Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said he wants tonight’s presidential debate moderator to ask about climate change.
But, he said, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump should be asked more than whether they believe in the science behind man-made warming.
“I think it should be very simple: Basically, state a position on climate solutions,” Moniz offered as a sample debate question last night during a lecture at American University in Washington, D.C.
Climate change was largely absent from the past two presidential debates, as well as the one debate between the major parties’ vice presidential nominees, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R). The omission has frustrated environmental activists and some energy analysts.
Moniz added that debates that begin without stipulating that climate change is occurring and that humans are the dominant cause are nonstarters.
“One of the statements I made in my confirmation hearing ... was that ‘I didn’t come to D.C. to debate what’s not debatable.’ Let’s debate the real stuff, like how are we going to respond [to climate change], how much, how fast, where, etc. I think that’s where the question should go,” he said.
The Obama administration is wrestling with these questions while the president’a signature domestic climate policy, the Clean Power Plan, remains stalled in the courts.
Moniz touted significant progress in the international arena, with the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change last year and an amendment to the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances cemented over the weekend in Kigali, Rwanda (ClimateWire, Oct. 17). Moniz said the amendment to cut emissions of heat-trapping hydrofluorocarbons would avert up to half a degree Celsius of warming.
Moniz also highlighted Mission Innovation and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition as major accomplishments for the administration. Mission Innovation is an agreement among 20 countries to double their investment in clean energy research and development by 2020. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is a parallel consortium of private investors pledging to advance clean energy technologies into the real world.
However, a cash injection doesn’t guarantee that the world will come up with a breakthrough energy miracle to meet the world’s demands for power without harming the planet, Moniz said. “One more question we should ask is, do we have in the United States the capacity to effectively absorb that increased funding?” he said.
He argued that the success of programs like the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which invests in early-stage energy projects, shows that the United States is ready to put more research dollars to good use.
“We’ve got a lot of capacity left to take advantage of innovation,” he said.
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who introduced Moniz at the lecture, reiterated his suggestion from a column in April that called on the next president to persuade Moniz to keep his job in order to maintain momentum in clean energy and fighting climate change.
Moniz did not answer a direct question about whether he would continue in the next administration.
Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. E&E provides daily coverage of essential energy and environmental news at www.eenews.net. Click here for the original story.