The Guardian reports: After years of watching climate change fail to emerge as a central issue in US presidential elections, environmental activists are warily eyeing a coded message from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair that this might finally become the cycle when the future of the planet gets top billing.
The advocates are not just wondering about voters and their priorities, which a new wave of billionaire backers insist are at a “crossroads”. They are worried about the candidate herself.
Interviews with environmentalists, pollsters, donors and Democratic strategists reveal a deep vein of doubt over Clinton’s political will in committing to the environment, mixed with an eagerness to hear much, much more about specific policies. At the very least, they are waiting to hear her say the words “climate change” on the campaign trail, which alone might be an advantage over Republicans who would reject science in the White House.
Green activists say they are watching whether Clinton moves beyond talking vaguely about the climate – politically safe terrain for any Democratic candidate – to backing strategies that could make a difference but incur a political price, such as imposing new caps on carbon emissions or opposing the Keystone oil pipeline to run from the Canada tar sands to the Gulf Coast.
Bill McKibben, the environmentalist, author and founder of 350.org, said that in her decades in public life, Clinton had not established a strong record on climate issues. He cited her failure to lead the US to a deal at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change conference, and other episodes that have left the former secretary of state not at the forefront of the debate so much as playing catch-up. [Continue reading…]