PRIORITY

Climate Change

Governor Hickenlooper’s Bold, Global Plan to Combat Climate Change

We’ll bring the same relentless innovation we used to land on the moon to save our planet…. The first thing we’re going to do is rejoin the Paris climate accord and exceed its goals. We’ll build a green economy that creates jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, while combating generations of climate change. And we will focus on the most efficient ways to address the crisis.

John Hickenlooper, Declaration of presidential candidacy, March 2019

We can no longer ignore the reality of climate change. The federal government has the responsibility to act in order to protect this planet for future generations. 

John Hickenlooper believes climate change is the defining challenge of our time. The planet’s health, our economic well-being, our communities, and our national security are all at risk. It is imperative that we urgently address the climate challenges we face—human lives and livelihoods are at stake. Climate change also presents opportunities. We can re-establish strong and dedicated global leadership on climate change by re-engaging with global partners on the Paris Agreement and lead on agreements that go beyond Paris. We can address the market failures that contribute to the crisis. We can create new jobs in emerging climate-related industries by collaborating with and incentivizing the private sector. And we can become a world leader in the development of climate change technologies. As President, Hickenlooper will lead a scientifically-grounded, focused, inclusive and affordable strategy to address climate change.  

As Denver’s Mayor and Colorado’s Governor, Hickenlooper brought people together to launch clean energy projects and enact pioneering climate change legislation. As a small business owner, he knows that being asked to decide between good jobs and a clean environment is a false choice. As a trained geologist and the only scientist now seeking the presidency, he brings a practical, fact-based understanding of earth science. As president, Hickenlooper will lead an urgent, global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move humanity toward a low-carbon future.

Hickenlooper is running for president to end Donald Trump’s crisis of division. As part of that crisis, Trump is dividing America over the challenge of climate change, rather than uniting the country to address it, and turn the challenge into an opportunity. Trump’s retrogressive policies include withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Agreement and rolling back restrictions on coal-fired power plants. Even as epic storms, floods, and wildfires ravage the nation, Trump denigrates climate science and has proposed an advisory board led by a climate change denier. [1] We have a duty and obligation to reject these troubling and misguided policies and act quickly and decisively to manage and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Hickenlooper has been one of the nation’s top leaders on climate change. He brought the environmental community and the oil and gas industry together to hammer out the country’s first regulations to control methane emissions, which has 25 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide. [2] That regulatory effort – which Hickenlooper got the oil and gas industry to finance – has since become the model for Canada’s efforts to control methane emissions. As mayor and governor, he led the charge on ambitious clean transportation projects, including a new light-rail system in Denver [3] and a major expansion of electric vehicle recharging stations to enable long-distance electric vehicle travel [4].

Hickenlooper would fight climate change the right way. Some other proposals include ideas that distract from addressing climate change directly, including a federal job guarantee for every American. These plans, while well-intentioned, could mean huge costs for American taxpayers, and might trigger a backlash that dooms the fight against climate change. As President, Hickenlooper will reverse Trump’s destructive course and launch a focused, effective, inclusive and sustainable plan that wins public support.

Global leadership toward even bolder climate change goals.

As Governor, Hickenlooper was active in international climate change efforts. He knows this is a global challenge – the US accounts for 15% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions [5] – and therefore the only way to combat climate change is with international cooperation and ambitious American leadership. His plan is unique in that it calls for going further than the Paris Climate Agreement goals and proposes creating new linkages between global climate change goals and a range of America’s foreign and trade policies.

  • On Hickenlooper’s first day as President, he will begin the process of rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Although achieving the Paris targets will help a great deal, it is not enough. Even if all countries meet their targets, it will not hold the rise in global temperature to the “well below 2 degrees Celsius” goal set in the Paris Agreement. [6] Accordingly, Hickenlooper will build momentum, trust and collaboration with our global partners. He will do this in part by committing to mobilizing, together with other developed nations, $100 billion each year in climate financing for developing countries, a key commitment under the Paris Agreement. This renewed pledge will be in plain contrast to the misguided policies of the Trump Administration, which reneged on American commitments to the world’s leading climate finance mobilization arm, the Green Climate Fund, and other key initiatives. [7] In addition, President Hickenlooper will ensure the US ratifies the Kigali Amendment before leading an initiative to accelerate the implementation of this critical agreement, which requires countries to freeze and then phase out dangerous hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). [8}
  • As part of a new policy of “open and fair trade,” Hickenlooper will require that greenhouse gas emissions goals to combat global warming are set and enforced as part of any new US trade agreement. [9]
  • In order to bring the full weight of America’s global leadership to bear on this challenge, Hickenlooper will also condition certain US foreign aid and foreign military assistance on cooperation on climate change efforts by recipient countries.

A market-based and job-creating clean energy plan for America.

Hickenlooper will also launch an ambitious effort to move the US to a clean energy future, with particular reliance on market- based and inclusive job-creating initiatives. These include:

  • Hickenlooper’s infrastructure plan will include targeted spending on clean energy and climate change-related projects, including adaptation and mitigation. This includes $200 billion for investments to revolutionize America’s transportation system, invest in renewable energy sources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, plus $150 billion to make America’s electric grid more reliable, secure, efficient and resilient.
  • Hickenlooper’s “National Strategy for a Working America” will focus on creating millions of green jobs, as the country moves to a low-carbon future. This builds on his record as Governor: During his tenure, the number of clean energy jobs more than doubled to around 62,000. [10] [11] As in Colorado, Hickenlooper will work cooperatively with the private sector, which has a crucial role to play in achieving climate change goals. Hickenlooper strongly supports the view, put forward at the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference, that the private sector “should no longer be viewed solely as greenhouse gas emissions culprits, but more as indispensable partners for climate action.” [12] As President, Hickenlooper will ensure focused, cross-industry engagement by incentivizing public- private partnerships that address current market failures and break down barriers to innovation. For example, Hickenlooper will restore the funding that the Trump Administration withdrew from successful public-private partnerships. US and international support for critical public-private partnerships will drive additional private investment in climate change solutions. He will also engage the outdoor recreation industry, which has a tremendous stake in the health of the environment both within the US and globally.
  • We must unleash market forces to help solve the emissions challenge. Hickenlooper will implement a carbon tax, which experts agree [13] will create the necessary market incentives to quickly and cost-effectively lower carbon emissions, while also promoting US economic growth. He will also immediately reinstate the Obama Administration’s Social Cost of Carbon (SCC), which assigns a dollar value to each ton of harmful emissions. Simultaneously, Hickenlooper will launch a review, based on the latest scientific and economic understanding, to update the SCC. The revenue generated from the new tax will be returned directly to American taxpayers, more than offsetting any increase in energy costs. To ensure that US firms remain competitive internationally, Hickenlooper will create a carbon border adjustment system. This system will ensure that energy- efficient US firms are more competitive than their global counterparts, and it will also strongly encourage other countries to develop their own carbon pricing systems.
  • As part of his plan for controlling greenhouse gas emissions, Hickenlooper will use the methane regulations he enacted as Governor as the model for a nation-wide program to limit these potent greenhouse gases. He will also support crucial research into new solutions to address the challenge.
  • A critical pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is improving the energy efficiency of buildings. As President, Hickenlooper will invest in improving the energy efficiency of buildings across the country by focusing on revising building standards and providing support to local governments and the private sector to meet the new standards. His plan will unlock the potential generated through public-private partnerships and direct engagement with communities. Hickenlooper will also nationally mandate that new construction includes charging stations for electric vehicles.

A science-based, fact-based national call to action.

Hickenlooper is a pragmatist and optimist, who believes the US can achieve aspirational goals when the country is mobilized around a well- defined mission. Just as an earlier generation of leaders galvanized the country around the goal of taking Americans to the moon, Hickenlooper will rally the country to the goal of saving the planet.

  • Hickenlooper will ensure that the country’s climate change efforts are always based on the best-available data and the foundation of scientific consensus. He will expand federal budgets for relevant data-gathering on climate change. He will can develop the necessary workforce skills, including technical know-how on battery storage and renewable energy, that will enable us to address the climate change challenges. Developing these skill sets will also give Americans what they need to find jobs in a growing and dynamic climate economy.
  • Hickenlooper will launch a new Climate Corps Program, challenging a generation of young people to pursue careers that help combat global climate change. Similar to the US space program in the 1960s, this moonshot will help develop innovative solutions and breakthrough technologies we need to address this global challenge. Hickenlooper will create a new set of scholarship and loan forgiveness programs to encourage a new generation of nuclear engineers, renewable energy experts, carbon capture specialists, energy storage scientists, and entrepreneurs who can help to address climate change and make America a global leader in climate technology. His plan will support the economic transformation needed to combat climate change, creating an opportunity for growth and jobs in emerging sectors.
  • Hickenlooper will also begin large-scale investment in government-funded climate technology research, development and demonstration (RD&D) to accelerate innovation. One of the pathways to address carbon emissions is to invest in carbon capture, utilization, and storage technology, the development of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and in energy storage technologies. His plan will include permanently funding the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which has invested $1.5 billion into over 500 projects to increase American innovation in climate technology. ARPA-E, despite criticism from the Trump Administration, has been an incredibly successful program to fund and develop and disperse innovative technologies developed in the US. [14] In fact, independent studies have shown that the budget of ARPA-E should be increased to almost three times its current size to “adequately explore” the many potentially viable projects that have applied for grant funding [15]
  • As a trained scientist, Hickenlooper understands that time is working against humanity on this challenge, and that we may only have one chance to get it right. He believes it would be an historic mistake to make load America’s climate change agenda with provisions that would polarize the issue and limit support. For example, he has criticized the Senate version of the Green New Deal that includes a federal job guarantee for every American, because it would lead to needless tax increases, expansion of the federal government, and reduced chances of enactment.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/27/us/politics/trump-climate-science.html

[2]https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-04/documents/us-ghg-inventory-2019-main-text.pdf

[3]https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/how-denver-leaders-pulled-off-a-public-transit-miracle/425583/  

[4] https://kdvr.com/2018/12/01/33-new-electric-vehicle-charging-stations-coming-to-colorado/

[5] https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

[6] https://www.nrdc.org/stories/paris-climate-agreement-everything-you-need-know

[7]https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/02/us-climate-finance-improves-2019-budget-theres-still-long-way-go

[8]https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/news/kigali-amendment-montreal-protocol-another-global-commitment-stop-climate

[9]https://medium.com/@johnhickenlooper/john-hickenlooper-national-strategy-for-a-working-america-ad9acae25178

[10]https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2010/09/colorado-a-leader-in-the-wind-energy-industry.html

[11] https://cleanjobscount.org/impact-state/

[12] https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/12/1028051

[13] https://www.clcouncil.org/economists-statement/

[14] https://www.nrdc.org/experts/despite-trumps-threat-eliminate-arpa-e-success

[15] https://www.greenbiz.com/article/why-arpa-e-essential-us-energy-innovation

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