Facing the Future
Our biggest crisis regarding the climate emergency is humanity’s massive state of denial that it exists on the scale it does. Yet willingness to recognize the depth of the problem is prerequisite to our solving it. It is a psychological and moral challenge to face the horror of what stands before us over the next ten years should we not act; yet there – in our standing raw before the truth that it confronts us with – lies our only hope for surviving it.
And our environmental crisis is not only climate; it is also water, air, food and soil. Our earth is like a body beginning to experience an all systems breakdown. The glacial ice melt is so extensive that the sheer weight of melted polar water is changing the shape of the earth’s crust.
As president, I will treat the problem holistically. Global warming harms the weather patterns which harms agriculture and animals which harms people’s capacity to live in certain areas which harms the city-to-rural ratio which harms social stability which creates a refugee crisis which all together lead toward untold catastrophe. What is imperative is that we awaken now and take immediate, bold steps to change course.
What is necessary is a full scale climate emergency mobilization effort, not unlike the kind of effort undertaken by the United States during WW2. Without such an effort, the world will begin to see social collapse and mass starvation unprecedented during our lifetime. Climate disruption, if not itself disrupted, is on track to become “civilization-threatening.” Refugee crises, extreme weather events, non-survivable global temperatures making certain places uninhabitable, global food crisis, economic collapse — none of those phrases are hyperbolic. They are warnings.
The United States needs a president who understands that incremental change -even bold incremental change in regards to the climate crisis -is not enough to stave off environmental catastrophe. The American people must be informed of the severity of the problem, and enrolled in a massive national effort to deal with it.
We need policy change but we need more than that; we need a full-on systems change. We need to change the way we think about what’s most important in life. We need to put the health and well-being of our people and our planet before the needs of an outmoded economic system. We must transition from a dirty economy to a clean economy. Period. Full stop.
In this as in so many areas, unwise action has led to the problem and taking wise action now will solve it. There is a growing consensus in America that climate change is an existential emergency. But now our actions must align with our understanding. As President, I would argue, in no uncertain terms, that rapid, man-made climate change and global warming represents a clear and present danger to our people, to our democracy, and to the world at large.
Beginning with the appointment of a world-class environmentalist, the full powers of the executive branch of the U.S. government would be put in service to the effort of protecting our natural environment.
As president, I will do more than direct a mass mobilization of technological efforts necessary to stave off climate catastrophe; I will harness a mass mobilization of the American people. For that will be necessary for us to achieve the kind of buy-in necessary to allow such massive change as is needed, to occur.
This cannot be a Left versus Right, Democrat versus Republican, socialism versus capitalism conversation — it is a survival versus full-scale human destruction conversation, and when the American people awaken to this then the American people will do what it takes to handle the challenge that confronts us. No president will be able to take the steps that are truly necessary, without that buy-in.
In fighting WW2, we were neither Republicans nor Democrats; we were Americans. In staving off climate catastrophe, we are neither Republicans nor Democrats either; we are patriotic Americans and responsible human beings.
The United States and world must take unprecedented action between now and 2030 to actually bring the carbon we put in the atmosphere back into the earth where it came from—to reforest, transform our dirt back to soil on our farms, restore wetlands, peatlands, and increase phytoplankton and fisheries—among other critical measures.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, and the 5th US National Climate Assessment (draft) describe the dire consequences of failing to act to protect our population, our economy, and our world from climate change.
We are already seeing refugees fleeing extreme weather disasters, causing human calamities, unrest, and conflict. However, these reports simultaneously underscore the enormous opportunities for this nation if we lead in developing and adopting innovations.
Most of the debate right now focuses on keeping temperature rises to around 1.5C or 2C, but that is not sustainable, we actually need to reverse warming trends. While shifting away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy sources gets the bulk of our attention in this area—there are numerous approaches we must take, in multiple sectors, to address climate change.
Other critical areas include:
Reducing food waste, promoting a plant rich diet, protecting tropical forests, proper land management, regenerative agriculture and refrigerant management, among others.
Even seemingly unrelated issues like educating women globally and family planning are known to be an important part of the solution.
Under a Williamson administration, we will take a full systems approach, helping to reverse global warming and lead the planet towards long-term sustainability.
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EnergyTransforming our energy sector is of course a critical component. America must step up and be the leader in the clean energy transition, not only to save our planet but to economically revitalize our country. Our continued reliance on fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – is holding back a new, clean energy revolution that will benefit our economy, environment, and collective public health. Furthermore, fossil fuel companies not only pollute our air and water, damage our health and accelerate global warming, they have also polluted our political system for far too long. As a result of energy industry lobbying and campaign contributions, the federal government supports the use of fossil fuels and hands out massive tax breaks and subsidies to companies that are already among the most profitable in the world. U.S. fossil fuel producing companies rake in hundreds of billions in revenue every year, with huge profit margins, yet we still subsidize them by tens of billions of dollars annually. Corruption, both legalized and unvarnished, makes it extremely difficult to take on the power of the energy-producing giants. Until we deal with the issue of money’s powerful influence on our political system, none of this will truly change, which is why campaign finance reform is a central tenet to my governing philosophy.
The Williamson Administration will:Provide a framework for making public investments in renewable energy, environmental justice, sustainable infrastructure and transportation, and a national green jobs program can revitalize our economy and utilize our innovative and human capacity to benefit all our people.
The Williamson Administration will:
- Expand investments to reach 100 percent renewable energy and dramatically reduce CO2 (carbon) emissions by 2035 or earlier.
- Reinstate and expand energy and mileage efficiency investments. Conserving energy and making the most of our resources should not be a partisan issue. It is good for everyone. Our scientists and businesses are ready to help lead these efforts, but strong national leadership is essential.
- Transition away from fossil fuel energy and halt all new fossil fuel projects. We must eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies and transfer those funds into climate investments by the federal government, and invest in wind and solar energy.
- Restart the Clean Power Plan to protect our health and clean air, while rapidly phasing out coal, which is costly, harmful to the air we breathe and to the land and water where it is mined and burned. Create a commission tasked with expediting timelines for shutting down all coal plants.
- Modernize our power grids immediately to pave the way for a dramatic increase in renewable energy sources. The electric power sector should be decarbonized sooner than the rest of the economy – by 2030. Each state will be required to adopt a renewable portfolio standard which would start at the level of renewable electricity supplies in that state to taper up to 100% by 2040. Electricity suppliers would be fined if they fall behind each year’s target.
- Decarbonize all buildings by 2045. All buildings over 25,000 square feet will be fined if they do not reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040, with intervals beginning in 2025. All older buildings would have to be upgraded to higher energy efficiency standards appropriate for that building type, and converted to electric space heating, cooking, and hot water technologies. Zero carbon from new buildings by 2028. The federal government will ensure funding for the retrofitting of older residential homes and will provide subsidies for older commercial buildings to meet green renewable energy standards.
- Decarbonize all federally-owned buildings by 2030.
- Require each industrial corporation to commit to a series of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets phasing down in half by 2030 and to 0% emissions by 2045. Each company will decide for itself how to meet those targets, but would be fined via income tax laws if the annual targets are not met.
- Create a specific heat pump program at DOE to expand the use of existing heat-pump subsidies and invest more money in heat pumps.
- Ban all fracking operations (oil and gas). This will require planning for the workers and communities that will be most impacted by a transition away from fossil fuel extraction, using “just transition” principles.
- Stop the spread of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG). Ban new LNG permits and infrastructure and end the use of long-term LNG projects for diplomatic support.
- Federal data shows that as of 2022 over 3,500 permits for gas and oil drilling on public lands have been issued. This is more than the previous administrations approved number of permits. A Williamson administration will sign an executive order to change the parameters for the Bureau of Land Management’s issuing of permits.
- End all new oil and gas leases in federal lands and waters. Plan the phaseout of existing oil and gas leases on federal lands.
- Further investment in Nuclear Fusion technology as an alternative to meet nuclear energy.
- Ban concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Address emissions and other pollution caused by huge agribusinesses. Massive factory farms not only threaten and destroy the livelihoods of family farmers, but they are the largest producer of the most dangerous greenhouse gasses — methane and nitrous oxide. Research suggests that even if we eliminate all fossil fuel use, we will still exceed our atmosphere’s ability to repair itself due to large agribusiness practices. We must break up these conglomerates, return farming to families instead of factories, and explore every means possible of reducing the impact of animal agriculture on our environment.
- Increase research and development on new technologies. We do not need to wait for this research — adequate technologies are currently available to proceed to strongly mitigate climate change — but it is important for more research in the long-run so that we continue to move to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and reverse global warming, as the situation gets worse and worse.
- The transition to a green economy must be a just one, for there are thousands of American workers who will be transitioning their skills from one energy sector to another. The highest priority will be given to lateral moves wherever possible, enabling workers to repurpose their skills and expertise.
- For those who wish, we will create a program to give 5 years of full pay and benefits to those who have spent their career in the fossil fuel industry. This will include a bridge to retirement for older workers. Establish a new office of ecological restoration at polluted sites to hire fossil fuel industry workers to clean up the sites they worked.
- Ensure that workers currently working in the fossil fuel industries be accepted first in new job training programs for renewable energy industries and the building renovation industry. In addition, we will work with universities, community colleges, and trade schools to develop education programs to help bring in people for the new industries and jobs.
When it comes to transportation, the Williamson Administration will:
- Change the ratio of federal funds for highways to transit to 50:50.
- Phase out the sales of new fossil-fuel vehicles by 2035. By 2050 we will remove fossil fuel burning vehicles from our roads. We may consider an exception for historical vehicles, schools and museums for educational purposes.
- Accelerate the production of Electric Vehicles, invest in charging infrastructure, and continue efforts to maximize fuel efficiency until we can move away from internal combustion engines. All parking spaces on either private or public land would have to have access to electric charging stations by 2035.
- Set standards so that heavy-duty trucks either use electricity or more sustainable bio-fuels by 2035. All diesel vehicles will be retired by 2050.
- Require electrification of all railways by 2040, both passenger and freight.
- Establish a federal high speed rail program at the FTA.
- Triple the budget of the Federal Transit Administration to expand investments in electric bus rapid transit and light rail transit systems with excellent design standards in line with the best systems in the world. Deploy federal transportation funds to fully empower our cities’ public mass transit systems and walkable and bikeable communities.
- Ensure railroad safety to prevent environmental disasters. Mandate two-man crews, reduce maximum car length to 8,500 feet, ban precision-scheduled railroading, ban transport of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) by railroads (reinstating a rule eliminated by President Trump).
When it comes to an economics of decarbonizing the Earth, the Williamson Administration will:
- Put a price on carbon to send a sustained market signal and pay for the external damage done by these fuels.
- Explore the concept of carbon fees being mandatory (not market-based), because many progressives and environmentalists have successfully argued that doing this will help achieve further reductions in emissions AND protect lower income and protect those who have the least protection against climate impacts.
- Explore every means of developing our economy so that it encourages the sequestering of excess carbon currently in the atmosphere, and bringing that carbon back down into the earth.
- Employ every resource to restore our forests and oceans and promote sustainable agricultural and ranching practices.
When it comes to climate justice and preparation, the Williamson Administration will:
- Work with Congress to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency is fully funded, staffed and protected from any corporate assault through the courts or Congress
- Find ways to enhance our resilience to the current effects of extreme weather and hotter temperatures.
- Integrate climate preparedness into the nation’s emergency preparedness, and into our health plans, infrastructure plans, and homeland security plans.
- Ensure Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) for Indigenous peoples in all policies and developments
- Invest $17 Billion in the Global Climate Fund to begin the work of doing our fair share.
- Ensure that the mobilization creates high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages, hire local workers, offer training and advancement opportunities, and guarantee wage and benefit parity for workers affected by the transition.
Addressing U.S. Military PollutionWhen it comes to greenhouse gasses and pollution, the U.S. military is the number one non-state polluter in the world. If the U.S. military were a nation, it would rank among the 25 largest polluters. A Williamson administration will:
- End the loopholes in the Paris and COP agreements that allow the U.S. government to not report military emissions.
- Ensure that the U.S. military meets the same emission’s reduction standards as any other section, which is to cut emissions in half by 2030, and fully by 2045.
- Fully deploy all titles of the Defense Production Act to produce renewable energy, decarbonize key sectors, and expedite climate investments in the private sector.
Addressing national securityAccording to the Department of Defense “climate change is already challenging U.S. national security in concrete ways.”
To address the national security impacts of climate change, a Williamson administration will:
- End our reliance on oil, because it perpetuates our dependence on energy supplies from other countries, particularly in the Middle East.
- Save much of the oil we use through improved efficiency, get the remainder of our energy from renewable energy sources, and consequently save, potentially, trillions of dollars from being wasted on foreign wars.