New Hampshire: The Issue Is Climate

by John Deans

February 5, 2016

As the primary hype crescendos, Hillary Clinton is feeling the impact of climate activists' message.

New Hampshire Presidential Primary Activities

Clean energy activists in Durham at the site of the New Hampshire primary.

©Andrew Lichtenstein/Greenpeace

Before I could even read the signs, I could hear the chants.

“Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Fossil Fuels Have Got to Go!”

“Keep it In The Ground!”

It was clear: the issue getting activists out to this primary was climate change.

At the entrance to the debate venue, a crowd of a few hundred people, mostly students, held signs for their favorite candidate. In the middle of the pack was a strong contingent of climate voters holding signs calling for candidates to keep fossil fuels in the ground, grow clean energy 50 percent by 2030, and stop fossil fuel subsidies.

They were the loudest, and cheered for two hours as debate attendees trickled in and the candidate motorcades whipped in with lights a-blazing.

I got a chance to talk to someone who has been through all this before, former Vermont Governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean. He agrees that climate change is both a huge political issue and something that will be key to President Obama’s legacy.

Activists in New Hampshire have been dogging all the presidential candidates for months now, and their work is paying off. Especially after the last few days, we have seen growth in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s stance on federal fossil fuel leasing. 350 action has been chronicling this evolution.

Most of her statements have been in line with what President Obama has already done or said, but after the debate last night she was pressed again. This time, she seemed to forecast President Obama’s direction by saying, “That’s where the president is going: no future extraction, I agree with that.

Seeking clarity on that statement, she was asked again today about her stance on fossil fuel extraction, and this time she came out with a bold new platform: supporting a moratorium on federal fossil fuel leasing. I suggest watching this video with the sound on:

With days left until the New Hampshire primary, I hope we see even more clarification from the candidates. Stay tuned, maybe we’ll even spot the rarest of sights: a Republican candidate who acknowledges the reality of human-caused climate change and the need to take action to avoid its worst effects.

John Deans

By John Deans

As a former Arctic Campaigner, John worked with lawmakers, coalition partners, activists, and the media in Greenpeace's efforts to protect the Arctic from the dangers of industrial activity.

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