HOME          CATEGORIES          OUR TAKE

Our Take: Politicians Stop Short of Full Climate Change Agenda

Jerry Brown, the Governor of California and a climate activist, was nevertheless booed at the COP23 Conference in Bonn last week for not going further, faster, then he already has to reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change. Bill McKibben penned an article in The New Yorker about a disgruntled audience booing Brown who was seen as giving lip service to climate change. McKibben noted that since California “is a big oil-and-gas producer, too—the third largest in the United States—and Brown has so far declined to curtail even fracking and urban drilling, the dirtiest and most dangerous kinds.”

We here at ClimateYou understand that Brown is first and foremost a politician, but a lame duck in a big, diverse state economy little beholden to Big Oil. He could announce policies to speed a “managed decline” of high-carbon power and transportation. If he were to do so in Bonn, he would be cheered. World opinion has turned against fossil fuels, carbon emissions, and climate change. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has championed solar farms, but is criticized for still supporting too many coal plants. Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau faces the same pressures but a more difficult choice. There are more than 173 billion barrels of oil-rich tar sands under the province of Alberta in Western Canada, with Canadian companies eager to mine the high-sulfur oil and send it through pipelines to the US Gulf Coast for refining. If that oil is burned, there is little chance of meeting even the Paris Agreement’s modest target of limiting global warming to 2°C. But can PM Trudeau afford to forego the riches and jobs that would accrue to Canada and its people? Can he just leave all that oil in the ground? Trudeau is a politician, so a full stop is unlikely, but so is a full speed ahead. The fate of the world rests, at least in part, on the paths that politicians like Brown, Trudeau, and Merkel choose (or are forced) to adopt. Some decisions will be made in Bonn. Stay tuned.


Comment on this article

ClimateYou moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (New York time) and can only accept comments written in English.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


More Posts Like This


SCOTUS Poised to Handcuff the EPA

In the wake of reactionary rulings by the Supreme Court that seized a woman’s right to abortion after the Justices had unleashed potentially lethal freedoms to gun owners, one can only shudder at the prospect of the court’s upcoming decision on West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Deep Sea Mining: A Climate Disaster Waiting to Happen

Deep sea mining is a climate story. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. If undersea mining destroys poorly understood ecosystems, the results could be catastrophic for ocean life and the billions of people who depend for their lives and livelihoods on the life forms from large mammals like


Time’s Up. Cities must go Green now Despite Opposition

New Yorkers can rejoice: Chippy, or known formally as the Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE)  is the city’s big but controversial clean energy project that just cleared its final hurdle. It ain’t perfect, but not to build it would convey the message worldwide that trying to wean the

Take action in the fight against climate change