Democrats must go to war with fossil fuel industry to take on the climate crisis

(The Guardian, 6 Sep 2019) Any climate plan that doesn’t challenge the gargantuan power of the industry head-on is flatly denying several realities about our energy system.

Nearly every candidate that participated in CNN’s seven-hour climate town hall agreed that we need to invest trillions of dollars in building a clean energy economy fit for the 21st century, and create hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs in the process. However impressive these commitments are, they won’t be worth much if they don’t also take on the fossil fuel industry.

There was plenty of common ground to be found on Wednesday night, where candidates happily focused more on presenting their own visions than tearing down those of their opponents. On what to do with dirty energy companies, though, the differences couldn’t be starker.

As the Intercept’s Akela Lacy reported shortly before the debate, Joe Biden today is scheduled to attend a $2,800-a-head fundraiser hosted by Andrew Goldman, the co-founder of a company that specializes in opening up new markets for natural gas. Asked about that fact, Biden and his team went on the defense: technically Goldman is not involved in the day-to-day management of the company, and as such Biden fundraising off him doesn’t violate the terms of the Fossil Free Pledge activists pressured him to sign several months back, that he won’t take donations from the industry over $200. The Sunrise Movement – which has pressured candidates to take the pledge – has now called on Biden to cancel the event. A few minutes later, after a heated exchange about Goldman, Biden demurred on whether he would ban fracking and talked up the climate legacy of an Obama administration that oversaw the shale boom and the end of the ban on crude oil exports.

Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, has pledged in his plan for a Green New Deal to make the fossil fuel industry enemy No 1, cutting into their business model and holding them accountable for the years they spent spreading misinformation about global warming. Elizabeth Warren rightly called out the fact that focusing on plastic straws and lightbulbs – as last night’s moderators at CNN insisted on doing – distracts from the fact that responsibility for this crisis is concentrated among a small number of corporations; just 90 companies – most of them fossil fuel producers – have been responsible for two-thirds of manmade greenhouse gas emissions since the dawn of the industrial age.

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The Guardian, 6 Sep 2019: Democrats must go to war with fossil fuel industry to take on the climate crisis