Smokey haze from the Canadian wildfires continued to cover the East Coast of the United States on Friday, and PBS’s Amanpour and Company used the air pollution to portray Republicans as opposed to a healthy environment. Ironically, Amanpour’s guest, Democratic Senator Chris Coons (DE) spent his air time promoting a bipartisan bill for a carbon border tax.
Christiane Amanpour commenced the segment by describing the harm caused to innocent civilians by the smoke and segued into a discussion on climate change. “So, do you think something like this, the actual clear and present public health danger that you talk about, and the people are talking about, is actually something tangible that can bring on board climate skeptics, deniers, reluctance, whatever we want to call them?” Amanpour questioned, displaying her distaste for those who might not agree.
“I hope so.” Coons replied, “As you may know, Christiane, I co-founded the Climate Solutions Caucus here several years ago. It's a bipartisan group of 14 senators, seven Republicans, seven Democrats, where, as a group, we agree that the climate is changing because of human activity, and we have to come together to do something about it.”
Amanpour remained unconvinced that Republicans could care about the climate. She continued:
OK. Senator, so, I understand that you could probably get some good -- and you have done bipartisan support for this, because it's outside the borders of the United States, but in the United States there's still so many who are reluctant, you know, on-on the other side of the aisle to talk about a carbon tax or any of these big mitigating possibilities.
Amanpour did not want to leave her audience under the impression that preventing pollution was a bipartisan issue. She immediately inserted her opinion that Republicans, “the other side of the aisle,” were holding back progress and asserted that they only supported the bill because it was, “outside the borders of the United States.”
She poorly disguised her attempt to discredit the seven Republicans who addressed the issue of carbon admissions alongside the seven Democrats. “So, how do you expect your own country, you know, fully on board?” Amanpour questioned, still skeptical that anyone other than Democrats, much less the entire country, would favor carbon reductions.
Coons responded by talking about the progress already made towards a more environmentally friendly economy, avoiding Amanpour’s prompt to deprecate Republicans. He spoke highly of the efforts of both his Democratic and Republican colleagues and maintained that his bill was bipartisan.
Unable to convince Coons to blame Republicans for the haze and air pollution, Amanpour changed the conversation to China, which pollutes more than the U.S.
Their conversation began with the dangers of the smoke drifting across the East Coast. She then connected the smoke and air pollution to climate change, despite reports that Canadian officials are ramping up arson investigations. Finally, she addressed Republicans as deniers of climate change and generally opposed to any carbon-reducing policy, attempting to connect Republicans to the smoke pollution.
Amanpour’s assertions may have been more believable if she had not chosen to base them on a perfectly bipartisan, pro-environmental policy.
Amanpour and Company’s anti Republican bias was made possible because of a sponsorship from Navage. Their contact information is linked.
The Transcript is below, click "expand" to read.
Amanpour and Company
11:07 p.m. Eastern
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Athena Jones reporting there in a rare example of bipartisan policy along with Republican Kevin Cramer. Senator Chris Coons recently introduced a bill that’ll lay the groundwork for America's first carbon border tax. And he's joining me now from Washington. Senator, Welcome to the program.
SEN. CHRIS COON (D-DE): Great to be on with you again, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Yea. Can I just ask you, because now we know that the -- you know, the air is moving down south towards you, towards Washington, and all sorts of EPA alerts are at their highest, can you describe? I mean, what it is it like where you are? Is it difficult to breathe?
COONS: Well, I went for a walk here outside this morning in Washington, you can smell the smoke in the air, it is hazy. In my home state of Delaware, it's even worse and -- where my youngest, Margaret, is a recent college graduate in New York City, it's a complete blanket of haze. My family was sending images back and forth between the five of us in the last day or two.
This is a real public health challenge and a reminder that climate change has dramatic consequences. The vast wildfires out of control in Canada are impacting the entire East Coast of the United States. And for folks who are particularly vulnerable, who have asthma or other breathing difficulties, this is a critical issue.
AMANPOUR: So, do you think something like this, the actual clear and present public health danger that you talk about, and the people are talking about, is actually something tangible that can bring on board climate skeptics, deniers, reluctants, whatever we want to call them?
CHRIS COONS: I hope so. As you may know, Christiane, I co-founded the Climate Solutions Caucus here several years ago. It's a bipartisan group of 14 senators, seven Republicans, seven Democrats, where, as a group, we agree that the climate is changing because of human activity, and we have to come together to do something about it.
The bill you referenced that Senator Cramer and I just introduced has a bipartisan group of co-sponsors, and it would direct the Department of Energy, the U.S. federal government, to begin a mission standard testing so that we've got data on the emissions intensity of U.S. manufactured heavy industry products like steel and aluminum, glass, and concrete, and to gather that data from our partners and allies, like the U.K. and E.U. and Canada, and our competitors like Russia, China, India, that's laying the technical groundwork or foundation for our carbon border adjustment mechanism.
The E.U. is already well on its way to having such a mechanism in place that will impose tariffs on imported goods into the E.U., including potentially from the United States. And I've had several important conversations with national leaders, with climate advocates, with legislators from the E.U., U.K., Canada and other countries about how we could pull together and have a common carbon club of shared emissions reduction ambition.
We can use trade and potential tariffs as a way to bring into compliance our closest partners and allies and to impose costs on the heavy industrial products of countries like Russia and China that don’t reduce emissions.
AMANPOUR: OK. Senator, so, I understand that you could probably get some good -- and you have done bipartisan support for this, because it's outside the borders of the United States, but in the United States there's still so many who are reluctant, you know, on-on the other side of the aisle to talk about a carbon tax or any of these big mitigating possibilities.
COONS: That's right.
AMANPOUR: So, how do you expect your own country, you know, fully on board?
COONS: So, first, we've just made the biggest move forward in terms of climate ambition, in not just American history but in world history when President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which has $369 billion of incentives to transition towards a cleaner energy economy here in the United States. That's an important first step, to show the world that we're serious.
But to your point, Christiane, I am not trying to impose a carbon tax. We’re trying to measure the emissions reductions that have already happened in the United States because of our regulations, and then advantage cleaner or lower emissions, heavy industrial products. So, for example, American made steel and aluminum should not face any tariffs, whereas perhaps steel and aluminum coming from Russia or China that are intensive in their emissions would, and imports from the E.U. or Canada or U.K. wouldn't because they have regulatory schemes because of their carbon taxes and because of their regulations that are comparably low emissions to ours. I know it's a little complicated, but I think there is a way for us to harmonize our approaches to climate ambition across these open market democracies that are also close partners and allies.
AMANPOUR: So, let's talk about China, because it's, it’s clearly a very big player, and most of the China, you know, experts, including the Biden administration climate czar, John Kerry, basically state the obvious, that without China's cooperation none of this will come to pass.
AMANPOUR: There are distinctly frosty relations between the United States and China right now. I mean, worse than frosty.
COONS: That's right.
AMANPOUR: Do you see anything attempts in the -- attempts at a thaw that the U.S. is trying to project that could bear any fruit?
COONS: So, look, I am always an optimist about that possibility, but this is an approach that doesn't require warmer or closer relations between the United States and China. That's part of the beauty of an approach that says, if you want to access the American market, you have to prove that you have low emissions heavy industrial products. The thing that is most likely to bend the curve of emissions in China and India is market forces through trade.
So, again, Christiane, let's just imagine for a moment if the E.U., U.K., U.S., Canada, South Korea, Australia, all aligned around low emissions approaches to how we manufacture steel and aluminum, glass and cement, heavy industrial products and to access our markets, China and India would have to demonstrate, and Russia, that they are reducing their industrial emissions. That will drive them to change their emissions profiles, to slow down the rate at which they're currently building a record number of coal fired power plants. That's the thing that is going to drive global reductions in emissions more than any agreement, because I frankly think our relations may continue to be strained or even as you put it, frosty for years to come.
AMANPOUR: Well –
COONS: So, using –
AMANPOUR: -- maybe frosty was –
COONS: -- free market, using trade might well work.
COONS: And our agreements so far have not.
AMANPOUR: OK. But there's still trade problems between the United States and China. President Biden hasn't lifted some of the mechanisms and tariffs that President Trump imposed, and there seems to be a real sense that this China administration of President Xi is very different from the predecessors trying, you know, very hardline negotiating with the United States.
AMANPOUR: Do you believe that the U.S. is having any success with its attempts to reach out or not, whether China will accept it, as we speak, there have been near misses both involving Chinese and American, you know, naval assets and air assets?
COONS: That's right. Christiane, we're in a very dangerous period in U.S. China relations. There have been, as you said, a number of very near misses on the seas and in the air, and we are trying to reopen the lines of dialogue simply to deal with the potential for escalation in the event there were a midair collision caused by reckless conduct by a Chinese pilot, for example.
Those Section 232 tariffs, the tariffs that were imposed by President Trump that are still in place on Chinese industrial products are also still in place on some imports from our close partners and allies. And Katherine Thai, the U.S. trade representative, is negotiating with the E.U., with the U.K., with other partners on potentially reducing or eliminating those tariffs and moving forward with something like an agreement on sustainable steel and aluminum.
This bill that I just introduced with my Republican partner, Senator Cramer, would advantage the manufacturing of U.S. based low emissions, heavy industrial products and potentially, if we work this out, reduced tariffs on things coming into this country from our partners and allies in U.K, Canada, E.U. but retain high tariffs on high emissions imports from countries like China or Russia. That's actually similar to the trade approach of the former president, President Trump, but justified on different grounds and a way that reinforces our shared climate ambition and our alliances with the countries I've just been mentioning that are open markets and open societies.