Environmental groups are taking a step closer to uniting behind Hillary Clinton – but not before they push the Democratic party to adopt a more aggressive agenda for tackling climate change.
On Friday, several top environmental groups and activists will present their official policy recommendations to Democratic National Committee’s party platform drafting committee.
The meeting will seek to bridge the gap between supporters of Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who many said had more aggressive proposals for tackling climate change.
Notably, several high-profile Sanders supporters, including “Gasland” director Josh Fox, actor Mark Ruffalo, and Friends of the Earth Action’s President Erich Pica, will address the party platform committee in a closed-door meeting, according to a schedule of the events provided to Business Insider.
A source familiar with the meeting also said that a representative will attend from from the Democracy Initiative, a progressive activist supergroup that includes the National Education Association, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the Communications Workers of America, and the NAACP, among others.
Despite optimism among environmental activists that climate change would be a more central issue in the 2016 election, many environmental activists groups found themselves embroiled in heated internal debates about whether to back Sanders or Clinton. Some climate groups like FOEA backed Sanders, who was lauded by activists for labeling climate change as the most pressing issues facing the US, while others like the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund supported Clinton despite protests from its members.
Despite Sanders loss in the Democratic presidential primary, his relatively unexpected strength and full-throated support for a number of climate policies has emboldened some environmental groups to push for a more forceful progressive agenda.
In an interview with Business Insider last week, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune noted that while the group is enthusiastically backing Clinton, it still plans to challenge her to take more drastic actions to curb climate change.
“We are going into this eyes wide open. We firmly believe that Hillary Clinton has a very strong environmental platform, and we also accept that we will need to challenge her and push her to go even further,” Brune said. “We’re prepared to do that.”
- REUTERS/Marcus Constantino
Indeed, at the party platform committee meeting on Friday, environmental groups will push for much stronger measures that go further than many of the steps that President Barack Obama has taken to curb the effects of climate change.
Several of FOEA’s proposals were key aspects of the Sanders campaign platform.
FOEA’s suggestions for the party platform include a wide array of goals, including a nationwide ban on hydraulic fracturing, and a tax on Wall Street speculation, both proposals championed by Sanders
According to text of his prepared testimony tomorrow morning, Pica will push the Democratic party to adopt a more aggressive climate agenda than the Obama administration has pursued over the last seven years.
Friends of the Earth appreciates that in previous Democratic Platforms, the party has endorsed the urgency to act on climate change. The problem in previous platforms, however, is that the solutions offered did not match the rhetoric of climate change, let alone the needs for action.
For example, the inclusion of the ‘all of the above energy’ platform in 2012 directly contradicted and worked against solving climate change. And under the Obama Administration, the US’s lack of ambition and global leadership was crystallized in the December 2015 with Paris Climate Accord, which will put the world on a path to 3°C warming, at a time when climate impacts are already being experienced and the climate science is clear that breaching 1.5°C poses an unacceptable risk of crossing irreversible tipping points and further impacting billions of people. While the agreement is perhaps a necessary first step, unless we substantially increase our ambition and leadership, hundreds of million of people around the world will be forced to relocate.
Some other groups that have already lined up for Clinton also pushing the DNC to include proposals aimed at tackling climate change.
A copy of the Sierra Club’s platform proposals obtained by Business Insider advocated ending fracking, rejecting permits for new tar sands drilling projects, and ending fossil fuel extraction on public lands, among a litany of other goals.
The Sierra Club, on behalf of our 2.4 million members and supporters, advocates inclusion into the platform of: A commitment to power America with 100% clean, renewable energy sources like solar and wind; a recognition of the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and under the ocean, especially on our public lands; a pledge to halt the polluterfriendly TransPacific Partnership, given that it would undermine climate and environmental protection, and to build a new model of trade that supports workers, communities, and our environment.