Dear 2020 Democrats, If you want to slow climate change, carbon pricing is a necessity.

Op-ed by Noah Kaufman, USA Today, Sept. 5, 2019

Democratic voters are growing more focused on addressing climate change, but the leading presidential candidates are largely steering clear of a critical tool for cutting emissions: carbon pricing. 

The Democrats leading in the polls are aware of the benefits of putting a price on each ton of carbon dioxide emissions. Bernie Sanders has supported carbon pricing policies in the past, and in the CNN climate town hall on Wednesday, both Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren responded affirmatively when asked about carbon pricing before quickly pivoting to discuss other policies. But none of these candidates mentions carbon pricing in their detailed climate plans. 

It is the Voldemort of Joe Biden’s climate plan, which torturously describes “an enforcement mechanism … based on the principle that polluters must bear the full cost of the carbon pollution” while avoiding the words “carbon pricing.” It is avoided entirely in Warren’s plans.

Carbon pricing is a third rail that candidates should avoid, or so the conventional wisdom holds. In part, it is a branding problem, because the costs of the carbon price are transparent and explicit. Politicians do not like highlighting costs, especially costs labeled as taxes, and fear that by the time they explain that revenues from the carbon price can be used to offset higher household energy expenditures, constituents will have already tuned out. 

Adding fuel to the concerns of politicians are the failures of high-profile attempts to price carbon: the Waxman-Markey proposal that died in the US Senate in 2010, the yellow vest protests in France last year, and recent state-level policies in Washington State and Oregon.   

The political winds are shifting, however, and Democratic voters now overwhelmingly see climate change as a central issue. Earlier this year, a CNN poll found that over 80 percent of Democratic voters say it is "very important" that candidates support aggressive climate policies, a 20 to 30 point jump from 2016

As evidenced by the CNN climate town hall on Wednesday, candidates have received the message. For the first time, all major Democratic presidential candidates are proposing climate plans that stress the need for the complete and rapid decarbonization of the U.S. economy. They are not hiding the massive effort this will entail — each plan contemplates trillions of dollars in spending. Bernie Sanders’ $16 trillion plan eclipsed former candidate Jay Inslee’s $9 trillion plan, which one-upped Beto O’Rourke’s $5 trillion plan. Instead of political liabilities, these high price tags are being touted as badges of honor.

In this new context, viewing carbon prices as politically toxic makes far less sense. With aggressive and costly climate plans already on the table, adding a well-designed carbon price will save Americans money rather than cost them money. That’s because it encourages the most inexpensive options to reduce emissions, as opposed to prescribing where and how emissions reductions must occur.

The focus on failed attempts to price carbon also ignores considerable recent policy successes. In fact, in the few jurisdictions around the world that have climate policy success stories, carbon pricing has played a prominent role. The United Kingdom imposed a significant carbon price on its electricity emissions in 2013, and emissions from power plants have fallen nearly 60 percent since. Here in the United States, California’s economy-wide package of climate policies, with a carbon price at the center, have helped cause emissions to steadily fall in the country’s most populous state. And in Germany, coal use is on pace to fall about 20 percent this year due largely to carbon prices rising from under 10 to nearly 30 euros per ton since early 2018.  

Studies led by Columbia University show that a federal carbon price in the United States would be similarly successful. Any of the seven new proposals to price carbon in the U.S. Congress this year would reduce U.S. emissions well beyond the Obama administration’s 2025 target.

With voters demanding climate solutions, presidential candidates can point to not only emissions targets but also a policy with a proven track record of rapidly reducing emissions. They can promise not only trillions in spending but also an effective and efficient source of revenue for that spending. Instead, most of the leading candidates remain squeamish about carbon pricing. 

It may be telling that nearly all of the younger candidates, like Pete ButtigiegBeto O’Rourke and Cory Booker, have strongly supported a carbon price as part of a broader climate strategy. 

“I know you're not supposed to use the 'T' word when you're in politics, but we might as well call it what it is,” said Buttigieg on Wednesday when he called for a carbon tax. Does Mayor Pete’s approach reflect inexperience or a fresh-eyed assessment of current political realities? 

The danger is we may never find out. If the leading candidates continue to shun carbon pricing due to a blind acceptance of conventional wisdom, they will fail to build support for a policy that may be our best shot for significant emissions reductions.


Noah Kaufman is an economist and research scholar at the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy. 


A new tone from some Republicans on climate change — mostly behind closed doors

POLITICO’s latest Global Translations podcast episode explores whether modest climate legislation could pass as soon as this year.

By Anthony Adragna & Luiza Ch. Savage, POLITICO, Aug. 22, 2019

Republicans are beginning to feel the heat on climate change.

Though a significant bloc of the party continues to deny the basic science of the issue, some senior Republicans are showing a willingness to consider incremental legislation to turbo-charge clean energy research funding, invest in greening buildings, support electric vehicle charging infrastructure and promote energy efficiency.

And a few others are going farther, notably Rep. Francis Rooney, who supports a carbon tax — an idea that hasn’t attracted Republican support since a failed cap-and-trade bill nearly a decade ago.

“I don't understand what it is about people in politics that they seem to be immune from some of these large shifts in opinion out there in the real world. I mean almost all the large-company CEOs are for taking reasonable steps to deal with climate change and sea level rise,” said Rooney, who represents a coastal Florida district and served as an ambassador in the George W. Bush administration.

He credited pressure from corporate leaders as helpful for ultimately setting a price on carbon despite ongoing resistance from many in his party.

And behind closed doors, Republicans are even more candid in acknowledging that action is needed, according to their Democratic colleagues.

“I've had very constructive dinners, meetings, conversations with Republican senators who see the threat of climate change, who agree that we need to take action,” said Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware.

“Since I first got here in 2010, virtually all the Republicans with whom I serve in the Senate have moved from denying that there is any change in our climate occurring, to questioning whether it’s caused by humanity, and then continuing to question whether we have any responsibility to do something about it, and whether we can do something about it without harming our own economy,” said Coons, a moderate who’s seen as one of the Senate’s top dealmakers.

Of course, President Donald Trump continues to fight aggressively to undo Obama-era regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. But other important GOP figures have softened their rhetoric on climate change and begun to embrace modest legislative efforts to combat the problem.

The tonal shift among some Republicans comes as a federal government report last fall warned of hundreds of billions of dollars in annual costs related to climate change by mid-century across every region of the country. And the United Nations last year warned the world must achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century to stave off the worst impacts from climate change.

Amid the overwhelming scientific consensus and growing public demands for actions, some senior Republicans, like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have acknowledged that human activity is driving climate change. Other senior lawmakers have voiced support for more federal funding for clean energy research and other technologies like carbon capture and sequestration. Famed GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who famously pushed Republicans to cast doubt on the science of climate change in the 2000s, pointedly said last month: “I was wrong.”

“In Florida we've got a fairly pro-environmental group — Republican and Democrat,” Rooney said. “It's an existential threat both to the quality of life and to our tourist economy.”

Coons said changing attitudes by corporate leaders concerned about the sustainability of their businesses is driving more climate discussion in Republican politics.

“There’s been a dramatic change in tone from the fossil fuel industry and then more broadly — whether it’s insurance, financial services or consumer-facing companies that are seeing the price they are facing. They are either conveying publicly or privately that their future models for their businesses include a carbon price, or that they have grave concerns about the potential housing market impacts or insurance impacts of steadily increasing storms, wildfires, and tornadoes,” he added.

Those corporate concerns are making themselves heard on Capitol Hill, said Coons.

“We recently had a day where more than 70 CEOs came and lobbied — on a bipartisan basis — members of Congress, and I convened an off-the-record conversation with seven of them and invited a wide range of members. I got a number of Republican House members and senators, and we had a terrific and constructive conversation,” said Coons.

In the House, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) told the podcast, “It is a decidedly different tone than we’ve heard in recent years.”

Blumenauer pointed to effects of climate change on vulnerable states — including melting snowpack in Alaska and disappearing glaciers. “These are things that are seeping into the public consciousness, and I think that [in light of] the sort of the full-throated denial that we heard on the part of so many of my Republican colleagues — that tone is significant, and I think it is reflecting at least in some cases the fact that their citizens that they represent are not going to abide by an approach like that.”

Blumenauer, like many other progressives, has advocated for a Green New Deal to address climate change by rapidly weaning the country off of fossil fuels, which critics have bashed as unworkably expensive and unable to gain bipartisan traction. Supporters of greater federal investment in technological innovation, in contrast, argue it could garner broad support and make a meaningful contribution to reducing U.S. emissions.

Dan Byers, vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, predicted legislative action in coming months. “I will even go out on a limb and maybe predict that you could see a nice package of climate energy innovation-focused legislation be signed by the president later this year,” he told the podcast.

Byers added, “We only spend about $2 billion a year on clean technology, and so we think that that can be dramatically increased so that we can accelerate a lot of these technologies that we see as essentially being the energy economy of tomorrow.”

While Trump has given notice that the U.S. will withdraw from Paris climate agreement — a move slated to take place the day after the 2020 election — Byers said business leaders prefer that the U.S stay in.

“We think it's absolutely important for the U.S. to remain in the Paris climate agreement and at the table in cooperating with other countries. We do think that the Obama administration's pledge was unrealistic, was going to have a negative impact on our economy. And so we'd like to see that revisited to something that can be buttressed by essentially pushing technology growth,” he said.

Back in the Senate, Coons observed that some of the most robust discussions around climate have to date remained behind closed doors.

“We see relatively few Republican members of the Senate and House who are willing to step forward and say, ‘We’ve got to do this, let’s get to it,’” said Coons. “Privately, there are many more who see this as a challenge than publicly are so far saying this.”

Frank Luntz, the GOP’s message master, calls for climate action

By Kate Yoder, Grist, July 25, 2019

Frank Luntz’s up-close encounter with our increasingly wild weather came at 3:15 a.m. one morning, when the GOP master messenger woke up to his phone blaring an emergency evacuation warning. Luntz saw flames outside his bedroom window. The famous pollster’s home in Los Angeles was in the path of the Skirball Fire, one of the many wildfires that destroyed parts of Southern California in December 2017.

Luntz, whose advice helped Republicans hold power for years and also keep their heads in the sand when it comes to climate change, cited the fire as an example of the climate crisis made personal. He’s the same political consultant who convinced conservatives to rebrand the “estate tax” as the “death tax.” He crafted talking points for the Koch brothers and reportedly convinced the Trump administration to talk about “border security” to drum up support for building a border wall.

But the reality of climate change is increasingly too hard to ignore. “The courageous firefighters of L.A., they saved my home, but others aren’t so lucky,” he said as he recounted the tale during a Senate testimony on Thursday. “Rising sea levels, melting ice caps, tornadoes, and hurricanes more ferocious than ever. It is happening.”

Luntz was one of three Republicans invited by Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, to speak to the Special Committee on the Climate Crisis about breaking down partisan barriers and taking action on climate change. “Elected Republicans are mostly awful on climate, but it wasn’t always that way, and it doesn’t have to be that way in the future,” Schatz said in a press release before the hearing, “The Right Thing To Do: Conservatives for Climate Action.”

The hearing came amid signs that Republican voters are increasingly out of step with their elected representatives on climate change. In parts of the country hit hardest by extreme weather, like Florida, Republicans are already changing their tune on environmental policy. According to a survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication last year, 52 percent of Republicans said if there’s a conflict between environmental protection and economic growth, the environment should come first.

Luntz played a role in turning the environment into a partisan battlefield. During President George W. Bush’s first term, his infamous memo warned Republican party leaders that they were losing “the environmental communications battle,” an issue on which Bush was “most vulnerable.” He advised them to emphasize a lack of scientific certainty around climate change and drop “global warming” for the less scary-sounding “climate change.”

Luntz is now offering his messaging services to the cause of climate action. “I’m here before you to say that I was wrong in 2001,” Luntz told the Senate committee. “Just stop using something that I wrote 18 years ago, because it’s not accurate today.”

“That was a lifetime ago,” he said. “I’ve changed.” He promised to help the Democrats on the climate committee, provided that they put “policies ahead of politics” and commit to nonpartisan solutions.

It’s not the first time Luntz has taken up the cause of the environment. Back in 2010, he teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund and laid out advice to persuade Americans take up the cause of clean energy. But that’s not to say he’s a fan of environmentalists, who he’s called “some of the most personally nasty people” and “mean.”

Luntz came to the hearing prepared to share advice for people pushing for action on the climate crisis. He offered a chart of “words to use and words to lose” based on what he’s learned from focus groups:

  • USE: Cleaner, safer, healthier. LOSE: Sustainable/sustainability.

  • USE: Solving climate change. LOSE: Ending global warming.

  • USE: Principles and priorities. LOSE: Values.

  • USE: Reliable technology/energy. LOSE: Ground-breaking/State of the art.

  • USE: New careers. LOSE: New jobs.

  • USE: Peace of mind. LOSE: Security.

  • USE: Consequences. LOSE: Threats/Problems.

  • USE: Working together. LOSE: One world.

Activists often point out that combating the climate crisis will create jobs, but Luntz said they should talk in terms of “careers” instead. “A job is something that you can’t wait to get out of. A career is something that you embrace.”

Another suggestion: Drop “sustainability,” because it rings of the “status quo,” he explained. “What American people really want is something that is cleaner, safer, healthier. What they’re asking for is improvement, not the status quo.”

It’s also important to frame climate action as a “no-regrets strategy,” Luntz said. Legislation would lead to cleaner air, cleaner water, less dependence on foreign fuels, enhanced national security, and more innovation in our economy. “And that’s if the scientists are wrong,” he said. “If the scientists are right, we get all of those things and begin to solve what could be the most catastrophic environmental problem that any of us have ever faced … That’s why it’s the right thing to do.”

Stay away from the complicated science of climate change and personalize the message instead, Luntz advised. “How many of you know of someone who either lost a house because of a hurricane, a tornado, a forest fire?” he turned to ask the audience at the hearing. Many raised their hands.

“If I can give you a solution that will prevent most of that from happening, would you invest in it? … What would you be willing to pay to get that home back, to get that opportunity back, to get that life back? The answer for most people is everything.”

Climate Could Be an Electoral Time Bomb, Republican Strategists Fear

By Lisa Friedman, The New York Times, Aug. 2, 2019

WASHINGTON — When election time comes next year, Will Galloway, a student and Republican youth leader at Clemson University, will look for candidates who are strong on the mainstream conservative causes he cares about most, including gun rights and opposing abortion.

But there is another issue high on his list of urgent concerns that is not on his party’s agenda: climate change.

“Climate change isn’t going to discriminate between red states and blue states, so red-state actors have to start engaging on these issues,” said Mr. Galloway, 19, who is heading into his sophomore year and is chairman of the South Carolina Federation of College Republicans. “But we haven’t been. We’ve completely ceded them to the left.”

While Donald Trump has led the Republican Party far down the road of denying the scientific consensus of human-caused climate change, Mr. Galloway represents a concern among younger Republicans that has caught the attention of Republican strategists.

In conversations with 10 G.O.P. analysts, consultants and activists, all said they were acutely aware of the rising influence of young voters like Mr. Galloway, who in their lifetimes haven’t seen a single month of colder-than-average temperatures globally, and who call climate change a top priority. Those strategists said lawmakers were aware, too, but few were taking action.

“We’re definitely sending a message to younger voters that we don’t care about things that are very important to them,” said Douglas Heye, a former communications director at the Republican National Committee. “This spells certain doom in the long term if there isn’t a plan to admit reality and have legislative prescriptions for it.”

President Trump has set the tone for Republicans by deriding climate change, using White House resources to undermine science and avoiding even uttering the phrase. Outside of a handful of states such as Florida, where addressing climate change has become more bipartisan, analysts said Republican politicians were unlikely to buck Mr. Trump or even to talk about climate change on the campaign trail at all, except perhaps to criticize Democrats for supporting the Green New Deal.

That, several strategists warned, means the party stands to lose voters to Democrats in 2020 and beyond — a prospect they said was particularly worrisome in swing districts that Republicans must win to recapture a majority in the House of Representatives.

The polling bears out Mr. Heye’s prediction of a backlash. Nearly 60 percent of Republicans between the ages of 23 and 38 say that climate change is having an effect on the United States, and 36 percent believe humans are the cause. That’s about double the numbers of Republicans over age 52.

But younger generations are also now outvoting their elders. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, voters under the age of 53 cast 62.5 million votes in the 2018 midterm elections. Those 53 and older, by contrast, were responsible for 60.1 million votes.

“Americans believe climate change is real, and that number goes up every single month,” Frank Luntz, a veteran Republican strategist, told a Congressional panel recently. He also circulated a memo to congressional Republicans in June warning that climate change was “a G.O.P. vulnerability and a G.O.P. opportunity.”

A new Harvard University survey of voters under the age of 30 found that 73 percent of respondents disapproved of Mr. Trump’s approach to climate change (about the same proportion as those who object to his handling of race relations). Half the respondents identified as Republican or independent.

“Here’s another gap between our party and younger voters,” said a recent report by a Republican polling firm, Public Opinion Strategies. Speaking of younger Republicans, the firm concluded that “climate change is their most important issue” and called the numbers “concerning” for the party’s future.

The full effect quite likely will not be felt until after the 2020 election cycle. President Trump’s campaign appears to have identified a strategy for winning re-election that relies on polarizing the electorate on issues like race, immigration and, it seems, climate change. But conservatives said the long term implications of that gambit were worrisome for the future of the party and the planet.

“He gets to set the national platform,” Joseph Majkut, director of climate policy at the Niskanen Center, a center-right research organization, said of Mr. Trump. But, he noted, “Every year that goes by, where people are going about their lives as if greenhouse gas emissions are a matter of very small concern, we make the problem worse for ourselves.”

Mr. Galloway and 45 other young Republicans with the American Conservation Coalition, a group that advocates for conservative environmental policies, brought that message to Washington last month when they lobbied Congress to address greenhouse gas emissions with free-market solutions.

“You can be skeptical of climate change all you want, but young people aren’t, and there’s no way conservatives are going to win elections if we don’t deal with climate change,” said Benjamin Backer, 21, the coalition’s founder and president.

Mr. Backer said he was encouraged by Mr. Trump’s environmental speech on July 8 as well as recent moves among some Republicans in Congress to advance climate policies. But he also said changes were not occurring fast enough to lure his generation of environmentally conscious conservatives.

“There’s a lot of people out there who would probably vote Republican if they knew there was a conservative agenda on climate change,” Mr. Backer said. Instead, he said, “They’re going to go to the Democratic Party, because that’s the only party that’s talking about the environment.”

Mr. Trump’s core supporters say they’re not worried. Standing in the sweltering heat outside East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., last month as he waited for entry into a rally led by the president, Trey Bagley, 25, readily acknowledged climate science. But Mr. Bagley, a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserves wearing a “Trump 2020, Make Liberals Cry Again” shirt said that did not make him a Democrat.

“I completely agree that we’re offending the climate,” Mr. Bagley said. “But the solutions that are being introduced to fix it are going to drive us back into the Dark Ages.”

He’s not alone in that belief. To illustrate that, Alex Flint, executive director of the Alliance for Market Solutions, a conservative nonprofit group that advocates for a carbon tax, hit play on a video of 11 Trump voters around a hotel conference table in Florida discussing climate change. Government can’t be trusted to solve climate change, the focus group agreed. But like Mr. Bagley, they also all agreed that climate change is real.

“Republican orthodoxy is changing,” Mr. Flint said. “You’re safe saying you acknowledge climate change.”

He said climate change is hardly a top-tier topic among even moderate Republicans. But he noted it is a key differential issue in swing districts that can either help a candidate win young, college educated and female voters, or lose them.

“It’s a matter of honesty,” he said. “Voters believe it is happening, at the very least, they want their politicians to acknowledge reality.”

Scott Jennings, a Republican consultant and a former campaign adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said 2020 candidates in different states would take various approaches to climate change, but he predicted that most would focus on simply attacking Democrats and the Green New Deal.

Still, he said, “Someday Republicans are going to have to come up with some proposals that are responsive to these issues and, frankly, be more reasonable and more thoughtful.”

Moody’s Analytics says climate change could cost $69 trillion by 2100

By Steven Mufson, Washington Post, July 3, 2019

The consulting firm Moody’s Analytics says climate change could inflict $69 trillion in damage on the global economy by the year 2100, assuming that warming hits the two-degree Celsius threshold widely seen as the limit to stem its most dire effects.

Moody’s says in a new climate change report that warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, increasingly seen by scientists as a climate-stabilizing limit, would still cause $54 trillion in damages by the end of the century.

The firm warns that passing the two-degree threshold “could hit tipping points for even larger and irreversible warming feedback loops such as permanent summer ice melt in the Arctic Ocean.”

The new report predicts that rising temperatures will “universally hurt worker health and productivity” and that more frequent extreme weather events “will increasingly disrupt and damage critical infrastructure and property.”

Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi said that the report was “the first stab at trying to quantify what the macroeconomic consequences might be” of climate change, written in response to European commercial banks and central banks.

Climate change, Zandi said, is “not a cliff event. It’s not a shock to the economy. It’s more like a corrosive.” But, he added, it’s one that is “getting weightier with each passing year.”

Moody’s Investors Service, a major credit ratings agency, has already said that it wants to take climate into account when weighing the financial health of companies and municipalities.

[More U.S. businesses making changes in response to climate concerns]

The new report highlights the harm done to human health, labor productivity, crop yields and tourism.

It says that “water- and vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever will likely be the largest direct effect of changes in human health and the associated productivity loss.”

The report also says that rising temperatures will allow mosquitoes, ticks and fleas to move to new areas, resulting in more sick days. It would also raise public and private spending on health care.

Labor productivity will take a hit, especially among outdoor workers, including those working in agriculture.

The hardest-hit economies will be some of the fastest-growing ones — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the report says.

The Moody’s Analytics report also forecasts lower oil and natural gas demand, dealing a blow to oil-exporting countries, especially in the Middle East. It forecasts that Saudi GDP will drop more than 10 percent by 2048; the kingdom would be the country harmed the most by climate change, hurting government revenue, Moody’s says.

Although Saudi Arabia has suffered drops in GDP when highly cyclical oil prices sink, Moody’s says that the kingdom would suffer more lasting harm as a result of climate change.

Of the 12 largest economies, India will be the worst hit, the report says, with GDP growing 2.5 percentage points more slowly than it would without the effects of climate change. The country’s service industry will be hit by heat stress, agricultural productivity will fall, and health-care costs will climb.

The firm carried out different scenarios using an international study by the World Bank, taking different locations into account and weighing different economic sectors. It said that rising sea levels would damage coastal real estate, wiping out rental incomes in some areas and thus cutting consumer spending.

But the scenarios only go through 2048. The Moody’s report says “the distress compounds over time and is far more severe in the second half of the century.”

“That’s why it is so hard to get people focused on this issue and get a comprehensive policy response,” Zandi said. “Business is focused on the next year, or five years out.”

He added: “Most of the models go out 30 years, but, really, the damage to the economy is in the next half-century, and we haven’t developed the tools to look out that far.”

Other businesses are peering ahead on climate change, too.

Chubb, one of the biggest insurance firms in the United States, on Monday said it would no longer sell insurance to new coal-fired power plants or sell new policies to companies that derive more than 30 percent of their revenue from the mining of coal used in power plants.

Although more than a dozen leading insurance companies in Europe have already cut off insurance for coal companies, U.S. firms have resisting pressure to take climate change into account.

Chubb’s step was just an initial one. “A major U.S. insurer like Chubb restricting insurance for coal projects and companies is a game-changer,” said Ross Hammond, a senior strategist for the Insure Our Future campaign, which has tried to pressure insurance companies to pull out of the coal market. But Hammond said that the company still needs to stop insuring new coal mines and the oil sands, or tar sands, in northern Alberta.

Lindsey Allen, executive director of Rainforest Action Network, said that “new coal projects cannot be built without insurance, and Chubb just dealt a blow to the dozens of companies that are still betting on the expansion of coal globally.”

Separately, the chief economist of Equinor, the Norwegian oil company previously known as Statoil, has written a report that looks at three scenarios for climate change and its impact on global economies, especially on energy.

Only one of those, the report said, would lead to a sustainable path, but that path comes with enormous challenges. To reach that set of targets by 2050, “almost all use of coal must be eradicated,” oil demand would need to be halved, and natural gas demand trimmed by more than 10 percent. Renewables as well as carbon capture and storage or utilization would have to increase sharply, helped by continuing advances in technology.

“In order to hit 1.5 degrees Celsius, the model to get there is enormously challenging,” said Eirik Waerness, senior vice president and chief economist of Equinor. He said more than half of new cars would have to be electric vehicles by 2030. Electricity demand will double, yet wind and solar would equal the entire current electricity output, a leap from current levels.

The threshold of 1.5 degree Celsius is the target set by most climate scientists for avoiding dire climate change.

Waerness also said that the company currently assumes a carbon price of $55 a ton when considering whether to finance new energy projects. As a result, Equinor has been investing more in projects such as offshore wind, where it can also tap into its experience with offshore platforms and technology.

Joe Biden and other 2020 Democrats give climate change the attention it deserves

USA Today editorial, June 11, 2019

Global warming is now a hot topic for voters, and candidates are taking note

In 2016, the two presidential candidates spent all of five minutes and 27 seconds on climate change during three televised debates. 

Now Democrats seeking the White House in the 2020 election are all but falling over each other with sweeping proposals for recasting the economy by promoting renewable energy, with a goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions nationally by midcentury.

The presidential hopefuls are taking cues from the Green New Deal resolution,  introduced in February by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, which set a high bar for action and urgency.

To be sure, their proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 is an overreach that is further burdened with costly social engineering goals involving guaranteed jobs and health care. But at least they helped elevate climate change to a national debate as people were hurting from record California wildfires, widespread flooding hit the Midwest and the scientific evidence grew increasingly indisputable.

The DNC said no to a climate debate. Some of its members are still trying to make it happen.

Democratic voters are telling pollsters that climate change is one of their top concerns, and nearly half of young adults surveyed call it a "crisis." Candidates are taking note. Detailed action plans sprouted from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee — running as a climate candidate — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke and, last week, former Vice President Joe Biden

The plans contain some important ideas. These including sticking with the Paris Agreement (President Donald Trump would pull Washington out, leaving the United States as an international pariah), pushing ahead with Obama-era fuel economy standards, embracing nuclear power as part of a clean-energy solution, and imposing some kind of price on carbon.

We continue to believe that the best approach would be a refundable national carbon tax that would make renewables and carbon-capture schemes more competitive — and prevent emitters from using the atmosphere as a free waste dump. Ideally, such a tax would be imposed in concert with similar actions by the world's other leading carbon emitters, so no nation would bear a disproportionate burden.

With the United States responsible for 15% of the global carbon pollution, Biden's plan would use U.S. economic pressure to prompt China and other major polluters to rein in their greenhouse gas emissions.

Disappointingly, the Democratic National Committee has scheduled up to 12 debates and refuses to devote even one solely to climate change. Given the importance of the issue, this is a mistake. 

Nonetheless, the contrast between Democratic proposals to address climate change and cricket-chirping silence from the Republican Party is breathtaking. Trump remains willfully, and at times incoherently, ignorant about the threat.

"I believe that there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways," Trump told interviewer Piers Morgan last week, allowing that he was "moved" by the passion Prince Charles displayed for protecting future generations from the impact of a warming planet.

Indeed, members of a new generation will go to the polls in 2020. Right now, only one political party is seriously addressing the threat posed by climate change, and it isn't Trump or the GOP.