. And in addition to what you can see, what about our water systems, our sewer systems? We need a new modern electric grid to be able to take in clean, renewable energy that can then move us toward that future we seek.
I have a plan to install a half a billion solar panels by the end of my first term. And enough clean energy to power every home in America by the end of my second term. And I want young people especially to be part of this, to be in science, technology, engineering, manufacturing, creating this future that will determine the quality of your lives and the competitiveness of our economy.
Another threat to our country is climate change. 2015 was the hottest year on record, and the science is clear. It's real. It's wreaking havoc on communities across America. Last week's hurricane was another reminder of the devastation that extreme weather can cause, and I send my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by Hermine. But this is not the last one that's going to hit Florida, given what's happening in the climate. Nobody knows that better than folks right here in Tampa and in the broader region. Sea levels have been rising here about an inch per decade since the 1950s. At the rate we are going, by 2030, which is not that far away, $70 billion of coastal property in this state will be flooding at high tide. And whenever our infrastructure is threatened, so too is our homeland security. The next president will have to work with communities like Tampa's to prepare for future storms.
When I'm in the Oval Office, I'm going to work with local leaders to make smart investments in infrastructure to help protect regions from flooding and other effects of climate change. I'm going to continue to continue to work on the international and national level to try to turn the clock back, to stabilize and reduce emissions even more, to try to gain more time. But we're going to have to begin working immediately on mitigation and resilience and prevention as well.
And what about Donald Trump? Well, he doesn't even believe in climate change. He says it's a hoax invented by the Chinese. And he says, 'You can't get hurt with extreme weather.' Now, this is the same guy who at one of his golf courses in some coastal place has demanded that a seawall be built to protect his golf course from rising tides. So it's all fine if it affects Donald, but if it affects the rest of humanity, he could care less. If it affects people to lose their homes or their businesses that took a lifetime to build, it doesn't matter to him. When it comes to protecting our country against natural disasters and the threat of climate change, once again Donald Trump is totally unfit and unqualified to be our president.”Hillary Clinton has a goal of cutting emissions 80% by 2050. The same goal of 80% by 2050 that Bernie Sanders had. Certainly, her plans do not go far enough. But 80% by 2050 is a strong goal.
Hillary Clinton has policy plans to develop clean energy, to build a new grid to support that clean energy, to ensure that there is climate justice in building resilience to withstand climate impacts and in accessing the opportunities for jobs building a green economy, to support coal communities as they transition to carbon free economics, to increase building efficiency, to electrify our automobile fleet… (Also see David Roberts' great summary of Hillary Clinton's climate policies here.)
Hillary Clinton has created a transition team that includes co-chair Jennifer Granholm, who has long advocated for clean energy challenge grants and is an aggressive advocate for building a green economy. The team also includes Neera Tanden, the president of Center for American Progress (CAP). The same CAP that created and sponsors Think Progress and Climate Progress, with its own Joe Romm. These women answer to John Podesta, founder of CAP and head of Clinton's campaign. (As David Roberts explains, he was a driver for aggressive climate action in the Obama second term.)
And she is talking about climate change, even amidst a busy campaign understandably focusing on the threat that is Donald Trump.
Perhaps we are not invisible; perhaps she is hearing the climate scientists and energy policy experts and climate journalists and activists.
Perhaps it is that we are not hearing her.
I suspect that this might be related to "the gap" described by Ezra Klein:
"Given where both candidates began, there is no doubt that Bernie Sanders proved the more effective talker. His speeches attracted larger audiences, his debate performances led to big gains in the polls, his sound bites went more viral on Facebook.Yet Clinton proved the more effective listener — and, particularly, the more effective coalition builder. On the eve of the California primary, 208 members of Congress had endorsed Clinton, and only eight had endorsed Sanders. 'This was a lot of relationships,' says Verveer. 'She’s been in public life for 30 years. Over those 30 years, she has met a lot of those people, stayed in touch with them, treated them decently, campaigned for them. You can’t do this overnight.'One way of reading the Democratic primary is that it pitted an unusually pure male leadership style against an unusually pure female leadership style. Sanders is a great talker and a poor relationship builder. Clinton is a great relationship builder and a poor talker. In this case — the first time at the presidential level — the female leadership style won."
We in the climate movement are angry at the greed and mendacity of the fossil fuel interests. We are scared and worried for our children's futures. Quite simply, we want to hear outrage from Clinton. And we don't. This leaves many feeling unheard. Feeling "invisible."
But, perhaps we are very much heard. Perhaps she is listening. Perhaps she is developing the right relationships for action. Perhaps we just don't have an ear trained to hear her.