Green Party of the United States' 2010 Platform on Climate Change

Climate Change - Green Party of the United States

2010 Platform: Ecological Sustainability

The human community is an element of the Earth community, not the other way around. All human endeavors are situated within the dynamics of the biosphere. If we wish to have sustainable institutions and enterprises, they must fit well with the processes of the Earth. The ideology of industrialism, in both capitalist and communist countries, insists that modern society lives on top of nature and should rightly use and despoil the rest of the natural world as we desire - because any loss of the ecosystems is merely an "externality" in economic thought and because any problems can be addressed later by a technological fix. We are now living through the painful consequences of that arrogant, ignorant perspective. Many of our children suffer from accumulations of mercury and other toxins in their neurological systems, environmentally related cancer is on the rise, and our air and water are increasingly polluted. Meanwhile, our ecosystems are being compromised by the spreading presence of genetically engineered organisms.

Our houses and buildings, manufacturing processes, and industrial agriculture were all designed with the assumption of an endless supply of cheap and readily available fossil fuels. Pollution and despoiling the land were not part of the thinking. The Green Party, however, is optimistic about the alternatives that now exist and that could be encouraged through tax policy and the market incentives of fuel efficiency. We also challenge the grip of the oil, automotive, and automobile insurance industries that have managed to block or roll back progress in public mass transit. The gutting of subsidies for the railroads has meant not only fewer passenger routes but also the addition of thousands of large freight trucks on our highways, decreasing public safety and increasing pollution. We are committed to extending the greening of waste management by encouraging the spread of such practices as reduce, return, reuse, and recycle. We strongly oppose the recent attempts to roll back the federal environmental protection laws that safeguard our air, water, and soil.

The health of the life-support systems - the ecosystems on our continent - is of paramount importance. Inherent in the efficient dynamics of those ecosystems is a vital profusion of biodiversity. Therefore, the Greens call for a halt to the destruction of habitats, which are being sacrificed to unqualified economic expansion. We humans have a moral responsibility to all of our relations, many of which are facing extinction because we carelessly and permanently halt their long evolutionary journey.

The Green Party also supports the spread of organic agriculture and the careful tending of our nation's precious remaining topsoil. We support planetary efforts to slow the ever-increasing numbers of humans pressuring the ecosystems, and we especially support the reduction of consumption of the world's raw materials by the industrialized Northern Hemisphere. We are appalled by our country's withdrawal from serious efforts to limit greenhouse gases that are contributing mightily to global climate disruption. The Green Party strongly urges the United States to adopt an actively responsible position in this crisis and to take significant action to address the problem.


Climate Change

Greens want to stop runaway climate change, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions at least 40% by 2020 and 95% by 2050, over 1990 levels.

Climate change is the gravest environmental, social and economic peril that humanity has ever met. Across the world, it is causing vanishing polar ice, melting glaciers, growing deserts, stronger storms, rising oceans, less biodiversity, deepening droughts, as well as more disease, hunger, strife and human misery. It is a tragedy unfolding in slow motion. Greenhouse gases warm the Earth by trapping heat in the atmosphere. Much of that heat is initially absorbed by the ocean, creating roughly a 30-year delay in the impact of that heat at the surface of the planet. Practically speaking, that means that the melting glaciers and expanding deserts of 2009 were the result of greenhouse gases dumped into the atmosphere in the late 1970s, when the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was below 350 parts per million (ppm). To return to a safe level of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere, we must reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases as quickly as possible to levels that existed before 1980, to 350ppm carbon dioxide.

Greens support science-based policies to curb climate change. We have an ambitious plan to make drastic changes quickly to avert global catastrophe. We will expend maximum effort to preserve a planet friendly to life as we know it by curtailing greenhouse gas emissions and actively removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

1. Strong International Climate Treaty

Support a strong international climate treaty under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The United States must do far better than its offer in Copenhagen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4% below 1990 levels. We should support at least a 40% reduction by 2020 and 95% reduction by 2050, over 1990 levels.

2. Economic Policy For A Safer Climate

  • Establish carbon taxes on fossil fuels, to reflect the environmental cost of their extraction and use. Carbon taxes should be applied as far upstream as possible, preferably when possession of the carbon-bearing fuel passes from extraction (for example, coal mine; oil wellhead or tanker; gas wellhead) to the next entity in the supply chain (for example, coal shipper or utility; oil refiner or importer; natural gas pipeline). Offset potential regressivity for lower income individuals by cutting income taxes and/or other approaches. Carbon taxes are better than market-based policies because they lead to more predictable carbon pricing, are more transparent, take effect more quickly, and do not enable profiteering by the financial industry.
  • Eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels, nuclear power, biomass and waste incineration, and biofuels. We must also acknowledge that the bulk of our military budget is, in fact, an indirect subsidy for oil and gas production.
  • Prevent perverse incentives arising from higher carbon prices. By putting an increased price on carbon, all energy sources that do not have the carbon price imposed look relatively more attractive: nuclear power, biomass and biofuels are all in that category. Carbon pricing could easily result in massive deforestation to produce additional biofuels that have suddenly become relatively cheap and economically attractive. In addition to pricing carbon, we must mandate real clean solutions.

3. Repay Our Climate Debt

  • Pay for adaptation to climate change in countries with less responsibility for climate change.
  • Provide a carbon neutral development path for those countries that can no longer be permitted to develop in the same way we did - by burning cheap fossil fuels.

4. More Efficiency And Conservation

  • Adopt energy efficiency standards that reduce energy demand economy-wide by 50% over the next 20-30 years. The U.S. can make massive reductions in its energy use through a combination of conservation and efficiency measures. We don't actually need any additional power. Instead, we can and should reduce our consumption of power.
  • Build an efficient, low cost public transportation system. The best incentive we can provide to live closer to work and reduce the use of private vehicles is to make the alternative inexpensive and convenient to use.
  • Adopt a national zero waste policy. The less we consume and throw away, the less we will need to produce and replace.

5. Clean, Green Energy And Jobs

  • Create an inclusive program to train workers for the new, clean energy economy. Focusing on both the environment and social justice, prioritize the creation of green jobs in communities of color and low income communities.
  • Adopt a clean energy portfolio standard that rapidly replaces our combustion-based power sources with wind, solar, ocean, small-scale hydro, and geothermal power.
  • End the use of nuclear power. Nuclear energy is massively polluting, dangerous, financially risky, expensive and slow to implement. Our money is better spent on wind, solar, geothermal, conservation and small-scale hydroelectric.
  • Stop "dirty clean energy." Many of the "solutions" offered in climate legislation aren't real solutions. Biomass incineration (trees, crops, construction debris and certain types of waste), landfill gas and many types of biofuels will dump massive quantities of toxic pollutants into the air and water, and some of these energy sources produce more greenhouse gas emissions than coal. Natural gas is primarily methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Consequently, when pipeline leakage is considered, the clean-burning characteristics of natural gas can be lost, resulting in a fuel with climate impacts as bad as coal. Biomass and biofuels will also increase deforestation, contributing to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

6. Clean, Green Agriculture

  • Convert U.S farm and ranchland to organic practices. Chemical and industrial agriculture produces 35-50% of climate destabilizing greenhouse gases.
  • Switch to local food production and distribution. Localized, organic food production and distribution reduce fossil fuel usage and enriches soil that that sequesters more carbon dioxide.
  • Reduce methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases by rapidly phasing out confined animal feeding operations, and encouraging a reduction in meat consumption.
Green Party of the United States