If you want to hear about the future of climate change policies in the United States, don’t bother watching any election coverage because Romney and Obama don’t have much to say. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, has a pretty smart approach to the issue that’s apparently still too controversial for presidential candidates.
“If you’re an American, the best thing you can do is to make it politically unacceptable for people to engage in denial,” he said at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in 2011. “It’s really tragic because we need a debate in America, and in every country, between people who are a little bit to the right and people who are a little bit to the left about what the best way is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. What is the most economical way to do it? What will get more done quicker? These are all things that in any other country would occupy a lot of space on the ideological spectrum from right to left, and we can’t have this conversation because you’ve got to deny it?”
Even better, he discussed his strategy on engaging deniers at the London School of Economics this past July:
“Some people who are climate skeptics are climate skeptics because it’s in their best interest to be,” he said. “They just want to preserve the old energy economy, and there’s not much I can do about that. But what I am trying to do, literally all the time, is to prove that saving the planet is better economics than burning it up. Not 10 or 20 or 50 years from now – now.”
He added that of course, there are people with a different view. “Their view is, ‘Look, this may be good, this may be bad. But God almighty the world is coming apart at the seams economically and we’ve got other fish to fry. We have to deal with other things.’ For those people, you must prove it is good economics to change the way we produce and pursue energy… So what I do to try to overcome the climate skeptics is to figure out how to solve the financing problems, because fundamentally all the financing problems look alike. Whether you’re dealing with clean energy or energy efficiency, the costs are all up-front and the savings are all in the back…”
My biggest question is HOW IS ANY OF THIS PROFOUND? Not that Clinton isn’t totally boss about all this, but shouldn’t this all be common sense? It’s 2012 and there are people who still think worrying about jobs and retirement funds are more important than the ecosystems that allow us to live. Unfortunately there will always be people who try to hold us back, so take a last piece of advice from Bill: “Do something, no matter how small it is.”
Image CC licensed by Center for American Progress Action Fund