Climate Change Illustrates Contrast in Party Platforms
Democrats call climate change an urgent crisis, Republicans barely mention it
Well, as we’re all aware, 2016 is a presidential election year and the United States’ “noble experiment in democracy” continues.
As are many Americans, I am watching this year’s proceedings with a combination of great interest, deep pride, strange amusement, jaw-dropping disbelief, and, occasionally, abject dismay. And we have at last arrived at our candidates. On one side, Donald Trump. On the other, Hillary Clinton. As several news sources have pointed out, two of the most divisive candidates in U.S. political history.
Obviously, I’m going to tread lightly in these turbulent political waters, and only in the interest of refrigeration! So to try to get beyond the cults of personality and the sound bites, I thought it might be interesting to take a look behind the scenes and examine the parties’ respective platforms. These documents, which are written by the parties’ platform committees and updated every four years, aren’t necessarily policy per se, but the serve as a “Here’s who we are and what we stand for” type of document. The 2016 Democratic Party Platform runs 55 pages; the Republican Platform weighs in at 62 pages.
Both platforms cover a huge variety of topics, but I think the most interesting HVACR-related nugget that I found relates to climate change. Climate change certainly has had (and continues to have) an impact on our industry. In fact, it will surprise absolutely no one in the HVACR world if we see an international agreement reached for a global phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol this October.
So let’s see what the two platforms say about climate change. We’ll start (alphabetically) with the Democrats. The Democratic Platform reads in part:
“Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time. . . . Climate change poses an urgent and severe threat to our national security, and Democrats believe it would be a grave mistake for the United States to wait for another nation to take the lead in combating the global climate emergency. According to the military, climate change is a threat multiplier that is already contributing to new conflicts over resources, catastrophic natural disasters, and the degradation of vital ecosystems across the globe.
“Democrats recognize the catastrophic consequences facing our country, our planet, and civilization . . . We believe the United States must lead in forging a robust global solution to the climate crisis. We are committed to a national mobilization, and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II . . . Our generation must lead the fight against climate change and we applaud President Obama’s leadership in forging the historic Paris climate change agreement. We will not only meet the goals we set in Paris, we will seek to exceed them and push other countries to do the same by slashing carbon pollution and rapidly driving down emissions of potent greenhouse gases like hydrofluorocarbons . . . The best science tells us that without ambitious, immediate action across our economy to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases, all of these impacts will be far worse in the future. We cannot leave our children a planet that has been profoundly damaged.”
From the Republican Party Platform:
“The current Administration’s most recent National Security Strategy reflects the extreme elements in its liberal domestic coalition. It is a budget-constrained blueprint that, if fully implemented, will diminish the capabilities of our Armed Forces . . . the strategy subordinates our national security interests to environmental, energy, and international health issues, and elevates ‘climate change’ to the level of a ‘severe threat’ equivalent to foreign aggression. The word ‘climate,’ in fact, appears in the current President’s strategy more often than Al Qaeda, nuclear proliferation, radical Islam, or weapons of mass destruction.”
That, in the entire 62 page GOP platform, is the only time the words “climate” and “change” appear together.
So, there you have it. We know this is a divisive time in American politics, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example: one party calling a subject “the defining challenge of our time” and warning of crisis-scale damage, the other party barely mentioning it in passing — and even then in quotation marks.
Of course, any Democrat may have 100 reasons other than climate change for voting for his or her party, and any Republican may have just as many for supporting the GOP. But if you’re a fervent believer that something must be done about climate change or, conversely, a fervent believer that the whole thing is either bad science or a hoax, you might want to be aware of the contrast between the two parties.
In either case, enjoy the political theater over the next few months. It should be fascinating. And then vote! As a friend of mine likes to say, “Elections have consequences.” So don’t sit this one out.
In the meantime, share your thoughts on climate change (or, if you prefer, “climate change”) and the parties’ platforms with me at email@example.com.