IssuesCombating Climate Change to Save the Planet

The scientists are virtually unanimous that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world. And, they tell us, if we do not act boldly the situation will only become much worse in years to come in terms of drought, floods, extreme storms and acidification of the oceans. Sadly, we now have a Republican Party that is more concerned about protecting the profits of Exxon, BP and Shell and the coal industry than protecting the planet. While fossil fuel companies are raking in record profits, climate change ravages our planet and our people – all because the wealthiest industry in the history of our planet has bribed politicians into ignoring science.

Policy initiatives

Reclaim our democracy from the billionaire fossil fuel lobby

The fossil fuel industry spends billions and billions of dollars lobbying and buying candidates to block virtually all progress on climate change. At the national level where companies have to report what they spend on lobbying and campaign contributions, the oil companies, coal companies and electric utilities spent a staggering $2.26 billion in federal lobbying since 2009 and another $330 million in federal campaign contributions. Even in Washington, that’s a lot of money.

But that’s just the part we know about. Thanks to the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the fossil fuel industry can pour unlimited amounts of money into the political system without having to disclose how much or where they spend it.

So what does the fossil fuel industry get in exchange for all that money? They get friends who help them keep $135 billion dollars in tax subsidies and corporate welfare over the next decade. They write legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline. They block efforts to move us beyond oil by blocking the development and deployment of clean, sustainable energy.

This makes it harder to take action to fight climate change. But the solutions are possible. Together there is nothing we can’t achieve.

Accelerate a just transition away from fossil fuels

Scientists warn us if we continue burning fossil fuels, we will experience cataclysmic change, in terms of more disease, more hunger, more drought, more famine, rising sea levels, more floods, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances and more human suffering. That means we must leave the vast majority of global reserves of coal, natural gas and oil in the ground.

Invest in clean, sustainable energy

Choosing to lead the clean energy technology revolution to stop the worst effects of climate change means America will remain a worldwide leader in job creation, domestic manufacturing, local community revitalization and clean energy technology development and implementation.

The solar industry is adding workers at a rate nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy. Solar industry employment has grown by 86 percent in the past five years, resulting in nearly 80,000 domestic living-wage jobs.

For every dollar invested in energy efficiency, families and businesses can enjoy up to $4 in energy savings, and for every billion dollars invested in energy efficiency upgrades we can create up to 7,000-8,000 new jobs, roughly ten times as many jobs as we would create from the same investments in coal. Investments in clean energy technologies will also keep jobs in America and prevent harm to the economy by preventing the worst impacts of climate change.

Bernie strongly supports efforts to develop and deploy clean, sustainable energy technologies like energy efficiency, solar, wind and geothermal.

Revolutionize our electric and transportation infrastructure

In the United States, the transportation sector accounts for about 26 percent of carbon pollution emissions. That’s the second largest contribution to our total carbon emissions after the electricity sector, which accounts for about 31 percent.

When we built out our state of the art rail system in the early 1860’s we became global leaders. But now our rail system pales in comparison to Japan, Germany, and even China in terms of our high-speed passenger and cargo rail systems. Bernie will invest in interstate and intercity high-speed rail systems to bring people and commodities to their destinations more efficiently to save time and money.

We must also invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, just as we built an interstate highway system in the 1950s and 1960s. Many customers are interested in moving beyond oil toward an electric car, but the concerns of cost and whether there will be access to a charging station prevent many people from being able to choose this low-carbon option.

Both the transportation and electricity infrastructure must be updated. We still have electric lines and bridges that were built around the time that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. Modernizing the electrical grid helps balance higher amounts of clean energy, decreases outages and improves efficiency.

Bernie believes that infrastructure investments can create jobs and lead to a cleaner future.

Lead the international community to solve climate change and prevent international conflict

Climate change is not just an “environmental issue,” it is also a global national security issue as well. Climate change is an international crisis that threatens vulnerable communities all over the world.

The CIA and the Department of Defense both say that climate change is one of the great security issues facing this planet. As we see more and more drought, as people around the world are unable to grow the food they need to survive, people will migrate for survival. Instability can cause international conflict.

The United States must lead the world by working with China, Russia, India and the rest of the international community to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy. We need a global scale commitment to reduce carbon pollution emissions.

The U.S. needs to lead the international community in the fight against climate change to maintain American economic strength and global security.

The United States has a unique opportunity to lead the international community in innovating strategies to cut climate pollution to avoid the most devastating damage of global climate change, and to adapt to the impacts that we cannot avoid. Our progress in reducing pollution levels over the last ten years has given us the credibility to demand that major developing nations also take bold action. In the past year, we have seen historic new commitments from countries like China and India who are for the first time putting forth their own aggressive climate agendas.


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Read the full plan

Climate Change & Environment

The United States must lead the world in tackling climate change, if we are to make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. We must transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels, and towards energy efficiency and sustainability. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, and we need to greatly accelerate technological progress in wind and solar power generation.

Unless we take bold action to address climate change, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back on this period in history and ask a very simple question: Where were they? Why didn’t the United States of America, the most powerful nation on Earth, lead the international community in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preventing the devastating damage that the scientific community told us would surely come?

As President, Senator Bernie Sanders will:

  1. Introduced the gold standard for climate change legislation with Sen. Barbara Boxer to tax carbon and methane emissions.
  2. Led the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.
  3. Secured $3.2 billion in the economic stimulus package for grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in a program that has funded upgrades for more than 86,000 buildings and installed more than 9,500 solar energy systems.


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Bernie Sanders on People before Polluters

Praise for the Plan

The climate plan released by Senator Bernie Sanders today shows that he has broken free of the corporate and 1% money that has held back climate policy for far too long. Sanders has issued a powerful call for climate justice and decisive action to keep fossil fuels in the ground and support the communities who are suffering from climate and environmental impacts. Greenpeace applauds this ambitious platform and challenges other candidates who are serious about climate change to reject polluter money and raise the level of ambition in their own plans to meet the greatest challenge of our time.

We commend Senator Sanders for proposing this ambitious energy plan. These proposals are rooted in a clear recognition of the fact that the top priorities for a responsible energy policy are cutting dangerous carbon pollution as fast as possible, and providing even further momentum for the booming clean energy economy. We can’t afford to wait a minute longer to tackle the climate crisis, or to ensure that all American families have clean air to breath and clean water to drink.

Bernie's vision of a transformed America is powerful, because it recognizes both the ecological need and the human priority. There's good useful work that we need millions of Americans to do--and he'll make sure its done by the people left out of our economic booms of the past. Even more important than the plan is the credibility of the planner. Bernie has shown with years of committed action that he will not just talk about this stuff on the campaign trail, he will do it in the Oval Office.

For too long frontline communities of color have been an afterthought in our nation’s environmental policies. This platform is an excellent step toward reversing that trend, and making progress to save our planet, climate and communities. Senator Sanders once again demonstrates his understanding of how to work alongside communities of color and low-wealth communities fighting disproportionate pollution by companies like Exxon Mobil. This policy discusses a just transition to a renewable energy economy that ensures no community is left behind as we move towards a fossil free future. And I could not be more pleased to see that it includes the long overdue termination of fossil fuel subsidies, and uses a carbon tax to finance protection of underfunded and under-resourced communities. The plan is not only rooted in common sense, but also in justice. For these reasons and more, Environmental Action enthusiastically endorses Bernie Sanders’ climate change platform.

Two degrees of warming makes ice cream melt — but when it comes to our planet, the effects would be absolutely catastrophic. In the US, rising sea levels due to climate change will displace poorer communities, and we’ve already seen how hurricanes like Katrina devastate disadvantaged coastal neighborhoods. Study after study shows that poor communities and people of color are disproportionately affected by pollution from mountaintop removal, power plants, toxic waste, car smog and a whole host of environmental health hazards. We can fix that — but we need a plan to break our addiction to fossil fuels, and a leader who will accelerate the transition to an economy powered by clean energy sources like solar and wind. This is that plan, and Bernie Sanders is that leader.

Bernie Sanders has just released his campaign plan to create millions of jobs, save tens of thousands of American lives each year, protect working families, deliver justice to communities at the front-lines of poverty and pollution, and deflate violent conflicts driven by wars over oil and gas. In his Climate Change Platform, no one gets left behind and issues of health, work, and security for all people are put first, before corporate interests. He goes further than any other candidate in defining the terms and benefits of transitioning our economy and society away from dangerous and dirty fossil fuels and the problems they cause. Bernie continues to be the transformative candidate and the one most willing to bring everyone along. He is a man of the people and is exactly today who he has always been: the real deal.
The debate is over. The vast majority of the scientific community has spoken. Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and it is already causing devastating harm here in the United States, and to people all around the globe. So what are we going to do about it? We will act boldly to move our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal because we have a moral responsibility to leave our kids a planet that is healthy and habitable.