August 1, 2016

NYT: Climate Change Divide Bursts to Forefront in Presidential Campaign

WASHINGTON — During the 2012 race for president, the issue of climate change was nearly invisible. President Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, almost never spoke about it, and it did not come up during their debates. There was far more talk of ramping up oil and gas production than cutting emissions.

But this year, as Hillary Clinton thrusts climate change to the heart of her campaign, the issue is taking on a prominence it has never before had in a presidential general election.

In speeches, Mrs. Clinton regularly highlights her plan to combat global warming, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, praised her at the Democratic National Convention last week for putting it at “the center” of her foreign policy. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, her main rival in the primaries, spoke of the issue forcefully, saying that “this election is about climate change.” The party platform calls for a price — essentially a tax — on carbon pollution.

Mrs. Clinton’s opponent in the November election, Donald J. Trump, has gone further than any other Republican presidential nominee in opposing climate change policy. He often mocks the established science of human-caused climate change and dismisses it as a hoax. The Republican platform calls climate change policy “the triumph of extremism over common sense.”

The divide between the two parties over the issue is the widest it has been in the decades since it emerged as a public policy matter. That is all the more remarkable given that during the 2008 election, the Democratic and Republican positions on climate change were almost identical.

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