It was “Green Day” on Amanpour & Co. Wednesday, with host Christiane Amanpour in London interviewing Green Party Deputy Leader Zack Polanski and Obama administration economic advisor Betsey Stevenson on the same show. The result was 20 minutes of environmental rabble-rousing against the Conservative Party in the U.K., followed by kissing up to the Biden administration in the U.S. over electric cars, with an unwelcome cameo from economist turned pro-Dem political hack Paul Krugman.
AMANPOUR: Is the global green agenda in trouble as leaders around the world roll back climate policies and pledges, they say to boost their economies? Here in Britain, the government has just approved a huge new oil-and-gas field in the North Sea. Just a week after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak slow rolled carbon-neutral targets….my first guess is the deputy leader of Britain's Green Party, Zack Polanski.
POLANSKI: ….We know right now that we're in a climate emergency and we have to listen to the scientists. The science is really clear that we need to act now. And the very least we could do is to reduce our emissions….
Polanski revealed his true colors as more red than green, blaming capitalism itself for global warming as if the communist USSR hadn’t been a historic cesspool of pollution:
Well, let’s say it’s climate deniers or client delayers. It's people that, you know, talk about woke wars and culture wars. But actually, this is too serious to play politics with….And I think, you know, Liz Truss's [former Conservative Prime Minister] government was not an accident. That was not some kind of aberration. That's the natural extension of what happens if you allow the free market, if you allow the planet to burn, and you just keep allowing capitalism to be the only way forward here….
Amanpour offered no challenging questions to the Green spokesman about say, environmental resistance to safe, clean nuclear power.
Next, she spoke with Betsey Stevenson, former economic adviser to President Obama. Amanpour lent Stevenson dubious intellectual ammo to make her case that Bidenomics was working.
AMANPOUR: OK so, let me read you a stat that might help that, if it was made. According to the Bank of America, Biden's climate law has led to 86,000 new jobs and $132 billion in investment. And he's always saying, you know, when I think of climate change, I think of jobs, good jobs, union jobs, well playing -- well-paying jobs, but that stat is pretty good, isn't it?
STEVENSON: The stat is great. And the reality is that in the near term, it has led to the creation of jobs….
And then the words no one wants to hear. Amanpour said, “So, I want to play something that Paul Krugman" followed up by a clip from his Amanpour interview earlier this month defending Bidenomics.
[Archive clip of New York Times columnist/economist Paul Krugman: “Even optimists are just stunned by how quickly and how painlessly inflation has come down….this is a Goldilocks economy. People say it's a terrible economy, but what's really odd is that people don't behave as if it's a terrible economy….People are out there with a lot of discretionary consumer spending, travel, hotels, restaurants, all of that is booming. So people are acting as if they're in good shape financially. And yet, they say, wow, this is a disastrous economy.”]
Amanpour: What do you make of that?
And with President Biden spurring UAW members to push wages higher, inflation may continue to rise. Neither Amanpour or her guest made that point.
This fair and balanced take comes on a CNN International show that also airs on the taxpayer-supported PBS.
A transcript is below. Click “Expand.”
Amanpour & Co.
1:32:09 a.m. (ET)
AMANPOUR: Is a global green agenda in trouble as leaders around the world are rolling back climate policies and pledges, they say to boost their economies? Here
in Britain, the government has just approved a huge new oil and gas field in the North Sea. Just a week after the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak slow rolled carbon neutral targets.
But to be clear, the International Energy Agency says that limiting global warming to that 1.5 degrees Celsius would require no new drilling and the
green potentially huge. A new Oxford University reports finds that Britain's energy needs could be met entirely by wind and solar power by 2050.
We're going to explore this in depth tonight. And my first guess is the deputy leader of Britain's Green Party, Zack Polanski. Welcome to the program.
Polanski: Thanks for having me.
Amanpour: I was shocked actually to hear this as breaking news this morning, this new announcement. It's controversial. And why do you think
it's happening, and explain to us why you oppose it?
POLANSKI: I think it's absolutely controversial. We know right now that we're in a climate emergency and we have to listen to the scientists. The science is really clear that we need to act now. And the very least we could do is to reduce our emissions, never mind make things worse.
As to why this is happening, I really think the government is in freefall, they're panicking. They can see they are falling in the polls and they just don't seem to be able to get any ground. I really think Rishi Sunak is thinking, if I'm controversial or I appeal to a very minor base, that's
something to grow from. I think --
AMANPOUR: Who is his minor base?
POLANSKI: Well, it's climate deniers or client delayers. It's people that, you know, talk about woke wars and culture wars. But actually, this is too serious to play politics with. And I was thinking that's a strategy that won't work. We see time and time again that people are worried about the climate emergency, they worried about the children and their grandchildren's future. I think it's really important that people like me
and other people in the green movement tell these stories that essentially say, we're in a cost-of-living crisis but it's not really a cost-of-living
crisis, it's an inequality crisis.
The superrich are doing better than they ever have before. Meanwhile, people are living in mass poverty. This is an opportunity to make sure we
have good green jobs for people as we renew those industries and transition. And also, if you take insulating homes, for instance, if we
insulated every single home in Britain that needs that needs it, that both reduces bills, it lowers emissions and again, it creates those jobs I was
just talking about.
AMANPOUR: And this is often promised by various governments but never comes to it. But let's stick with this North Sea oil and gas field. So, first and
foremost, the government says that, you know, it will bring energy security to the U.K., after what we've seen with, you know, Russia and potentially
other fossil fuel producing nations, holding us hostage for whatever political upheaval might be there. So, what about energy security? What
about that argument?
POLANSKI: So, this is egregious nonsense because most of the oil that will come from this oilfield will be sold on the international market. So, we're
effectively giving it to Norway, who are giving a subsidy to this massive oil fossil giant and then selling it back to the U.K. But actually, if we really want energy security and want to protect our planet, investing in renewables is the exact way to do this.
Now, in 2015 under David Cameron's government, he famously said, let's cut the green crap. We've now got lots of evidence that shows if we'd invested right then, we'd be saving everyone masses on their energy bills right now. So, these are real missed opportunities. The best time to invest in renewables would have been about 10, 20 years ago. The second-best time is right now.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, what do you make of that? That's a pretty extraordinary Oxford University report to come out practically as this Rosebank field is announced. And it says by 2050, solar and wind could power all of them -- all of U.K.'s needs.
POLANSKI: I think it's really telling and it points again to what this government have missed, which is that long-term strategy, we're so short-termist all the time. But actually, if they took that step back, looked at this report and lots of other evidence, you could see how investing in renewables is exactly the way forward.
And just last week, we lost out on offshore wind because we failed to bid high enough at an auction. Again, we can't keep making mistakes like this.
And this is vital why we need more Green M.P.s in Parliament, because every Green M.P. is someone making this case, and we know the difference a Green
makes in the room, that it's a powerful voice that will say to probably a future Labour prime minister, that climate is important And I think it's
important to note that Labour today have said they won't revoke these licenses. They are complicit in what is essentially a climate crime.
AMANPOUR: They won't do any new ones, but they say they won't revoke existing permissions.
POLANSKI: And I feel like that's just spin. When we've just had the biggest oil and gas license committed to say, we won't do any new ones, feels very convenient. And it's worth pointing out that the emissions from this one alone are equal to 28 of the lowest income countries. That's about, you know, millions and millions of people. Again, it's just outrageous that Labour won't stand up.
AMANPOUR: So, the thing is though, you said it's important to have more Green politicians. If I'm not mistaken, I think you only have one M.P., right, your former leader, Caroline Lucas.
POLANSKI: That's correct.
AMANPOUR: Right. So, she basically has called it the greatest -- this new field, the greatest act of environmental vandalism in my lifetime. But I
just want to ask you about the facts here. She was told by the energy firm, Ithaca Energy, that the oil would not be mostly exported. And then, the
briefing from the main investor, as you said, says the oil will be sold on the open market and the most likely destination is Europe. Who's telling the truth?
POLANSKI: Well, I think let's explore both options very quickly. This is about scope 3 emissions, which are essentially when you burn this oil. Now,
if those emissions are being outsourced to another country, that would make it net zero, which is what the government are arguing. They're saying, it
doesn't cause any problems because it's essentially being sold on the international market.
But then, that story doesn't add up. If they're being burnt right here in - - you know, as we know, in the UK, then they are contributing to our emissions. Either way, we're still burning oil, and that's awful. But the
government's story is just incoherent and it doesn't add up either way.
AMANPOUR: And what does it mean for prices for the British consumer?
POLANSKI: Well, we've seen prices go further and further up. And I think, you know, Liz Truss's government was not an accident. That was not some
kind of aberration. That's the natural extension of what happens if you allow the free market, if you allow the planet to burn, and you just keep allowing capitalism to be the only way forward here.
I think ultimately, what we need to do is grab that agenda. So, again, we're saying, we're investing in green jobs for the future, we're
protecting the most vulnerable, and actually, we should be taxing the wealthiest for most as well. 91P in every pound from this oil is going back
to the fossil fuels. That's subsidizing fossil fuel companies --
POLANSKI: -- as opposed to subsidizing the people of Britain.
AMANPOUR: But I mean, that is huge. That's a huge subsidy to the fossil fuel companies.
POLANSKI: I mean, it's really grim. And you talk about green politicians, that's why people like Carla Denyer in Bristol West and Adrian Ramsay in
Waveney Valley. We need to get those people elected because they'll be making these arguments in Parliament.
AMANPOUR: Those are names maybe our international audience won't know, but I get your point. They're Green politicians. Zack Polanski, thank you very much for being with us.
POLANSKI: Thanks so much for having me on.
AMANPOUR: Now, in the United States, green policies and incentives are the backbone of President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act. The state of the U.
S. economy, a big focus for tonight's Republican presidential debate. Just as Biden and Trump are both trying to court blue collar workers in Michigan.
Here to unpack all of this is Betsey Stevenson, Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan and a former adviser to President Obama. And she's joining me from Ann Arbor. Betsey Stevenson, welcome.
You just heard one of the leaders of the Green Party here talk about, you know, the vandalism, the environmental vandalism, and also talk about the
costs. Do you think -- or the costs of the government claim, do you think that in general, whether it's Britain or the United States, the green
agenda is at risk right now in a serious way?
BETSEY STEVENSON, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: You know, I guess I don't think so. I think we're seeing a movement forward. You know,
if you want to focus on a small part of it, which is the electrification of vehicles, shifting from, gas vehicles to electric vehicles, it's clear that
just enormous progress has been made on that front. And you have to do it in a couple of different ways.
I mean, one is that we have to get the car companies to realize that's where their future is. And I think if you listen to the heads of the big
three automakers, they understand that in order for them to continue to compete, not just within the United States, but globally, they're going to
have to shift to electric vehicles. But we also then need the infrastructure within the United States for people to be able to count on and rely on electric vehicles. And that's something that the Inflation Reduction Act really put a lot into.
And then I think the U.S. needs to know that it can have a sustainable auto industry, even with a shift to electric vehicles, and that's what the CHIPS
Act was all about, helping to make sure that we can keep manufacturing in the United States with a sourcing of some of the components that we need
right here in the U.S. And so, the Biden administration's been trying to facilitate this transition while protecting U.S. industry.
AMANPOUR: So, as I said in the introduction, both President Biden and Former President Trump are sort of trying to make their case on this issue
in Michigan. President -- Former President Trump has called it, you know, Biden's all electric car hoax, and that it will annihilate the U.S. auto industry.
How -- I mean, that seems to be resonating in certain quarters. And obviously, some of the auto workers on strike are concerned about the
fallout from all of this. So, how does this -- the story get told to the people who matter?
STEVENSON: So, it's really easy to tell a story of we're not going to allow progress to go forward. Electric cars are terrible. We're going to just
keep doing things the old way. The problem is actually holding back change. And I think that's going to be really difficult. I think the biggest threat to the U.S. would be if the U.S. doesn't manufacture electric vehicles and other countries do, and our auto industry does.
You know, one of the reasons the U.S. had such a strong auto culture and auto industry was because we were first movers early on when it came to
ICE, you know, the internal combustible engine. So, we want to be able to do the same thing on electric vehicles.
I understand why there's a lot of skepticism. You know, if you look at the kinds of subsidies that were put in place by the Obama administration for
electric vehicles, Tesla was a big company that was a big capture of those subsidies.
Tesla's a non-unionized company. They're actually a company with known for a lot of violations of workplace safety rules. They're not where American
auto workers want to envision themselves working. And so, what they want to make sure is that the policies that are getting put in place are going to
allow electrification in a way that protects union jobs. That's the case Joe Biden has to make
Donald Trump's going to be out there saying, I'm going to promise you no change. People shouldn't believe no change, because that's not possible.
The question will be, can Biden convince them that it's going to be different from what we've done in the past?
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me read you a stat that might help that, if it was made. According to the Bank of America, Biden's climate law has led to
86,000 new jobs and $132 billion in investment. And he's always saying, you know, when I think of climate change, I think of jobs, good jobs, union
jobs, well playing -- well-paying jobs, but that stat is pretty good, isn't it?
STEVENSON: The stat is great. And the reality is that in the near-term, it has led to the creation of jobs. What the union is fighting for right now
is a promise that we won't see industry, not just move outside of the United States, but move to nonunion states, states that have created laws
making it harder to unionize and nonunion firms.
And so, they want to make sure -- they want to promise that when we start to shift to electric vehicles -- when the big three automakers are shifting
to electric vehicles, there's going to be union jobs making those cars. And you know, that -- that's the way for that industry to continue to grow, to
be able to hire more people, but they've got to promise their employees that they're not going to open plants in nonunionized areas, that they're
not going to be using that, you know, tiered system to hire people who aren't union workers to be able to do -- to fill those new positions.
And so, I think there's a real reason the union's having the fight they're having right now. They need to level set and say, we're going to work with
you on this move to electrification, but this is what we need. And I think Biden going out and showing up on the picket lines and saying, I'm here for
that, is what he needs to be doing to be making the case that he really can achieve a just transition.
AMANPOUR: Let's play a little bit of what he said yesterday when he was on the picket line. Obviously historic. No sitting president has done that.
And the UAW has had this historic strike. So, let's just play what he said.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Wall Street didn't build the country, the middle class built the country.
BIDEN: The (INAUDIBLE) build the middle class.
BIDEN: And that's a fact. So, let's keep going. You deserve what you earn and you earned a hell a lot more than you're getting paid now?
AMANPOUR: So, lots of cheers, obviously competing for that vote. And, you know, he's got a track record there, of course. Now, critics, including,
you know -- you mentioned Tesla, Elon Musk is saying, that striking workers demands will "drive G.M, Ford, and Chrysler bankrupt." Is that true?
STEVENSON: You know, I don't know where they're going to come out in terms of their final agreement. But, you know, what we're seeing as an industry,
it's been highly profitable and it can afford to pay its high-ranking executives outsized salaries, and all the workers are saying is, you know,
you haven't even taken us back to where we were in 2019. And we want more than 2019 because the companies have really improved.
Remember, these are workers who made a lot of concessions to save the industry in the 2008 crisis. Now, they're saying, you guys are doing really
well. You have a plan for being able to expand and move into the next century with electric cars. We want some of that. And I don't think that it
will bankrupt them.
But, you know, it's kind of interesting that Elon Musk is the one saying that because what he's saying is, I would never give my workers anything
like this. I operate by having people work long hours at low pay, and they got to compete against me.
STEVENSON: That's certainly what the big three is afraid of.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And let's just talk about Trump, who's also in Michigan. And he's also, obviously, trying to court as many voters as possible, including
blue collar workers. But I just want to point out what he said on Fox News in 2008 about these -- about unions. He basically said, unions get their
little 5 percent. They get another 2 percent. They get another 3 percent, 4 percent. All of a sudden, they're making more money than the people that
own the company. That was him two weeks after the UAW made massive concessions to the big three in December 2008. So, it's a little hypocrisy
there, isn't it? Who is he standing for?
SNOW: Well, you know, I think what I would point there is you can hear it in the tone, which is like the idea that the people who build the things
should get more than the people who invest in it, the stockholders, that seems outrageous to him. To a lot of people, that's not outrageous. Labor
should be getting a big share of whatever's produced. It's not just the investors.
Look, I -- you know, I invest in companies with my retirement funds too. I like to get a nice return, but do I really deserve more than what the
workers get? I don't think so.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Yes. So, I want to play something that Paul Krugman, Nobel economist, told me about Biden's -- you know, the economics and the facts
and Bidenomics, saying that there's this disconnect between what the polls say about it and what actually is happening. Let's just play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL KRUGMAN, NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING ECONOMIST: People say it's a terrible economy, but what's really odd is that people don't behave as if it's a
terrible economy. You know, we can talk about surveys, which -- in which people seem to be relatively happy with their own financial situation or we
can just look at behavior. People are out there with a lot of discretionary consumer spending, travel, hotels, restaurants, all of that is booming. So,
people are acting as if they're in good shape financially. And yet, they say, wow, this is a disastrous economy.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of that?
STEVENSON: You know, I do think it's one of the real challenges right now, particularly for President Biden is that it's clear that people are
actually doing OK when we look at where, you know, wages are at overall, growth in jobs, the unemployment rate, and then we look at their consumer
spending, which is what is -- you know, it's very strong and it's continuing to fuel economic growth, it looks great, but people don't feel good.
I think one answer to that is people don't feel good when there is a higher-than-normal inflation, even if it's just a little bit higher than
normal. Right now, we're at inflation that is higher than normal, but not by a lot.
The other thing though, is it's been an economy where everybody's been really shook up and there's been more winners and losers randomly impacted
by luck. You know, if you -- if you're a union worker, your wages haven't kept up with inflation. If you're an older worker, your wages haven't kept
up with inflation. Young workers don't have enough experience to understand that inflation has really helped drive high wages for younger workers and
people changing jobs. So, that's a benefit of inflation.
Unfortunately, you know, the people who are getting helped by it, don't tend to appreciate it. The people are getting hurt by it, absolutely notice.
AMANPOUR: All right. Betsey Stevenson, thank you so much indeed for joining.