As presidential hopefuls begin making the quadrennial trek to Iowa, state-based academicians and researchers plan to ask the candidates a simple – but pointed – question: What will you do about climate change?
The impetus for the question was raised by six Iowa-based scientists in the fifth annual ‘Iowa Climate Statement 2015: Time for Action.’ The document, which addresses environmental and climate matters that are important to Iowa, has nearly 200 signatories from researchers and academicians from 39 colleges and universities across the state.
And because the Iowa caucuses are an early litmus test for presidential hopefuls, the scientists believe they have a unique platform to force politicians to address the issue.
‘The upcoming Iowa caucuses provide Iowans with a unique opportunity to bring their questions into the national conversation about climate change. As presidential candidates come to our state to ask Iowans for their votes, we feel it is important to know how candidates use science to inform decisions,’ reads the statement. ‘Therefore, we hope that all candidates will be asked and will answer at least the following question: What polices do you support to address climate change?’
And unlike previous presidential elections, there are tangible initiatives for the candidates to offer comment, such as the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and the upcoming U.N. climate change conference in Paris.
Using renewable energy to mitigate carbon emissions has paid off handsomely for Iowans, as the state has reaped economic and employments benefits from an abundance of wind energy. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Iowa ranked third among states according to installed capacity. In 2014, Iowa wind generated 5.7 GW – approximately 29% of all electricity produced in the state.
But this isn't the first time the presidential candidates discussed renewables during an Iowa campaign stop. During the 2012 campaign, President Obama rebuked challenger Mitt Romney for his stance on ending the PTC – a position harmful to wind turbine component manufacturing for wind farm development.