U.S. One of Just Four Nations to Block Endorsement of a Landmark Climate Study at a Global Climate Change Conference, and We Are Not in Good Company

Dignitaries and guests are seen gathered for the opening of the Climate Change Conference COP24 in Katowice, Poland on December 3, 2018. The Katowice Climate Conference has been deemed especially important for its role in the finalisation of the practical agreements of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord and the fact that the World Meteorological Association has issued a dire warning on damage caused by climate change since the last conference. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On Saturday, at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, the United States, along with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, acted to block the endorsement of the IPCC's recently released landmark climate change report.

The report notes the urgency of Earth's climate crisis, laying out the imminent impact of rising temperatures as well as guiding policymakers on how to offset the impact.


By this point, the scientific community is virtually unanimous on the need to address climate change and Americans agree that policy changes to slow the impacts are not only sensible, but vital.

For this reason, Americans found it maddening that the United States joined the small chorus of voices refusing to edorse the report, with the State Department saying

"The United States was willing to note the report and express appreciation to the scientists who developed it, but not to welcome it, as that would denote endorsement of the report. As we have made clear in the IPCC and other bodies, the United States has not endorsed the findings of the report."

Many had a problem with the U.S. taking the side of Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Many saw the action as just another facet of an administration that's long combated sensible climate policy in exchange for oil and coal.

Many called out President Donald Trump's unyielding devotion to oil and gas.

The Trump administration's inaction has worsened domestically as well. The President publicly doubted the conclusions reached by 13 agencies of his own government in the Fourth National Climate Change Assessment, which also warned of the urgent need for action lest the United States economy decrease by 10%.

The president's justification didn't inspire much hope:

“You’re going to have to have China, and Japan, and all of Asia, and all of these other countries – you know, [the report] addresses our country. Right now, we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been, and that’s very important to me. But if we’re clean but every other place on Earth is dirty, that’s not so good. So, I want clean air, I want clean water – very important.”

Fortunately, future Democratic lawmakers are gearing up in an effort to save the planet from the President. Incoming Democratic Representative from New York's 14th District, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has made passing sweeping climate change reforms - or a Green New Deal - her top priority, and support for the effort within the House of Representatives is quickly building.

Let's hope that Republican support for these efforts rises before the tides do.

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Across the country, states have instituted stay-at-home orders in an effort to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus that's upended daily life in the United States.

Late last month, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued one of these orders, urging his constituents to only leave their houses for necessary errands, such as getting groceries or filling prescriptions.

There's just one problem: Wisconsin's elections are scheduled for April 7. In addition to the Presidential primaries, Wisconsinites will vote for judicial positions, school board seats, and thousands of other offices.

The Democratic and Republican National Committees took the case to the Supreme Court, with Democrats arguing that the deadline for mailing absentee ballots should be extended by a week, to April 13, in order to facilitate voting from home.

With a Wisconsin Supreme Court Seat up for grabs on Tuesday, Republicans predictably made the case for why as few people as possible should be permitted to vote. It was a continuation of Wisconsin GOP efforts to suppress the vote, which included rejecting a demand from Governor Evers to automatically mail an absentee ballot to every resident.

The Republican majority in United States Supreme Court sided with the RNC and the election in Wisconsin will carry on as scheduled. This is despite Wisconsin being unprepared for the surge in absentee ballot requests, which leapt from a typical 250,000 to over 1.2 million in reaction to the virus. Thousands of these voters won't even receive these ballots until after the election, thereby preventing them from exercising their right to vote.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a blistering dissent to the majority's decision, saying:

"Either [voters] will have to brave the polls, endangering their own and others' safety. Or they will lose their right to vote, through no fault of their own. That is a matter of utmost importance — to the constitutional rights of Wisconsin's citizens, the integrity of the State's election process, and in this most extraordinary time, the health of the Nation."

She was flabbergasted that her more conservative colleagues didn't think a global pandemic and national crisis was enough to justify emergency policies ensuring Wisconsinites their right to vote:

"The Court's suggestion that the current situation is not 'substantially different' from 'an ordinary
election' boggles the mind...Now, under this Court's order, tens of thousands of absentee voters, unlikely to receive their ballots in time to cast them, will be left quite literally without a vote."

A majority of the Supreme Court may not have agreed with Ginsburg, but the court of public opinion was fully on her side.





The Republican efforts indicated to some that the party cares more about maintaining control than preserving lives.




Large crowds are already gathering in Wisconsin to vote.

In a bit of devastating irony, the Supreme Court voted remotely when making its decision.

For more information about the tried and true tactic of GOP voter suppression, check out Uncounted, available here.

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