Foreign Policy Blogs

Presidential Candidates , December Edition

As we come down to decision time for the caucus voters in Iowa (January 3), the primary voters in New Hampshire (January 8), and big contests to follow later in the month in Michigan, South Carolina and Florida, it's crucial to remember that the next President of the United States is going to have a lot of work to do on climate change.  Come November of 2008 and the election itself, this issue will be top tier. 

As of now, though, it's not.  Here's a story from the "Financial Times" today that contends that voters are concerned about climate change but that the presidential candidates are lagging.  Clearly, the Democrats have been playing the issue up much harder than the Republicans, as they know their target caucus and primary voters actually know about and care about the issue.  The Republicans, in my opinion, all want to skirt this because it's an "Al Gore" issue and he's the Devil when it comes to their more conservative constituencies.  In fact the specter of Al Gore, and any issue that is identified with him, as climate change so clearly is, serves these candidates better as an object of ridicule.  Or, at best, indifference.  (See also, If You Don't Like Al Gore, Then from the spring.) 

I sketched the candidates' positions way back in April at Presidential Candidates.  The national League of Conservation Voters has launched a focused initiative:  The Heat is On , 2008.  The LCV has also compiled "Presidential Profiles" here.  LCV has a third resource here:  their voter guide.  So these good, nonpartisan folks have got the issue well covered. 

To return to how serious the candidates are taking the issue, "Grist" sponsored a forum in November and only Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich showed up.  All the candidates were invited.  You can find video, a transcript, and links to interviews and campaign websites for all the candidates here. 

Other sources on what the candidates are saying include this from the "NY Times," this from CBS News, and this from the Council on Foreign Relations. 



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change