Hillary Clinton mocks climate sceptics at presidential campaign launch

Democrat hopeful lashes out at sceptics and says she’ll back growth of solar, wind and other green energies

By Ed King

US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton used the opening speech of her campaign to label climate change as “one of the defining threats of our time”.

Economic policy and opportunities for more jobs dominated the 45-minute address, held at New York City’s Roosevelt Island on Saturday.

But Clinton – who steered US climate negotiations during her time as Secretary of State – used her platform to lash out at opponents still committed to trashing climate science.

“They’ll say… I’m not a scientist – well – why don’t they start listening to those who are,” she said to huge cheers from the crowd.

Clinton briefly outlined her vision for the US to be the “clean energy superpower of the 21st century”, citing growth in solar, wind, biofuels and smart grids.

She also said more taxes on the extraction of fossil fuels could protect the environment and help communities explore a more “diverse and sustainable economic future”.

DC polarisation

The split between Democrats and Republicans on global warming appears as wide as ever, with all Grand Old Party (GOP) presidential hopefuls voicing their doubts on US climate policymaking.

Many Republican candidates used the defence of not being an expert when asked about their views on climate change during last year’s mid-term elections.

And the party appears resolutely wedded to its opposition of efforts by the White House to sign up to a UN climate deal and cut domestic emissions.

Earlier this year Republican US Senate leader Mitch McConnell warned countries he would try and obstruct moves by the US to agree any global greenhouse gas cutting plan.

And last week Senator Jim Inhofe – who heads the influential environment committee on Capitol Hill – repeated his claim that climate change is a hoax.

A new State Department funding plan released by House Republicans on June 2 would also wipe out a proposed US $3 billion contribution to the UN’s new Green Climate Fund and offer cash for overseas coal projects.

Bridge-building

Still, efforts are afoot to try and bring the two factions closer on this issue.

Jay Faison, a North Carolina businessman and Republican donor is spending $175 milllion on a campaign to encourage GOP lawmakers to tackle climate change and back clean energy.

And last week Democrat senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Brian Schatz put forward what they said is a carbon tax that would appeal to Republican voters.

The proposed bill would see carbon priced at $45 a tonne, a figure that would steadily rise over time. Cash rebates and corporate tax cuts would help ease the pain it could impose.

“With this bill I’m extending a hand to conservatives everywhere,” said Whitehouse at the launch, held at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

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