Posted 2 years ago on Oct. 24, 2012, 10:15 a.m. EST by WSmith
from Cornelius, OR
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FRONTLINE explores the massive shift in public opinion on climate change.
How Does Climate Change Factor into Decision 2012?
October 23, 2012, 9:33 pm ET by Azmat Khan
Last election season, presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain agreed that climate change was a critical issue demanding urgent attention. Four years later, both candidates Obama and Mitt Romney barely discuss climate change. In fact, the words were never uttered during any of the three presidential debates.
Coral Davenport has been investigating what’s behind the change as the energy and environment correspondent for The National Journal. FRONTLINE spoke with her about the dramatic reversal she’s seen in Congress, and what political options are still on the table for those pushing for action on climate change.
In 2008, Obama campaigned pretty actively around the issue of climate change, proposing a cap-and-trade system that would put a ceiling on carbon dioxide emissions. What’s behind his quieter stance this election?
… In this campaign, the public perception has shifted so much. The Republican Party has shifted so far to the right that it has denied the science at all.
Another reason is the biggest issue in this campaign: the economy and jobs. Republicans have sold climate regulation as something that will hurt jobs, that it will probably increase the price of fossil fuels. So within the Obama campaign there’s a sense that [this is a losing battle].
[Obama] campaigned on this aggressive, detailed [cap-and-trade] plan, and they torpedoed it. It passed the House, just barely, and died in the Senate. And in the midterm elections, Republicans campaigned on cap-and-trade to the point where it became politically toxic. …
Part of Obama’s campaign promise was to pass cap-and-trade and use that money for the government to invest heavily in clean energy research; $150 billion was his campaign pledge.
What ended up happening was that in 2009, soon after Obama was elected, Congress passed the stimulus, with $50 billion … to invest in clean energy. The first big solar company to get funds was Solyndra, which later went bankrupt. And so this campaign promise of clean energy spending became politically toxic, it became something [used] to attac