Julian Castro: 2020 Climate Forum

Summary

“To different people, climate change means different things,” Velshi said as he and Castro sat down. Castro agreed, emphasizing that what makes his plan unique from others is its particular focus on the social impacts of climate change. Climate change is not just a scientific phenomenon, he stressed, but a “huge human challenge.” Mentioning the issues of climate refugees and environmental racism, Castro described how the people most drastically affected by climate change are often those in the poorest, most vulnerable communities. Because of this, he believes it is essential that all climate change policies should be based around  social justice.

Castro frequently cited his past political record as evidence of why his climate plan is both thorough and practical. As mayor of Houston, his direct interaction with constituents and role in shaping policy enabled him to see crises as opportunities to grow–an apt way to think of our current environmental situation. He also mentioned that as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he adopted an “all hands on deck” approach to reduce the number of homeless veterans, an effort that spanned across departments. This style is one that he wants to utilize in his proposed Climate Council–a group that would work across federal agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector to ensure that individuals and corporations are adopting the best practices for the environment. In addition to his unique approaches to fighting climate change, several of Castro’s points aligned with what other candidates had said earlier in the day: he stated his support for a carbon equity scoring mechanism and berated the current administration for its climate skepticism. 

Near the end of his time, Castro addressed the assembled crowd, telling them that, “it’s possible for people to work in different ways to be a part of the solution.” Whether it is driving an electric car, being an environmental advocate, or recycling, each person is able to play an essential role in forwarding the dialogue about dealing with climate change. While taking individual responsibility is only a part of the solution, it is a critical step that will help move the country forward in combating the climate crisis.

GREEN Analysis, Genevieve Domenico

Julián Castro draws heavily on economic development and infrastructure as a way to fight climate change. This integration between economic progress and being more environmentally conscious while in theory sounds good, may be hard to enact in actuality. He also stated his belief to, “appoint people to the EPA and other departments who actually believe in climate change.” This is an essential reform that needs to occur in order to combat Trump-appointed EPA policymakers who support less stringent environmental regulations.