Joni Ernst has failed Iowans on trade

Tyler Granger is a field representative with the National Wildlife Federation in Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst recently tweeted support for China “increasing their purchases of corn and soybeans from the U.S.” Normally Ernst refers to that country as “Communist China” on her Twitter feed, but when it comes to agriculture, she drops the red scare tactics.

Iowa’s trade relationship with China is complicated, but it is even more complicated when you consider the Paris Climate Agreement. That agreement within the United Nations aims to confront greenhouse-gas emissions through international diplomacy. The next round of Paris talks is on trade, and the Trump administration has formally left the agreement.

Since the Trump Administration took office in 2017, they have made it their mission to gut environmental standards and ignore the most ambitious global policy to tackle the climate crisis. The Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to enforce the agreement through trade.

China has set goals to reduce its fossil fuel consumption in its last two five-year plans. China is moving forward with renewable energy and international trade commitments, and the U.S. will be left behind without being in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Trade is important to Iowa farmers and manufacturers, and access to the Mississippi River gives the Midwest the advantage of being able to float commodities down the river and export goods all across the world. When those markets are gone, they do not come back and the economic hurt will be felt for generations.

The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that ignoring science makes us less safe. As we rebuild from the coronavirus, we should accelerate the transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy. Renewable energy is good for trade, public health, and economic stability. Climate action can light the path forward by creating jobs, improving our public health, and ending injustice in our energy and environmental policies. 

Unfortunately, Ernst does not see it that way. In the spring, she signed a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, demanding that fossil fuel corporations not be excluded from receiving COVID-19 relief funds through the CARES Act. Taxpayer dollars are going to an already overly subsidized industry, which is responsible for increasing carbon emissions.

We need bold leadership to combat climate change. Iowa can be that leader if we elect a senator who is willing to stand up for the truth on climate change and trade.

Top image: Senator Joni Ernst at a town hall meeting on October 3, 2019. Photo by Tyler Granger, published with permission.

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