Five takeaways from Amy Klobuchar's Climate Crisis Town Hall

The Minnesota Senator vowed to make climate a "top priority"

Lindsey Peterson
September 05, 2019 - 8:42 am

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Minnesota Senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar participated in a CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall Wednesday night, in which each of the 10 candidates was given a platform to discuss how they would handle climate issues.   Here are our 5 key takeaways from Klobuchar's interview with CNN's Erin Burnett.

RELATED: Klobuchar calls climate change a "monumental crisis."

Klobuchar would immediately reenter the Paris climate accord
Donald Trump in June of 2017 said he would remove the United States from the accord, stating that "The Paris accord will undermine economy," and "puts at a permanent disadvantage."  The Paris Agreement's long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, since this would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change.

The truth is, the president can't legally withdraw the U.S. quickly.  The Administration couldn't file paper work until this year, and it takes a year to complete that process, meaning the U.S is still part of the accord until past Election Day 2020 anyway.  

Reentering the agreement is a positive however.  The rest of the world is onboard with these commitments, and many U.S. states and cities (including Minneapolis and St. Paul) have stated they intend to continue to use the agreement to set emmission standards.  Regardless of what the Federal Government is doing, local governments have stayed on that path. 

This comes down to leadership, something the president and so far the senate have been unwilling to do on climate change.  

Klobuchar would bring back the "clean power plan" instituted during Obama's Administration
To address the climate crisis, Senator Klobuchar will bring back the goals established by the Clean Power Plan, which set emissions standards for states with respect to reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.  

Again, this is something the Trump Administration has been willing to rollback, weakening standards his predecessor had put in place. “The CPP would have asked low- and middle-income Americans to bear the costs of the previous administration’s climate plan,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said back in June. “One analysis predicted double-digit electricity price increases in 40 states under the CPP.” 

Just last week, the administration rolled back standards for methane leaks, which is even more potent as a greenhouse gas than Co2.  The EPA suggessted in June that greenehouse gas emissions are "flat or even down". 

That is flat-wrong.  After a few years of decline prior to 2018, emissions are clearly on the rise again driven mainly by the transportation industry.  

Around the planet, both wind and solar power have exploded, and at this point the costs have matched, and in some cases gone lower than traditional fossil fuels.  The EPA's statement that electricity would increase by double-digits is not based on any fact.  Renewable energy continues to grow at incredible rates.  

The commitment to clean power is clearly needed in order to control emmissions, and as Klobuchar said Wednesday night, the administration's move to weaken those is "very dangerous."

Klobuchar would "Take action (legally) without Congress"
There are a few things that the president can do without congressional approvals, no question.  But to really fight climate change in an effective way, it would be crucial for the president, house and senate, to work together on those reforms.  

Currently, the senate has been unwilling to pass progressive climate measures.  Senate Republicans have long posed a roadblock to passing climate policy and that’s not expected to change anytime soon. As a result, Democrats are eying some serious procedural reforms in order to make sure their plans have a shot at advancing.

How that would work is still a bit unknown, but Klobuchar and other Democrats, like Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren who want to eliminate filibusters in order to pass the Green New Deal, hinted at it Wednesday night during the Town Hall.  

Not all Democrats are on board with that plan yet.  

Klobuchar wants to bring back gas mileage standards
As Senator Klobuchar said Wednesday night, "The car companies in the U.S. are ready to meet on this anyway."  The mileage standars put in place during Obama's Administration were meant to reduce emissions, and force the hand of carmakers to improve gas mileage.  

Despite the current administration again trying to weaken those standards, car companies, notably Ford, have decided to move forward anyway with matching California's strict fuel efficiency rules.  Ford said in a statement that it is focused on acting to protect the environment while also protecting the affordability of vehicles. “This agreement with California provides regulatory stability while reducing CO2 more than complying with two different standards,” it said.

While it would appear this is happening anyway, it's crucial that emissions from the transportation industry are reduced and we hold the auto industry to a high standard (a standard it can easily meet).  As noted above, it is the largest contributer to Co2 in the U.S.  Senator Klobuchar has said she intends to restore and strengthen fuel economy standards.

Klobochar wants to make it a "top priorty" to address climate change
You're likely to get a lot of arguments on whether or not climate change is the top priority for voters in 2020.  Gun violence, the economy, trade and tariffs and climate are all part of the discussion, along with other issues of course.  And there are still those (a shrinking minority) that still deny climate is even an issue.  

In Wednesday's Town Hall, Klobuchar said, "I will work on sweeping legislation, with the mayors, with congress, and get that introduced."  As mentioned above, the senate has been a roadblock to that legislation and it's likely to stay that way.  Klobuchar added, "On day seven, you're supposed to rest, but I don't think I will!"  She's right.  Sweeping climate legislation will take a lot of work.  

The Green New Deal is one proposal the Democrats have been pushing for, including Klobuchar.  It seeks to solve the climate crisis by combining quick action to get to net- zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% renewable energy by 2030, a very aggressive timeline and plan that the GOP has pushed back hard on, even saying it would create "a socialist society".  

CNN noted in it's analysis that, "As usual, Senator Amy Klobuchar was the most realistic about making promises that are simply not sustainable."  

While certainly there will be compromise along the way, it's crucial that a strong plan to combat climate change is put in place immediately.  Certainly, President Trump will play to his base during the next year, and will make the continued rollbacks of federal government regulations a big part of his campaign.  

Scientists are saying that we are reaching a crucial point.  No matter who the president is in 2020 and beyond, voters will want climate to be addressed.  Nearly 70% of voters in the U.S., including Republicans, have said we need to take "aggressive action to combat climate change."  Global emmisions and temperatures have risen to the point that drastic action is needed.  

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