By: Daniel Zagoren (Correspondent)
As the drastic effects of human impact on the environment are coming into effect, including rising sea-levels and a global increase in atmosphere temperature, the 2020 presidential candidates have made climate change a priority issue in Democratic debates this year.
In mid 2019, Jay Inslee, an environmentalist campaigning in the 2020 presidential election, proposed the idea that the Democratic National Committee should dedicate one of its debates to the climate crisis. Since then, candidates have been introducing ideas on how they plan to resolve the effects of climate change and accomplish the goals that have been set in place by the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is a congressional solution to resolve the effects of climate change, while also solving social economic problems and introducing new environmental jobs.
As the race for presidency continues, candidates across the board are eager to gain as many supporters as they can. A series of student strikes, led by sixteen year-old Swedish activist Greta Thurnburg, have also taken place in many cities across the country and the globe over the past year. By advocating for action against climate change, students think politicians will be able to gain more supporters to help their campaign.
“I think the younger population would definitely feel more persuaded and lean towards a political candidate who supports climate change, but I do not know so much about the older generation because they don’t seem too concerned about it. Definitely college students or people around 18 would,” said Seyon Wijendren, a sophomore at Sharon High School.
One of the most prominent figures in addressing the climate change crisis is Senator Bernie Sanders. Using his own version of the Green New Deal, Sanders hopes to reach 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030. In doing so, he will also try to create 20 million new environmental jobs in a quest to end unemployment.
“Climate change is real, caused by human activity and already devastating our nation and planet. The United States must lead the world in combating climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainability,” said Sanders.
Students at Sharon High say that they, too, think climate change is an issue and should be addressed by candidates in the upcoming debates. “It appears that the effects of climate change are going to take place soon,” said Rishi Shetty, a freshman at Sharon High School. “If we do not act quickly, we won’t be able to change what we caused.” Shetty adds that climate change “is a big deal in society, and it is affecting our ecosystem, which is making people worried.”
Cory Booker, a United States senator from New Jersey, also addresses climate change in his campaign. His plan includes a three trillion dollar investment by 2030 to help fund the change to a 100 percent carbon neutral economy by 2045. He plans on ending the use of fossil fuels and creating millions of well paying jobs.
Booker wants to phase out fracking, which is the process of drilling into the earth with a high-pressure water mixture directed at rocks to release gas that is inside of them. He also supports the use of nuclear power. “Right now, nuclear is more than 50 percent of our non-carbon-causing energy,” said Booker. “People who think that we can get there without nuclear being part of the blend just aren’t looking at the facts.”
“We need to be at zero-carbon electricity by 2030,” said Booker. “That’s 10 years from the time that I will win the presidency of the United States.”
By supporting climate change and the movement towards renewable energy, Daniel Fishman, an 11th grader at Sharon High School, agrees that it would help candidates gain support for their campaign. Fishman says that adressing climate change would gain populatiry for candidates, but “the people who support climate change are more of a younger age, and some are not old enough to vote.”
“Probably, because it shows that a candidate cares about us and the environment and they believe we can make a change,” said Shetty.
Pete Butittigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, also plans to tackle the climate change crisis by implementing numerous plans to introduce new jobs and steer clear of using oil and gas as an energy source.
“We’ve continued to demonstrate our climate values by building LEED-certified fire stations, introducing free electric vehicle charging stations, empowering national service members to improve energy efficiency in low-income neighborhoods, and mentoring other Indiana cities seeking to lead on climate issues,” Buttigieg said.
By 2025, Buttigieg plans on investing over 200 billion dollars over a 10 year period to research and development for clean energy. Buttigieg would also stop oil and gas leases on federal land. He will also use “every executive authority available” to help reduce emissions put out and require resilience in infrastructure.
Climate change has been one of the main topics of this years’ democratic debates. The effects of this issue have become more notable among people with the past years becoming the hottest years on record. Candidates are eager to gain the popularity necessary to ensure them a spot in the final race to presidency and addressing climate change can get candidates the followers necessary to do so.