Russell Greene: US Democratic Party platform recognises the climate emergency


demo-party-platfo-cover200In Orlando, USA, on 9 July 2016, the platform committee of the Democratic Party added language into their platform acknowledging the official position of the Democratic Party to be that we are in a global climate emergency.

Russell Greene wrote:

The platform acknowledges the scale of the threat to be so large that it will require a leadership response from our country on the scale of our national mobilization to confront the threat of fascism during World War II. The platform language I offered through an amendment entitled, ‘Global Climate Leadership’, explicitly acknowledges that anything short of that will bring catastrophic consequences to civilization:

“Democrats believe it would be a grave mistake for the United States to wait for another nation to lead the world in combating the global climate emergency. In fact, we must move first in launching a green industrial revolution, because that is the key to getting others to follow; and because it is in our own national interest to do so. Just as America’s greatest generation led the effort to defeat the Axis Powers during World War II, so must our generation now lead a World War II-type national mobilization to save civilization from catastrophic consequences.

We must think beyond Paris. In the first 100 days of the next administration, the President will convene a summit of the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, climate experts, policy experts, activists and indigenous communities to chart a course toward the healthy future we all want for our families and communities.”
Page 45 in The Democratic Party Platform

Adopting this language in our platform is courageous. It is bold. It could be said that with the declaration, the Democratic Party has actually stepped out in front of the climate movement in its articulation of the threat, which it seems worthy to note, is appropriately placed as the closing paragraph of the entire platform.

It is my hope that this offers an entry point – a new beginning perhaps, from which we chart our path forward. 

There are two components of this path forward. One is policy. We spend most of our time debating that. The other is the path of connection; of connecting to and reckoning with the truth of what it is we are facing. To find the courage to explicitly and viscerally connect to the depth of the crisis we find ourselves in as human beings in July of 2016. Until we do that – our policy will be inadequate. 

As Hitler marched, the world felt connected to the threat of the Axis Powers and thus unified in agreement in the urgency and scale of our response.  Our country was  connected in both horror and resolve after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; clear on what was at stake and determined to do everything in its power to fight for our way of life.

Yet everything we live and work for is under siege right now – but we don’t see it. It’s ephemeral. Vague. We relegate the climate emergency to a surprise attack, even though it’s not a surprise.  We are under attack right now, yet we look away, and return to other things – to our daily lives.  And the days pass, and the carbon rises, and the earth heats, and the future holocaust becomes more and more impossible to hold off.  

Our priority must be to stay focused, steadfast, relentless and honest in the pursuit of that clarity.  To use our tremendous capacity to think and to feel — to reckon with the whole truth — with courage. Like a parent fighting for the life of their child, we cannot turn away, we cannot flinch.

Russell Greene speaking to the Democratic Platform Committee members

Our representational government with power checked and balanced through its branches moves slowly.  It’s designed to.  One would have thought though, that in the 30 years since our Congress first began to confront the reality of a warming planet, when in 1986 Senator John Chafee (R-R.I.) and newly elected Senator Al Gore (D-TN) held hearings on the subject of “Ozone Depletion, the Greenhouse Effect, and Climate Change,” at least one branch of our government would have come to reckon with the existential threat of climate change. But it has not. 

And now — we are in an emergency situation. We can no longer pretend that our normal system and timelines of government are adequate to meet the moment. The window for gradualism has closed. We are out of time. Business as usual politics, irresponsible mainstream media coverage and a distracted citizenry will result in catastrophic consequences.  

I expect you just read that last passage and moved immediately beyond it.

It’s too much to hold.  And so we blink – and move on – back to gradualism. Clinging to the false hope that somehow what it is that we always have done will work this time. It’s our own type of denial. No – certainly not denial like the Republican climate deniers – but, nonetheless, a dangerous denial.

We must step inside.  We can and must rise to this moment.  Imagine your children’s lives.  Step inside that.  Become your child – not today – but in 30 or 40 years.  And, as your child – ask yourself — “Mom? Dad? What happened?  Why didn’t you do something?”

Can you step into that?  And, can you stay there? Because if you do – if we do, if we step into that truth, and stay there – we’ll know what to do.  

The Democratic platform now contains language that brings shape to the enormity of the climate crisis, and thanks to Sander’s Policy Director Warren Gunnels, climate leader Bill McKibben, filmmaker Josh Fox and many others begins to point towards policy that we must implement if we are to transition away from fossil fuels and begin to draw down carbon sharply on the path to 100% clean, renewable energy and zero net greenhouse gas emissions.

We got as high up on this particular part of our climb as we could – and we put down a marker. And for that, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Senator Bernie Sanders and the millions of voices of the political revolution. It does not mean it is enough. The policy falls short. But that’s not what party platforms are for. That’s what movements are for.

Now – we must recognize where we are – and climb higher. Much higher. And fast.

We are in an emergency. There is no time for gradualism. We must mobilize.

Russell Greene

Russell Greene is a climate activist from California who helps lead many organizations including Climate Decision 2016, Progressive Democrats of America, Justice Action Mobilzation Network and People Demanding Action.

Russel Greene’s piece was published on 19 July 2016 by Common Dreams and is republished here with permission from the author.



Bernie Sanders’ influence

Climate action leader Bill McKibben was one of five persons that Bernie Sanders appointed to the 15-man committee that was gathered to prepare the Democratic Party’s program platform. They fought hard, and over an extended process they succeeded to add more and more to the text. In addition to this, during the past year, Hillary Clinton has adopted more and more of Bernie Sanders’ position on the climate emergency. A line was drawn, however, at his call for a total ban on fracking. Much because of Bernie Sanders, there has been so much talking about climate change in the Democratic primary, and commentators now believe that climate action – unlike in 2008 and 2012 – will become a central part of the election campaign.

David Braun

David Braun

“Sea level rise is real. Climate science is real. We are here to take action and lead. It is our commandment to be leaders of the future, to look out for the children of the future. Now is our moment.”
David Braun, California, speaking to the Democratic Platform Committee members

Watch the vote

Watch the vote and the emotional speeches in favour of it:

Climate Mobilization Added to Democratic Party Platform!
Russell Greene and David Braun describe the need for a WWII scale climate mobilization, and their amendment is successfully adopted.

Published on on 11 July 2016 by

Josh Fox announces historic climate victory for DNC Platform

“The ‪#‎DNCPlatform‬ now:

– Supports a price on carbon AND methane
– Supports high labor standards in the development of renewable energy
– Supports changing the Clean Power Plan to incentivize renewable energy over fracked gas.
– Requires that new energy infrastructure, like pipelines, must pass the climate test and landowners, communities of color and tribal nations must be consulted.

This is what the ‪#‎ClimateRevolution‬ looks like.”

“Democratic Platform Committee members voted in favor of an historic amendment categorizing climate change as a global emergency requiring a World War II-scale mobilization. It’s our job to keep fighting for policies that will keep fossil fuels in the ground and end the fracking nightmare. It will be up to each of us to keep demanding that those in power — regardless of political party — take the needed steps to seriously address our impending climate crisis.”
Wenonah Hauter, 13 July 2016

“The platform makes for the starkest possible contrast with a party that just nominated Donald Trump — a man who has called climate change a hoax invented by and for the Chinese, who has denied basic reality such as the drought in California, and who has vowed to (try to) scuttle the unanimous agreement by the world’s nations in Paris to take whatever measures are necessary to avert catastrophic warming and keep total warming “well below 2°C.” In contrast, one party in this country has finally embraced the blunt — and scientifically accurate — language of climate hawks as to what those measures actually entail.”
Joe Romm

» ClimateProgress – 22 July 2016:
Democratic Platform Calls For WWII-Scale Mobilization To Solve Climate Crisis

Congressional candidate: “Restore a safe climate”

Florida congressional candidate calls for net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the United States already by 2025

By The Climate Mobilization

In an era of catastrophic gradualism and lethal cowardice, Florida congressional candidate Tim Canova has taken a tremendously courageous stand for climate truth and justice in his call for a World War II-scale mobilization that eliminates net greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and restores a safe climate.

If we are going to have a future, we will need hundreds of principled politicians like Tim Canova for Congress fighting for the national WWII-scale climate mobilization required to save civilization and the natural world.

Tim – a professor of law and pubic finance and longtime populist champion – is running against DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the primaries on August 30th for Florida’s 23rd congressional district.

Like Bernie Sanders, Tim has successfully tapped into voters’ massive dissatisfaction with the status quo, leading an insurgent campaign that has transfixed the country. Going beyond Senator Sanders, Tim has adopted a platform that goes all the way in rising to the historic challenge of the climate emergency. His official climate change platform reads:

“The reality of climate change will demand that we make huge investments in critical infrastructure in the coming years, from reinforcing sea walls and raising streets to protecting our electrical grid and modernizing sewage and water treatment facilities. This is why I have taken the Climate Mobilization Pledge in support of a program on the scale of the World War II mobilization of human, industrial, and financial resources to restore a safe climate. I want the United States to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.”

» Video on of Tim Canova’s call for a WWII-scale climate mobilization

Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental Justice

Page 28-30 in The Democratic Party Platform, 21 July 2016:

“We are committed to getting 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade, with half a billion solar panels installed within four years and enough renewable energy to power every home in the country. We will cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals, and offices through energy efficient improvements; modernize our electric grid; and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.
These efforts will create millions of new jobs and save families and businesses money on their monthly energy bills. We will transform American transportation by reducing oil consumption through cleaner fuels, vehicle electrification increasing the fuel efficiency of cars, boilers, ships, and trucks. We will make new investments in public transportation and build bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure across our urban and suburban areas. Democrats believe the tax code must reflect our commitment to a clean energy future by eliminating special tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel companies as well as defending and extending tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy.

Democrats believe that carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy and help meet our climate goals. Democrats believe that climate change is too important to wait for climate deniers and defeatists in Congress to start listening to science, and support using every tool available to reduce emissions now. Democrats are committed to defending, implementing, and extending smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan, fuel economy standards for automobiles and heavy-duty vehicles, building codes and appliance standards.

We are also committed to expanding clean energy research and development.

Democrats recognize the importance of climate leadership at the local level and know that achieving our national clean energy goals requires an active partnership with states, cities, and rural communities where so much of our country’s energy policy is made. We will ensure that those taking the lead on clean energy and energy efficiency have the tools and resources they need to succeed. The federal government should lead by example, which is why we support taking steps to power the government with 100 percent clean electricity.

Democrats are committed to closing the Halliburton loophole that stripped the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its ability to regulate hydraulic fracturing, and ensuring tough safeguards are in place, including Safe Drinking Water Act provisions, to protect local water supplies. We believe hydraulic fracturing should not take place where states and local communities oppose it. We will reduce methane emissions from all oil and gas production and transportation by at least 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 through common-sense standards for both new and existing sources and by repairing and replacing thousands of miles of leaky pipes. This will both protect our climate and create thousands of good-paying jobs.

We will work to expand access to cost-saving renewable energy by low-income households, create good-paying jobs in communities that have struggled with energy poverty, and oppose efforts by utilities to limit consumer choice or slow clean energy deployment. We will streamline federal permitting to accelerate the construction of new transmission lines to get low-cost renewable energy to market, and incentivize wind, solar, and other renewable energy over the development of new natural gas power plants.

We support President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. As we continue working to reduce carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gas emissions, we must ensure federal actions do not “significantly exacerbate” global warming. We support a comprehensive approach that ensures all federal decisions going forward contribute to solving, not significantly exacerbating, climate change.

Democrats believe that our commitment to meeting the climate challenge must also be reflected in the infrastructure investments we make. We need to make our existing infrastructure safer and cleaner and build the new infrastructure necessary to power our clean energy future. To create good-paying middle class jobs that cannot be outsourced, Democrats support high labor standards in clean energy infrastructure and the right to form or join a union, whether in renewable power or advanced vehicle manufacturing. During the clean energy transition, we will ensure landowners, communities of color, and tribal nations are at the table.”


» The Guardian – 20 August 2016:
Green Party candidate Jill Stein calls for climate state of emergency
“Presidential hopeful points to California wildfires and Louisiana flooding in push for Green New Deal to address both environment and economy”


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