Are Clean Energy & Other Climate Solutions Next To Be #1 On Democratic Agenda?

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Naturally, public presentations by politicians (including presidents, surprisingly) are carefully planned in order to not only make a stand-alone point or push an individual policy at the present moment. They are also geared toward framing future discussions and building up support for broader and deeper policy action on a topic.

In these political presentations, the sequence with which topics get highlighted is typically of importance, and can provide guidance on where a politician or party is headed.

With that context in mind, here’s a recent presentation from President Obama (“slow jamming the news”) that obviously got a lot more eyeballs than Obama’s typical press conferences get:

The first political point Obama presents (other than the fact that politics can be fun and funny) is the point that the US was in “one of the worst recessions in its history” when Obama took office. This is a rather huge point that seems to have been lost on much of the public (in no small part because of how other politicians and some of the media have talked about the economy). Our economy had been absolutely tanked by the beginning of 2008, and Obama arrived into office in one of the most difficult points in US economic history. If that didn’t make things challenging enough, remember that the GOP elite’s #1 political goal was to make Obama a failure, which essentially meant not helping the country improve as much as possible under Obama. Nonetheless, the US economy is clearly much better off today than it was in 2008. Here’s one indicative chart on the topic of jobs:

Obama jobs


Jobs and the economy are often the #1 thing voters care about, so it’s almost a given that Obama would highlight this topic first.

“The economy” and “jobs” are quite broad terms, though. How was the economy boosted? What kinds of jobs were created? Are these the kinds of jobs that will keep the economy going?

Well, answering those questions is much more than this article is meant to tackle, but an important note is that cleantech jobs have been a very strong focus of the administration, and these careers are expected to be some of the key careers of the 21st century, with several cleantech industries expected to dominate the global economy by 2050. Luckily, the multiple goals of stopping global warming, cutting pollution that prematurely kills people around the country and the world every day, and creating high-quality jobs can all be achieved together via this focus on cleantech. As just one example, as we noted weeks ago, “wind turbine technician” is the fastest-growing job in the United States. Solar is also growing fast, and even oil & gas company Shell has forecasted solar becoming the #1 energy source by the end of the century.

Despite a relatively strong cleantech focus compared to previous administrations, global warming action and cleantech growth were slightly behind healthcare on Obama’s agenda at a critical time in his presidency, and that led to much less climate action than many think was needed and politically possible.

But if you read a lot into this The Tonight Show skit, it seems that clean energy and climate solutions are now the #1 sector Obama is focusing on. This is the first sector of the economy Obama highlighted in the skit. Could this be a preview of the Democratic Party’s next key focus?

Obviously, Obama is headed out of the White House before long, and it’s not his decision what the #1 focus becomes, but he still has a tremendous amount of influence on the matter, and this seems to be a demonstration of his push for the party’s future focus — or I am just being hopeful. 😀

He highlighted in the song the need to “ensure the health of our planet for future generations,” a surprisingly hippie-like statement from the president.

He could just be highlighting his achievements, right? Well, like I said at the top, it’s definitely not that simple. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act was Obama’s most obvious achievement, and it is what he prioritized over a strong climate bill, but he left his comments on that for after the climate and clean energy comments.

Trying to connect some dots, how does this related to Hillary Clinton and her likely plans if she becomes president, and to Bernie Sanders and his much bigger influence on Congress after the presidential primaries?

Well, Clinton’s campaign chairman is John Podesta, who happens to be the former president and now Chair and Counselor of the Center for American Progress. While the Center for American Progress has supported Obama’s clean energy actions, its media arm, Think Progress, heavily criticized Obama’s lack of climate action (that he prioritized healthcare over it) while Podesta was president — see this storythis story, and this story. (Though, it’s unclear how much of a hand Podesta had in that, as leading climate blogger Joe Romm seemed to have complete editorial freedom.)

When it comes to Bernie Sanders, he has been one of the most vocal and adamant climate hawks in Congress, so you can be pretty sure he is going to prioritize climate action in his efforts to move the country in a more progressive direction — even if he doesn’t do so ahead of financial reform and corruption, which many of us would say is important for climate action as well since so much of the inaction comes from corruption in politics.

There is a lot of speculation here, but I am hopeful that clean energy and climate solutions could be the next #1 sector focus of the Democratic Party.

If that’s the case, of course, it sure would be nice to get a lot more Democrats serving in Congress under President Hillary Clinton… and/or to have a lot more brave, compassionate, morally convicted Republicans break ranks with party leadership and work for strong climate action.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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