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The Pivotal Climate-Change Challenge That America Isn't Talking About Nearly Enough

Lew Daly

In the 2016 presidential election, we are approaching a singular and momentous crossroads in our nation’s history. Will we, or will we not, make a serious effort to achieve a low-carbon future for our children and our planet? The fossil fuel magnates and the GOP say no, because we can’t or shouldn’t, but more than 75 percent of Americans want our leaders to take significant steps to fight climate change, according to a poll released in January 2015 by the New York Times, Stanford University, and Resources for the Future. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley are all saying yes, with O’Malley taking the strongest position. Just recently, President Obama upped the stakes by raising the emissions reduction and renewable sourcing targets in the finalized rule of his groundbreaking Clean Power Plan for the states. But we need to be even bolder. We need the energy system equivalent of a war economy, and we need it now, with clean power targets that will mobilize large financial and fiscal resources and rapidly accelerate investment, enterprise, and technology away from business as usual and toward renewable energy sources and a carbon-free economy.