Climate Change Activists Ponder Boycotts As Possible Strategy

Kerry Picket | Reporter

Climate change activists are taking a cue from the controversy surrounding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and proposing a strategy that should include punishing states that block cap-and-trade type legislation.

Think Progress, a blog for the liberal Center for American Progress, says the “The next great moral imperative is the fight to preserve a livable climate for our children and future generations,” adding they must “match the state-level success the LGBT community and its allies recently showed in changing a discriminatory Indiana law.”

Just last month, The Chicago Tribune reported that  former Vice President Al Gore told an audience at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival that those in politics who refuse to accept climate change science should be punished.

“We need to put a price on carbon to accelerate these market trends,” Gore said, referring to a proposed federal cap-and-trade system that would penalize companies that exceeded their carbon-emission limits. “And in order to do that, we need to put a price on denial in politics.”

An assistant professor of philosophy at Rochester University goes as far as suggesting it is “criminally negligent” to say “man-made climate change” is not a problem to the environment, while a writer at Gawker believes “climate change deniers” should be arrested.

However, the state boycott method may be the most favorable method of punishment. The announced boycott of state travel to Indiana from states like New York and Connecticut after the Indiana state legislature passed a RFRA bill similar to 20 other states in the union is not a new tactic.

The strategy pits liberal blue states against more conservative red states in the country in an effort to dictate state policy from outside of state lines and worked to gut or shutdown RFRA bills in Indiana and Arkansas, respectively.

Arizona experienced state boycotts in 2010 when its legislature passed SB1070, a bill that would require state law enforcement to ask detained or arrested persons for their legal status.

The federal government filed a lawsuit before the legislation could go into effect and successfully blocked it. At the time, almost a dozen cities and counties refused to do business with Arizona and cost the state $141 million dollars in lost business contracts, cancelled conventions and concerts.

In 2010, a British climate economist Lord Stern cautioned that the U.S. could face trade restrictions or a straight up boycott of particular goods if it did not drastically cut greenhouse emissions.

“The US will increasingly see the risks of being left behind, and ten years from now they would have to start worrying about being shut out of markets because their production is dirty,” Stern told The Times of London.

In the meantime, going after the 2016 GOP contenders is a priority for billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer. Steyer’s group, known as Next Gen, plans to target each candidate who questions the validity of man-made climate change, The Huffington Post reports. NetxGen’s mission, according to their Chief Strategist Lehane, will be to “disqualify” these candidates from the race.

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