Climate Change and the 2020 Presidential Candidates: Where Do They Stand?

Climate Change and the 2020 Presidential Candidates: Where Do They Stand?

(This post was last updated on January 14, 2020.)

Climate change is getting unprecedented attention from many of the 2020 presidential candidates. They are responding to the threats posed by a rapidly warming climate, the economic opportunities in switching to clean energy and the increasing concern of American voters: according to the Yale Program for Climate Change Communication, a record 69 percent of voting-age Americans say they are worried about climate change. Almost a third say they are “very worried,” by far the highest percentage ever recorded.

This blog is monitoring and collecting the candidates’ comments and positions on climate change and clean energy. Our goal is to highlight the issue’s growing salience and to provide a resource for the public. It will be updated regularly to capture additional comments as they occur and add candidates as they declare.

Each candidate’s profile is organized into four categories: 

  1. Climate plans released by candidates (if any);
  2. Overview of how the candidate’s website talks about climate change;
  3. Public statements by the candidate on climate change; and
  4. Candidate’s history on climate action.

 

Democratic Candidates for President (in alphabetical order):

  1. Sen. Michael Bennet (Climate plan)
  2. Joe Biden (Climate plan)
  3. Michael Bloomberg (Climate plan)
  4. Pete Buttigieg (Climate plan)
  5. Rep. John Delaney (Climate plan)
  6. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
  7. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Climate plan)
  8. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Climate plan)
  9. Tom Steyer (Climate plan)
  10. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Climate plan)
  11. Andrew Yang (Climate plan)

Republican Candidates for President (in alphabetical order):

  1. Pres. Donald Trump
  2. Gov. William Weld

Democratic Candidates

Sen. Michael Bennet

Climate Plans:

On May 20, Bennet released his climate plan. It has eight major components:

  1. Achieve 100% clean, net-zero emissions by 2050;
  2. Create 10 million zero-emission economy jobs in 10 years;
  3. Cut energy waste in half by 2040;
  4. Decarbonize agriculture with the help of farmers;
  5. Conserve 30% of America’s land and oceans by 2030;
  6. Create a climate bank to deploy $1 trillion on federal funds in infrastructure and clean technologies by 2030;
  7. Offer every household a “Climate X option” to purchase affordable zero-emissions electricity, zero-emissions vehicles, retrofits and decentralized renewable energy generation technology;
  8. Create a 2030 Climate Challenge to push states to develop strong climate plans.

Campaign Website:

Bennet’s campaign website states, “Michael will seize the economic opportunity of combating climate change—providing new opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to become more resilient and to invest in zero-emissions energy while growing the economy.”

Bennet has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge to “not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or SEC-named executives of fossil fuel companies — companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.”

Public Statements:

At an Iowa house partyon February 23, 2019, while he was still exploring a run for president, he told those gathered, “I’m not going to pass judgment one way or another on the Green New Deal… But I am deeply concerned [about climate change].”

On February 26, 2019, Bennet told the Western Wire, “We owe the American people a durable solution to address climate change, not one that whipsaws back-and-forth with changing political winds. The Green New Deal continues a much-needed conversation on how combating climate change and creating jobs are not at odds with one another. I spent the last year talking to farmers, ranchers, and rural communities in Colorado about how climate change is making it harder for them to hand their family farms to their children and grandchildren. I’m going to continue talking to these communities and more to identify what’s possible to address this critical issue.”

In the first Democratic presidential debateon June 27, Bennet was one of two candidates on stage who said climate change would be their top issue upon assuming office.

 

On July 2,in an interview with Pod Save America, Bennet talked about the importance of making climate a bipartisan issue: 

“I don’t think we can solve climate change two years at a time… If we have to accept a world where every two-years or four-years the work that’s done on climate is torn out by the other party, we will never be able to address climate in a meaningful way… I believe it’s a very urgent problem and we need to act urgently, but we also need an enduring solution. We can’t do it even one administration at a time. It’s going to have to last longer than that. And when you look at the issue of climate, the Republicans had a relatively honorable tradition, which is that Richard Nixon put the EPA in place and signed The Clean Water Act, The Clean Air Act. Ronald Reagan closed the hole in the ozone layer, both Bush’s said we had to deal with climate and led efforts at the UN to do that. McCain ran on climate change. What changed? Citizens United changed. And that completely changed the way the national Republican Party looks at this because they’re being corrupted into inaction by the Koch brothers. Republicans in Colorado are not being corrupted into inaction by the Koch brothers. They are seeing their farms and ranches threatened because of our inability to deal with climate change. So I think there is a big distinction.”

“the majority of people in this country believe that climate change is real and we should be doing something about it, and that it’s an urgent problem. They may have some disagreements about how to deal with. I think we lost the climate argument because we lost the jobs argument. That’s what I believe. I think we lost the economic argument to Donald Trump, preposterously, ridiculously. We didn’t make an affirmative argument on the economy in 2016, and we didn’t make an argument on the economy in the context of climate change. If you’re down in Miami, Florida as we were last week for the debates down there. It’s impossible to argue that not contending with climate is better for the economy, that contending with climate is not better for the economy than not contending with climate. It’s impossible to make that argument in Colorado. It’s impossible to make that argument in California. We did not make that argument in 2016. Donald Trump won a cartoon argument on the economy, and if we are going to continue to lose to that argument then I accept that we’re doomed, but I think we can do better than that. I really do. I mean, I think we have to.”

At the MSNBC Climate Forum on September 19, Bennet told Chris Hayes, “I support putting a price on carbon, I do, and I think it’s a very efficient way for us to deal with this. But I don’t think it’s the only way for us to deal with this and I don’t think it’s going to happen in the near term, which is why most of the candidates haven’t put it in there. There’s opposition from both sides…. I believe the problem is so urgent that if we could invest $10 trillion over the next 8 years or decade in this we should do it whether we’ve done the price on carbon or we haven’t.”

When Hayes asked if he would ban fossil fuel extraction on public lands, Bennet replied“I wouldn’t stop it. I think there are places where you would never want anybody to drill anything and I’ve protected those my 10 years in the Senate… I think if it is extracted properly natural gas has a role to play in the transition to renewables… If Donald Trump’s rules of stripping our regulations on capturing fugitive methane stands that’s going to make it a lot harder for me to view this as a useful transition, because if you’re not capturing the fugitive methane then it’s not half as clean as coal anymore it’s as dirty as coal.”

History:

In 2017 Bennet wrote an op-ed in USA Today urging his party to reconsider its approach to climate change.

“We should recognize that many communities now rely on energy production for their economic lifeblood. It is not enough to call for less coal or oil without having meaningful work to replace lost jobs. For someone who earned $80,000 in the energy sector, working in fast food or attending a failed job training program offers little solace. Pretending otherwise leads many Americans to conclude that Democrats don’t understand their challenges, or even worse, that we don’t care.”

“Similarly, when Democrats oppose natural gas, we fail to appreciate both its importance to small town economies and its pivotal role in reducing coal production. The transition to clean energy will not happen overnight. Saying no to responsible production of natural gas — which emits half the carbon of the dirtiest coal and is the cleanest fossil fuel — surrenders progress for purity.”

“We also need to connect climate change to everyday lives. Concern about melting ice caps and endangered species is justified, but it has little resonance beyond our cities and coasts. On the other hand, every farmer and rancher in Colorado understands that persistent droughts and wildfires directly threaten their business and way of life. Likewise, many in Colorado know that warming temperatures endanger our skiing, fly fishing and outdoor recreation. If we ignore these economic realities in our climate debate, we will struggle to break the gridlock in Washington…. To break the impasse, we have to learn from our mistakes. That means reaching the small towns, farmers, ranchers and workers who see the dangers of climate change, but who have tuned out. It means choosing arguments that broaden our coalition instead of shrink it.”

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Joe Biden

Climate Plans:

On June 4, Biden released his $1.7 trillion “Clean Energy Revolution” climate plan on his campaign’s website. Overall, his plan has 5 key goals:

  1. Ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050;
  2. Make a historic investment of $400 billion over 10 years in energy and climate research and innovation, as well as clean and resilient infrastructure and communities;
  3. Recommit the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change and lead an effort to get every major country to ramp up the ambition of their domestic climate targets;
  4. Stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities;
  5. Fulfill our obligation to workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and subsequent decades of economic growth.

In a video accompanying the plan’s launch, Biden tells the camera, “As President, I will lead America and the world, not only to confront the crisis in front of us but to seize the opportunities it presents. I’ll use every authority available to me to drive progress, and I will not accept half measures, because making these revolutionary changes is going to take an incredible commitment at all levels. I am absolutely confident that’s what the American people want to do and we can meet this challenge.”

Campaign website:

Biden’s campaign website describes how, on day one, “Biden will sign a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track. And, he will demand that Congress enacts legislation in the first year of his presidency that:

  • establishes an enforcement mechanism that includes milestone targets no later than the end of his first term in 2025,
  • makes a historic investment in clean energy and climate research and innovation,
  • incentivizes the rapid deployment of clean energy innovations across the economy, especially in communities most impacted by climate change.”

It also says, “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face. It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected.”

Biden has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge to “not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or SEC-named executives of fossil fuel companies — companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.”

Public statements:

In a January 24 address to the US Conference of Mayors, Biden said,

“The threat posed by climate change is existential…. EPA has spoken, they’ve laid all this out. Our scientists have spoken, there’s no dispute about this among scientists. Since when did we become science deniers? The United Nations told us, whether you agree with the exact number, that we have 12 years to act before it’s irreversible. So say it’s 10 years or 20 years. Nobody is disputing if we fail to act we’re going to have a more serious problem… The point is this is really important, and it’s within our power… We need leaders who understand this is the most urgent priority facing the nation and we’ll be judged by our children and grandchildren on what we do today.”

“Ten years ago we knew we needed a green revolution. We understood the urgency in terms of people’s health, in terms of economic growth, in terms of people’s lives. And with you all we put the country on a path!… There’s no reason that by 2025 all of North America can’t get half its electricity from non-polluting sources. It’s within our grasp, but for special interests! We need to reset these goals, for our children and our grandchildren. The administration has walked away, but there’s no reason we can’t pull ourselves back on the path.”

On May 10, Reuters reported that Biden’s team was “crafting a climate change policy he hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters who elected Donald Trump…carving out a middle ground approach” that would likely include “nuclear energy and fossil fuel options like natural gas.”

Biden’s team quickly responded, saying, “Reuters got it wrong. Joe Biden has called climate change a ‘existential threat,’ and we look forward to discussing his plan to address it in a meaningful and lasting way in the coming weeks.”

The candidate himself wrote in response, saying, “I’m proud to have been one of the first to introduce climate change legislation. What I fought for in 1986 is more important than ever — climate change is an existential threat. Now. Today. We need policies that reflect this urgency. I’ll have more specifics on how America can lead on climate in the coming weeks.”

On May 13 at a campaign rally in New Hampshire, Biden spoke about the Reuters article and his legacy on climate:

“We need an environmental revolution. I said back in 1987 in a floor speech when they passed one of my bills, I said we have an existential threat! We have a situation where if we don’t act quickly we’re going to lose basically everything we have. And that’s exactly the case, it’s even more urgent now. We do need to finish this green revolution in a way that’s rational, that we can afford, and get it done now.”

At his launch rally on May 18 in Philadelphia, Biden talked about the importance of addressing climate change:

“Folks, the greatest challenges we face in the future will be over technology, intellectual property, clean energy, a warming planet. There’s not a single thing that building a wall or imposing a tariff can solve on any of these issues. Folks, we need a 21st century strategy for America.”

“There’s not much time left, we need a clean energy revolution, we need it now, we have to start now, we have to build on what we’ve already built. And by the way, we have to stop thinking that clean energy and job creation don’t go together. They do! They do! We need to set the most aggressive goals possible, but folks, we have to work together to get it done.”

“If you want to know what the first and most important plank in my climate proposal is: Beat Trump. Beat Trump.”

In the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, Rachel Maddow asked Biden what steps he could take to address the climate crisis without the support of congress. Biden said,

“I would immediately insist that we build 500,000 recharging stations throughout the united states of America, working with governors, mayors, and others so we can go to a full electric vehicle future by the year 2030. I would make sure that we invested $400 million in new science and technology to be the exporter of the green economy and create millions of jobs. I would immediately rejoin the Paris climate accord, and I would up the ante in that accord…. We have to have someone who knows how to corral the rest of the world, bring them together and get something done like we did in [the Obama-Biden] administration.”

 

Biden was asked by the moderators at the second Democratic debate on July 31, “Would there be any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking in a Biden administration?” He replied, “No, we would work it out. We would make sure it’s eliminated and no more subsidies for either of those, any fossil fuel.”

The Trump campaign immediately pounced on the statement, saying, “Joe Biden promises to kill the job of every American who works with fossil fuels.”

The next day his campaign issued a statement clarifying that Biden, “supports eliminating subsidies for coal and gas and deploying carbon capture sequestration technology to create economic benefits for multiple industries and significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

History:

Biden introduced a bill in 1986 that would have established a presidential task force on climate change.

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Mike Bloomberg

Climate Plans:

Bloomberg released his “International Climate Priorities” shortly after announcing his run for president. They fall into three major categories:

  1. Immediately re-join the Paris Agreement and meet the targets science recommends. Mike will notify the U.N. to re-enter the Paris Agreement and significantly increase the U.S. commitment to reduce emissions to lead the world by example, aiming to meet the targets science tells us are necessary to reverse climate change and remain at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.”
  2. Make climate change a top priority of U.S. foreign policy, and intensify U.S. and international actions to stop the expansion of coal and otherwise lower emissions.
  3. Protect national security, and ensure that the world’s most vulnerable people are kept safe from the impacts of climate change.

He also pledges to “put an unprecedented focus on climate in the general election, and make climate one of his top priorities as president.”

Bloomberg released his “Plan for 100% Clean Energy” on December 13. In it, he commits to “propelling the country towards a 100% clean-energy economy-wide future as soon as humanly possible and before 2050, slashing emissions by 50% across the entire U.S. economy in ten years.” He also calls for, “phasing out all carbon and health-threatening pollution in the electricity sector, ensuring 80% clean electricity by the end of his second term of office.”

His plan falls into three buckets:

  1. Completely phase out emissions in the electricity sector by:
    • “Stopping the rush to build new gas plants”;
    • “Replacing all coal plants with clean energy no later than 2030”; 
    • “Commencing the orderly replacement of existing gas plants”;
    • “Ending all subsidies for fossil fuels”;
    • “Establishing a moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases on federal lands”;
  2. Accelerate the deployment of clean energy resources by:
    • “expediting the siting of transmission and clean-energy projects, including on disturbed federal land and offshore”;
    • “working with states and railroads to streamline approval and siting of interstate transmission lines”;
    • “invest in modernizing and expanding the electricity grid that enables greater consumer participation and two-way flows of energy and information”;
    • “quadruple the federal R&D investment in clean energy and a clean grid to at least $25 billion a year”;
    • “extend and expand solar and wind tax credits and, at the same time, create new tax incentives for private companies to improve clean-energy technology, including battery storage and green hydrogen”;
  3. Invest first in communities that have suffered most from coal pollution or have been left behind in the transition to clean energy by:
    • “expanding investments to map the unequal exposure to pollution, the health impacts of climate change, and socioeconomic factors”;
    • “enhance neighborhood- and community-level air and water pollution monitoring to identify and eliminate hotspots near current and previously-used coal-related facilities, including cumulative pollution from multiple facilities”;
    • “use the National Environmental Policy Act so that climate risk, environmental impacts, and equity concerns are considered in all federal actions, and also incorporate these considerations into the Office of Management and Budget’s annual budget process”;
    • “centralize planning of environmental justice from the White House by codifying the existing National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and creating environmental justice offices in every federal agency”.

Campaign Website:

Bloomberg’s campaign website includes links to his plans and declares, “Mike is a global leader in the fight against the climate crisis and has helped drive progress on every continent through his role as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action. He has worked with cities, states, and businesses to keep our country moving forward on climate change despite President Trump’s failed attempts to drag us backwards. As president, Mike will ensure the federal government leads an ambitious agenda to accelerate the U.S. toward a clean energy economy.”

Public statements:

On January 29, 2019, Bloomberg spoke at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire about climate change. He spoke briefly about the Green New Deal, saying:

“A lot of elected officials have embraced the idea of the Green New Deal and that’s great, it’s become fashionable to do so, but I think it’s time as a party that we started putting some meat on the bone and laying out exactly what it should include. I believe that plan should be bold and ambitious and most importantly achievable. I’m a little bit tired of listening to things that are pie in the sky, that we never are going to pass, never going to afford, I think it’s just disingenuous to promote those things. You’ve got to do something that’s practical… 

I have already begun working on putting together the details of what I believe is a Green New Deal, what it should look like, and whether I run for President or not I will ensure that fighting climate change and spurring economic development in areas that have depended on fossil fuels is a top priority for the Democratic nominee.”

 

On December 13, 2020 in Alexandria, Virginia, Bloomberg outlined his vision for reaching 100% clean energy. 

“Today, I’m happy to announce that we are setting new, ambitious goals for our country – including goals that we can actually achieve over the next eight years.

“First, I will push for an 80 percent reduction in electricity emissions by the year 2028, and 100 percent clean electricity shortly thereafter.

“To get it done, we’ll replace all U.S. coal plants with clean energy. We’ll also replace existing gas plants and we’ll stop the construction of new gas plants. There is an article in – I think it’s today’s New York Times – about the amount of methane that gas is spewing into the air – it is really scary. This is going to be worse than coal. We’ve got to make sure that we go from beyond coal to beyond carbon, which is what we’ve done with our organization.

“It’s a critical step to stopping the worst effects of climate change, because gas, as I said, is now really a very big problem, bigger than coal…

my experience in business and in 12 years in city hall running the most progressive city in the country was if you set big long-term goals nothing ever happens. If you set small, achievable goals, you can do them one after another. And it’s just amazing when you stop down the road and look back and see the compound effect that can happen, you can get where you want to go with a lot more degree of assurance and a lot quicker. Long-term goals don’t stop people from passing the buck and kicking the can down the road.

“So we’ll focus on getting big things done now – and improving health and creating jobs for Americans today, and we will cut greenhouse emissions across the entire United States by 2030, and that is a realistic goal.”

History:

According to his campaign website, Bloomberg has made three major contributions to addressing climate:

  1. “In the wake of Congress’ failure to pass a climate bill in 2010, Bloomberg worked with the Sierra Club to launch the Beyond Coal campaign, which has retired more than half of all U.S. coal plants since its inception. Politico called it ‘perhaps the most effective campaign in the history of the environmental movement.’”
  2. “When President Trump announced his intention to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Bloomberg joined former California Governor Jerry Brown to create “America’s Pledge,” a coalition of nearly 4,000 local leaders committed to meeting the goals the U.S. set under the Agreement.”
  3. “He recently launched Beyond Carbon, the largest-ever coordinated campaign to fight the climate crisis in the U.S., which works to accelerate the retirement of coal plants and stop the construction of gas plants. The investment brings his total investment in the global fight against climate change to $1 billion.”

He also co-authored a book with the former head of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, in 2017 about how cities can achieve progress on climate change.

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Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Climate Plans:

Buttigieg released his climate plan on September 4. 

The plan includes a timeline for becoming “a net-zero emissions society no later than 2050”: 

  1. By 2025, double the clean electricity generated in the U.S. 
  2. By 2035, build a clean electricity system with zero emissions and require zero emissions for all new passenger vehicles. 
  3. By 2040, require net-zero emissions for all new heavy-duty vehicles, buses, rail, ships, and aircraft and develop a thriving carbon removal industry. 
  4. By 2050, achieve net-zero emissions from industry, including steel and concrete, manufacturing, and agriculture sectors. 

To reach these goals, a Buttigieg administration will:

  1. “Work with Congress to pass an economy-wide price on carbon, which will automatically increase each year… and send rebates to Americans”;
  2. “Quadruple federal clean energy R&D funding to $25 billion per year by 2025, investing more than $200 billion over 10 years”;
  3. “Build three investment funds to spur clean technology development, including a $250 billion American Clean Energy Bank to fund locally-led clean energy projects, particularly in disadvantaged communities; a 10-year, $250 billion Global Investment Initiative to harness American innovation for clean energy and infrastructure projects around the world and counter China’s Belt and Road initiative; and a $50 billion American Cleantech Fund to fund demonstration projects”;
  4. “End subsidies for fossil fuel companies and close public lands to new fossil leases”;
  5. “Revitalize U.S. leadership in the Arctic Council so we can reduce emissions and oppose drilling in that region”;
  6. “Subject…all new infrastructure, including pipelines…to a climate-positive test”;
  7. Implement a Clean Electricity Standard that “will begin with current state-level goals and ramp-up to meet the goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035”; 
  8. Implement a Zero-Emissions Vehicles Standard “requiring that all new passenger vehicles sold be zero-emissions by 2035, and all heavy-duty vehicles sold be net-zero emissions by 2040”;
  9. Implement a Clean Industrial Technology Standard “for companies operating refineries, steel, cement, petrochemicals, and other industrial plants to reach net-zero emissions from industrial sources by 2050”;
  10. “Offer loan guarantees to companies for renovating existing plants and assembly lines to build new low-carbon products and create jobs in their communities”;
  11. “Strengthen SEC guidance on disclosure of material climate risks faced by publicly-listed companies, including risks from the physical impacts of climate change and the risks of transitioning to a low carbon economy”;
  12. “Deploy at least 1 gigaton of annual CO2 removal capacity by 2040, including direct air capture”;
  13. “Support farmers as leaders on stewardship and conservation in the fight against climate change by paying them to capture carbon and fixing the Renewable Fuel Standard”;
  14. “Provide transition assistance for displaced workers and communities, through a 10-year, $200 billion fund for training and transition. We must simultaneously guarantee a robust social safety net, making retirement and health benefits available to all who want them”;
  15. Convene a Pittsburgh Climate Summit in the first 100 days, inviting “local and regional leaders from around the country and the world…to commit to concrete action within their communities.”

Several weeks prior, Buttigieg released his Commitment to America’s Heartland plan for rural America. It includes a section on combating climate change that says as President, Buttigieg will:

  1. “Support agriculture and significantly invest in R&D as a powerful solution to climate change, including through soil carbon sequestration. Pete will invest nearly $50 billion over a decade in innovative research in soil technology, plant and animal health, food safety, nutrition and health, and natural resources, to promote a healthy environment for future generations. He will promote significant investment in R&D that has the potential to reduce agriculture’s carbon emissions to net-zero or net-negative and in technologies for monitoring and measuring soil carbon, while also boosting the bottom line for farmers”;
  2. “Pay farmers for conservation. Pete will expand many of the ecosystem services available today, like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program, to pay farmers to maximize land conservation, biodiversity, productivity, and soil health. He will also reduce the administrative barriers that many farmers face trying to access these incentives”;
  3. “Establish next-generation Resilience Hubs to provide climate resilience data, tools, and support to communities. The hubs will provide climate data for each region to help communities understand and manage risks. Where private sector funding is not available, the Resilience Hubs will be complemented by a $5 billion per year in federal Resilient America Grants, which would be allocated regionally and used for high-impact investments to mitigate damage before disasters”;
  4. “Support biofuels and rural America by supporting the Renewable Fuels Standard as written. Pete will work with farmers on policies and incentives that reward best practices and drive innovations that are good for U.S. agriculture and good for our climate. Additionally, Pete will stop the abuse of “small refinery” exemptions established by the current administration, which allows fossil fuel giants to skirt their obligations to blend biofuels.”

On August 28, Buttigieg took the No KXL pledge.By doing so, he committed to: 

  • “take executive action on Day One to… revoke the existing presidential permits issued unilaterally by President Trump for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, sending both projects back to relevant federal agencies to undergo legitimate environmental review and Tribal consultations”;
  • “direct all federal agencies (State Dept., FERC, Army Corps) to submit these two projects, as well as all new pipeline and energy infrastructure projects to a true climate test, and reject permits for any project that would exacerbate our climate crisis”;
  • “protect the property rights of farmers and ranchers from eminent domain abuse, and to honor the treaties the U.S. Government has signed with sovereign Tribal Nations”.

Campaign Website:

On May 17, Buttigieg released a climate platform on his website in which he says his goal is to “Implement a Green New Deal with all available tools including a carbon tax-and-dividend for Americans, and major direct investment to build a 100% clean energy society.”

Buttigieg has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge to “not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or SEC-named executives of fossil fuel companies — companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.”

Public statements:

On February 10, Buttigieg told Jake Tapper that he endorsed the Green New Deal resolution, saying, “I think it’s the right beginning. The idea that we need to race toward that goal and that we should do it in a way that enhances the economic justice and level of opportunity in our country, I believe that is exactly the right direction to be going in.”

On April 3, when a student at Northeastern asked him on why he supported the Green New Deal,erroneously claiming that it would ban cows, destroy and rebuild all buildings, and cost $93 trillion dollars, Buttigieg replied,

“I don’t believe in abolishing cows. The Green New Deal is a few pages of a framework. It’s not a fully designed plan. Here’s why I consider it important though to defend this framework, even though it’s more a set of goals than a set of answers as of now: when you think about [whether we] can get to zero carbon – or net-zero carbon, which is more realistic – by 2030 or not, I don’t view that as a decision that’s going to be made in Congress, in terms of whether that timeline is appropriate. I view it as a decision that’s already been made by science. In other words, the right year to achieve those carbon goals is yesterday. The only question is how fast can we do it. And part of that is a question of will! How far will we go? Will we increase R&D to make renewable energy more practical? Are we willing to implement a carbon tax that will force us to deal with the long term cost of carbon that we’re putting into the atmosphere? And I think retrofitting buildings is a great idea. I’m not saying we need to blow them all up and build them back, I do think we will create a lot of jobs while we’re at it in the building trades.”

In his announcement speech in South Bend, Indiana on April 15, Buttigieg said,

“Let’s pick our heads up to face what might be the greatest security issue of our time: climate change and climate disruption. No region of our country is immune to that threat. We’ve seen it in the floods in Nebraska, the tornadoes in Alabama, the hurricane in Puerto Rico and the fires in California…. Something is changing around us, and we’re not even having a contest over whose climate plan is better because only one side brought forth any plans at all! If you don’t like our plans on climate, fine! Show us yours! Our economy is on the line, our future is on the line, our lives are on the line, so let’s call it what it is: climate security, a life and death issue for our generation.”

On June 11 during a speech at Indiana University on foreign policy, Buttigieg described his approach to climate change, saying it includes,

  1. “a carbon tax and dividend to reorient our economy around a more sensible reward system…. 
  2. quadrupling our R&D to at least $25 billion a year leading the way on research into renewable energy, energy storage, and carbon storage…. 
  3. empowering rural america to be part of the solution, helping to unlock the potential of soil management and other 21st century farming techniques…. 
  4. And [offering] a new kind of support for cities and towns seeking to reduce their dependence on carbon.… seeing how cities are rising to meet this challenge, even as our respective national governments lag behind, I believe the US should foster not only international but subnational engagement to meet a challenge whose solutions could be as unifying as its threats are universal. We would do well to host a Pittsburgh summit of cities to form commitments to stand alongside the Paris framework from countries.”

History:

In 2018, Buttigieg committed South Bend to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. “We are already seeing the effects of climate change on our residents and businesses,” Buttigieg said about the announcement. “We joined the Covenant because we are serious about ensuring South Bend is a healthy, prosperous place for the next several generations, and because we want South Bend to contribute to the global effort to protect the climate.”

 

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Rep. John Delaney

Climate Plans:

After announcing his run for president, Delaney was one of the original co-sponsors of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2018, which NRDC experts David Doniger and Derek Murrow profiled here. In November he appeared on MSNBC to promote the bill, and upon being asked how climate change will feature in his presidential bid, he said “It’s a huge focus…. When I’m president I’m going to make sure we [pass a bill] just like this.”

Delaney released his climate plan on May 23. It has six areas of focus:

  1. Implement a carbon fee and dividend system that will reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2050;
  2. Promote negative emissions technology to capture the remaining 10%;
  3. Increase the federal renewable energy research budget 5-fold;
  4. Develop a challenge grant program to promote innovation and reduce emissions;
  5. Create a climate corps for national service;
  6. Build a new pipeline network to deliver captured CO2 to oil fields to enhance oil recovery and sequester captured carbon.

Campaign Website:

Delaney’s campaign website has platform statements on his climate change plan, the importance of negative emissions technologies, and his proposal for a national climate corps.

Public statements:

Delaney has made his support of a carbon tax one of his key platforms. “Putting a price on carbon is the most effective tool we have to tackle the massive threat of climate change,” he said in a press release in January. “A carbon tax will change behavior, spur massive new innovation in clean energy, and produce dividends that can be returned directly back to people.”

On February 12 during a visit to New Hampshire, Delaney poured cold water on the Green New Deal:

“I actually don’t think the Green New Deal is the way to go. The reason is that I want to do something about fixing climate change tomorrow. I don’t want to tie it to fixing health care…. If you tie climate change to universal healthcare then you’re actually making it five times harder to do anything on climate change!”

In the first Democratic presidential debate on June 26, Delaney said,

“I introduced the only bipartisan carbon tax bill in congress. All the economists agree that a carbon pricing mechanism works, you just have to do it right! You can’t put a price on carbon, raise energy prices, and not give it back to the American people. My proposal, which is put a price on carbon and give a dividend back to the American people, it goes out one pocket and in the other. I can get that passed my first year as president with a coalition of every Democrat in the Congress and the Republicans who live in coastal states. Republicans in Florida actually care about this issue. This has got to be our way forward.”

History:

Delaney twice introduced the Tax Pollution, Not Profits Act (2015, 2017), a carbon tax bill that would have invested revenue in assisting displaced coal workers and lowering the corporate tax rate. 

In 2016, Delaney filed a resolution alongside Senator Ben Cardin calling for the US to produce 50% of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2030.

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

Climate Plans:

Gabbard has not released any climate plans to date.

Campaign Website:

Gabbard’s campaign website says that she “is a champion for protecting our environment, ensuring clean water and air for generations to come, investing in infrastructure and a green energy economy… Regime change wars are bankrupting our country and our moral authority. We need to redirect those resources into a renewable, sustainable economy that works for everyone and bring about an era of peace.”

Gabbard has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge to “not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or SEC-named executives of fossil fuel companies — companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.”

Public statements:

Gabbard did not co-sponsor the Green New Deal resolution, citing its “vagueness” as her reason.

History:

Gabbard has been one of the most outspoken voices for climate action in the House, sponsoring the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act in 2017 which aimed to transition the country to 100 percent clean energy by 2035. In a press release when the bill was introduced, Gabbard said,

“We must do all we can to end our addiction to fossil fuels and deploy the technologies that will put America on the path toward a clean, sustainable energy future today and in the years to come…. If the federal government does not act now and bring people together to solve this challenge, we will fail to protect future generations of Americans from the devastating economic and environmental consequences of climate change.”

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Climate Plans:

On March 28, Klobuchar released her first major policy proposal: a massive infrastructure package that includes a climate change component. “Amy’s plan makes a down payment on transforming our economy from one reliant on fossil fuels to one that depends on clean energy,” her campaign’s press release said, adding,

“That means sweeping legislation that invests in green infrastructure, modernizes our aging energy infrastructure so that it is secure and efficient, strengthens bioenergy capabilities, puts incentives in place to overhaul our building codes, and invests in energy efficiency retrofits and rural renewable energy development. Amy will also help states and cities plan for the impacts of climate change by building stronger, more resilient transportation networks and public infrastructure to withstand rising sea levels, a changing climate, and extreme weather. This means good-paying jobs for people across the country, investments that ensure cleaner and greener communities and workplaces, and a commitment to doing something real about climate change.”

On June 18, Klobuchar released a list of over 100 concrete actions she would take in her first 100 days as president. Six were related to climate, including:

  1. “Get the United States back in the International Climate Agreement on day one”;
  2. “Senator Klobuchar will bring back the goals established by the Clean Power Plan”;
  3. “Senator Klobuchar will restore and strengthen our fuel economy standards, which are key to fighting climate change”;
  4. “Senator Klobuchar will introduce sweeping legislation to combat the climate crisis that builds on the framework of the Green New Deal, including a massive investment in green jobs and infrastructure, climate research and innovation, environmental justice programs, rural energy development and better greener transportation. In addition to a major direct federal investment, her legislation will create state, local and private incentives for the immediate adoption and deployment of clean energy technology to reduce emissions, including the promotion of green manufacturing. Her proposal will put our country on a path to achieving 100% net-zero emissions no later than 2050, fulfill our responsibility to our communities and workers who have helped power this country, and includes incentives and support for tougher building codes, appliance standards, buy clean, and climate resilience”;
  5. “Reinstate the National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee to immediately start addressing the climate crisis. The National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee was charged with translating the findings of the National Climate Assessment into concrete goals. Senator Klobuchar will reinstate this committee that President Trump let expire”;
  6. “End the Trump Administration’s censoring of climate science. Senator Klobuchar will end Trump Administration efforts to censor climate science through actions like deleting climate-focused websites, removing the phrase “climate change” from reports, and preventing government scientists from attending conferences on climate change.”

On August 7, Klobuchar released her Plan from the Heartland. It includes commitments to expand energy efficiency and clean energy programs in rural America, including biofuel production. Among other things, Klobuchar says she will:

  1. Support “the Rural Energy for America program and Rural Energy Savings program so that farmers and rural communities can access renewable energy solutions that lower their costs.”
  2. “launch a grant program to help rural cooperatives develop energy storage and microgrid projects for renewable energy for generation, transmission and storage. She will also support increased investment in small, distributed wind, solar and biogas projects.”
  3. “establish a Clean Energy bond program to expand clean energy tax incentives.”
  4. “invest in interregional transmission lines and grid improvements to support the development of renewable energy”
  5. “preserve and expand resources for LIHEAP and the Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps households in need reduce energy spending.”
  6. “support the continued expansion of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and increase resources for the Conservation Stewardship Program to help provide farmers the tools they need to protect and enhance natural resources on working agricultural lands.”

Klobuchar released her climate plan on September 1. In it, she pledges to:

  1. “Support a landmark carbon pricing system that does not have a regressive impact on Americans and will help make clean energy production more cost competitive”;
  2. “End federal tax subsidies for fossil fuel exploration and production”;
  3. “Ban new fossil fuel permitting on federal lands and review and restore environmental protections repealed by the Trump Administration”;
  4. “Restore and strengthen the EPA and BLM methane rules”;
  5. “Streamline renewable energy production on federal land”;
  6. “Support research to improve negative emissions technologies”;
  7. “Create a competitive grant program and a new investment tax credit to promote investments in grid improvements and storage”;
  8. “Provide rural electric cooperatives access to technical resources and expertise to overcome the barriers to renewable energy storage and grid improvements based on a bipartisan bill she leads in the Senate”;
  9. “Make a significant investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and bring back the tax credit for electric vehicle purchases”;
  10. “Create a new tax credit for companies that hire workers who had previously depended on the fossil fuel industry for employment. Workers will also be able to take advantage of Senator Klobuchar’s previously announced plan to provide tuition-free one- and two-year community college degrees and technical certifications and expand student loan forgiveness programs to workers in in-demand occupations”.

Campaign Website:

Klobuchar’s campaign website says,

“Amy is deeply committed to tackling the climate crisis and believes that it is an urgent priority for our communities, for our economy and for our planet. She is a co-sponsor of a Green New Deal and has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.  On day one of Amy’s presidency she will get us back into the International Climate Change Agreement. On day two and day three, she will bring back the clean power rules and gas mileage standards that the Obama Administration put into place.  And she will put forward sweeping legislation that provides a landmark investment in clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, provides incentives for tougher building codes, promotes rural renewable energy and development, and promotes ‘buy clean’ policies.”

Public statements:

In her announcement speech on February 11, Klobuchar promised, “in the first 100 days of my administration I will reinstate the clean power rules, the gas mileage standards, and put forth sweeping legislation to invest in green jobs and infrastructure. And on day one, we will rejoin the international climate agreement.”

On February 12, Klobuchar told Anderson Cooper, “I’m in favor of [the Green New Deal] simply because I see it as a framework to jump-start a discussion… I don’t see it as something that we can get rid of all these industries or do this in a few years — that doesn’t make sense to me — or reduce air travel. But what does make sense to me is to start doing concrete things, and put some aspirations out there on climate change.”

On April 22 during a CNN town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, Klobuchar received a question about how she plans to include rural communities in the discussion around climate change. She responded that she would say,

“Look at what’s in front of you. For too long we’ve been talking about this, I think, as a coastal issue. Which is true! Rising sea levels, the Greenland ice sheet was in the news today, hurricanes. But let’s talk about it for the middle of the country where we need the political support…. This is what we see: floods all over Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri…. Or you look at the wildfires in Colorado or Arizona, or you think of that dad in Northern California outside of Paradise who is driving his little girl in the car, with their house presumably burning behind them, and the flames lapping over their car and he’s singing to her, singing to calm her down. Climate change isn’t happening 100 years from now, it’s happening right now.”

At the CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall on September 4, Klobuchar told the audience she was not in favor of a fracking ban because, “I see natural gas as a transitional fuel.” She pledged to review all fracking permits within her first 100 days.

History:

After the release of the IPCC’s 1.5 degrees report in October 2018, Klobuchar took to the floor of the Senate and gave a speech on the importance of addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Following the release of the National Climate Assessment in November 2018, Klobuchar spoke with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” and called for a renewed commitment to the Paris climate agreement, decried the Trump administration’s rollback of gas mileage standards, and called for the use of EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

Klobuchar co-sponsored Senator Markey’s Green New Deal resolution, saying, “Investing in clean green energy is our future. We must do it for our climate and we must lead in the world.”

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Sen. Bernie Sanders

Climate Plans:

On August 22, Sanders unveiled his plan for a Green New Deal. The plan lays out a strategy to “reduce domestic emissions by at least 71 percent by 2030 and reduce emissions among less industrialized nations by 36 percent by 2030 — the total equivalent of reducing our domestic emissions by 161 percent,” with the goal of reaching  “complete decarbonization by at least 2050.” 

Sanders’ plan has three parts:

  1. Transform our Energy System to 100% Renewable Energy and Create 20 million Jobs
  2. End the Greed of the Fossil Fuel Industry and Hold them Accountable
  3. Rebuild our Economy and Ensure Justice for Frontline Communities and a Just Transition for Workers

To accomplish these things, Sanders will:

  1. Have the EPA institute a federal renewable energy standard to reach “100 percent energy efficiency and sustainable energy by 2030 at the latest”;
  2. Invest over $2.5 trillion in renewable energy, energy storage, and grid modernization efforts;
  3. Create federal grant programs to provide low- and moderate-income families and small businesses with trillions of dollars for weatherization upgrades, building retrofits and electrification;
  4. “Fully electrify and decarbonize our transportation sector” by 2030 by providing low- and moderate-income families and small businesses funds to trade in fossil-fuel vehicles for electric cars, replacing all buses and shipping trucks with electric alternatives, and building a regional high-speed rail network;
  5. Create 20 million “good paying, union jobs with strong benefits and safety standards in steel and auto manufacturing, construction, energy efficiency retrofitting, coding and server farms, and renewable power plants.” 
  6. Spend $1.3 trillion to ensure that workers in the fossil fuel and other carbon intensive industries receive, “Up to five years of unemployment insurance, a wage guarantee, job placement assistance, relocation assistance, health care, and a pension based on their previous salary. If workers would like to receive training for a different career path, they will receive either a four-year college education or vocational job training with living expenses provided. They will also be eligible for health care through Medicare for All. We will fully fund tenant-based Housing Choice Vouchers to ensure housing assistance to provide safe and affordable housing. If a worker is ready to retire, they may opt for pension support and access to health care through Medicare for All.”
  7. Reinstate the Civilian Conservation Corps “to provide good-paying jobs building green infrastructure, planting billions of trees and other native species, preventing flood and soil erosion, rebuilding wetlands and coral, cleaning up plastic pollution, constructing and maintaining accessible paths, trails, and fire breaks; rehabilitating and removing abandoned structures, and eradicating invasive species and flora disease; and other natural methods of carbon pollution sequestration”;
  8. Invest $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund to “help countries of the Global South with climate adaptation efforts”;
  9. Re-enter the Paris Agreement and achieve “binding and enforceable multilateral goals to avoid the most catastrophic results of climate change”; 
  10. “Keep fossil fuels on public lands in the ground” by immediately ending “all new and existing fossil fuel extraction on federal public lands”;
  11. Ban offshore drilling, fracking, and mountaintop removal coal mining;
  12. “End all new federal fossil fuel infrastructure permits” and “repeal Trump’s Executive Orders (Orders 13867 and 13868) which fast-tracked construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and revoke all federal permits for those projects”;
  13. “Ban imports and exports of fossil fuels…to end incentives for extraction around the world.”

Sanders held a Climate Crisis Town Hall on that same day in Chico, CA, where he presented this plan to residents of Paradise, CA.

On August 14, Sanderstook the No KXL pledge. By doing so, he committed to:

  1. “take executive action on Day One to… revoke the existing presidential permits issued unilaterally by President Trump for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, sending both projects back to relevant federal agencies to undergo legitimate environmental review and Tribal consultations”;
  2. “direct all federal agencies (State Dept., FERC, Army Corps) to submit these two projects, as well as all new pipeline and energy infrastructure projects to a true climate test, and reject permits for any project that would exacerbate our climate crisis”;
  3. “protect the property rights of farmers and ranchers from eminent domain abuse, and to honor the treaties the U.S. Government has signed with sovereign Tribal Nations”.

He is also one of three candidates to oppose the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota.

Campaign Website:

Sanders campaign website includes a page titled “Combat Climate Change and Pass a Green New Deal.” It says, “Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet. Yet the giant, multi-national fossil fuel corporations have spent hundreds of millions of dollars furthering their greed and protecting their profits at the expense of our climate and our future. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it clear that if we fail to substantially cut the amount of carbon in our atmosphere in under 11 years, the human, environmental, and economic costs will be severe and irreversible…. When we are in the White House, we will:

  1. Pass a Green New Deal to save American families money and generate millions of jobs by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100% energy efficiency and sustainable energy. A Green New Deal will protect workers and the communities in which they live to ensure a transition to family-sustaining wage, union jobs;
  2. Invest in infrastructure and programs to protect the frontline communities most vulnerable to extreme climate impacts like wildfires, sea level rise, drought, floods, and extreme weather like hurricanes;
  3. Reduce carbon pollution emissions from our transportation system by building out high-speed passenger rail, electric vehicles, and public transit;
  4. Ban fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure and keep oil, gas, and coal in the ground by banning fossil fuel leases on public lands;
  5. End exports of coal, natural gas, and crude oil.”

Sanders has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge to “not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or SEC-named executives of fossil fuel companies — companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.”

Public statements:

In a video announcing his candidacy on February 19, Sanders listed climate change as one of his reasons for running:

“Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice…. I’m running for president because we need to make policy decisions based on science, not politics. We need a president who understands that climate change is real, is an existential threat to our country and the entire planet, and that we can generate massive job creation by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”

On a March 1 appearance on ABC’s “The View”, Sanders was asked a question about climate change and said,

“In my own personal opinion, I’ve been talking to scientists all over the world, if we do not get our act together and take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel into energy efficiency and sustainable energy, the planet that we are going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren – Jane and I have seven grandchildren – will become increasingly unhealthy and uninhabitable. Now given that reality, it seems to me the job we have to do is to immediately grasp the magnitude of the problem and transform our energy system to save the planet…. You cannot go too far on the issue of climate change! The future of the planet is at stake!”

At a town hall in Bethlehem, PA on Fox News on April 15, responding to a question about national security Sanders said,

“I’ll tell you what else in my view is a national security issue. We have got to reject as a nation Trump’s idea that climate change is a hoax. I’m sure you’re familiar with the scientific reports that tell us we have all of 12 years to significantly cut carbon emissions or else there will be irreparable damage to the United States and countries all over the world. We have a moral responsibility in my view to transform our energy system and leave this planet healthy and habitable for our children and our grandchildren. And by the way, when we do that we create millions of good paying jobs…. In my city of Burlington Vermont, which is the largest city in the state of Vermont, I believe that all of our energy is now renewable. That’s something that I started way back when I was mayor, and other cities are doing the same! But here is the point, I happen to believe that we should phase out, not eliminate it tomorrow, but phase out nuclear power plants. But here is the main point. The main point is if we do not combat climate change I fear very much the kind of world we are leaving to our kids. More drought, more flooding, more extreme weather disturbances, more rising ocean levels. And when those things happen, they become a national security issue because people migrate! If I’m living in the Middle East or someplace and I can’t grow food on my land, I’m going to pick up and leave and that causes conflict.”

On April 22 when a student inquired about what specific policies he supports to get to carbon neutrality and support a just transition, Sanders said,

“Here’s where we are. The scientists who know the issue the best, some months ago made it clear that if we do not significantly transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energies this planet and our country will suffer irreparable damage. So to me the issue of moving very aggressively on climate change is a moral issue, because it speaks to whether or not we are going to leave this country and our planet – and I’ve got seven grandchildren including 3 here in New Hampshire – in a way that is healthy and habitable. And if we do not act aggressively it will be a disaster for the entire planet and the United States.To answer your question, what does that mean? It means that we have got to take on the fossil fuel industry and make it very clear that we are moving away from fossil fuel and at the same time not blaming those people who work in the coal industry or the gas industry or the oil industry. All they are trying to do is feed their families, and we support that! So we, in all of the legislation we have many many many billions of dollars to go into those communities to help workers get the training and the education that they need to get jobs that will pay them as much or even more.At the end of the day this is what we’ve got to do:

  1. We’ve got to move aggressively towards energy efficiency. That means we can create – and one of the points that the Green New Deal makes – is we have the potential to create millions of good paying jobs as we transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. There are buildings all over New England, homes all over New England, that are wasting a tremendous amount of energy. We can weatherize those homes. I’ve been in homes in Vermont where the fuel bill went down 50% because people got the insulation, the windows, the roofing that they needed. Millions of people can be helped in that respect;
  2. We should invest very significantly in solar and in wind. I know the president thinks that wind turbines cause cancer… only person in the world who happens to believe that, but we can move aggressively towards wind and solar;
  3. We have got to rethink our transportation system and build the kind of state of the art rail system that our country needs, which will help us transport people and cargo in a much more non-polluting way.

The bottom line is this is an issue that we cannot run away from. And of all my disagreements with Trump on virtually every issue, the idea that he continues to talk about climate change as a hoax or not real is so dangerous and so harmful, not only to our country but the world.The United States of America under a Sanders presidency will lead the world in transforming our energy system, create millions of jobs, create a less polluting society. And that is something we have no choice, that is something we have to do.”

At the MoveOn Big Ideas Forum on June 1, Sanders told the crowd, “Here is my dream, you want a big idea? Here is a very big idea: maybe, just maybe, countries around the world that are spending $1.5 trillion on weapons of destruction to kill each other can band together and use that money to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy and energy efficiency and save the planet, and in the process create millions of good paying jobs. That’s my big idea!”

On July 16, Sanders told Robert Acosta during a Washington Post Live interview,

“If you’re a farmer in Iowa and you’re looking at the climate out there, and you see what’s happening in Europe, in India, and Australia, you know that despite what Trump believes climate change is not a hoax. It is in fact a very very serious reality for the planet. And I want this country to lead the world, not to deny the reality of climate change!”

“My vision as president, I know this is a radical vision and it may not succeed, but right now what the scientists are telling us is we have less than 12 years to radically transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy or else there will be irreparable damage to our country and the world. So as president of the United States what I would do, don’t know that I would succeed, is go to Russia, go to China, go to Brazil, go to India, and say maybe instead of spending $1.5 trillion every year on weapons of destruction designed to kill each other maybe we should use those resources to fight our common enemy which is climate change… that has got to be the goal. And by the way, as someone who supports the Green New Deal, when we move to the transformation of our energy system we create millions and millions of good-paying jobs, leading the world in wind and solar and other sustainable technologies.”

At the second Democratic debate on July 30, Sanders said,  “I get a little bit tired of Democrats afraid of big ideas. Republicans are not afraid of big ideas… please don’t tell me we cannot take on the fossil fuel industry. Nothing happens unless we do that. Here is the bottom line: [what] do you do with an industry that knowingly for billions of dollars in short-term profits is destroying this planet? I say that is criminal activity, that cannot be allowed to continue…. We have got to be super aggressive if we love our children and we want to leave them a planet that is healthy and habitable.”

On August 22, Sanders held a Climate Crisis Town Hall in Chico, CA, where he presented his plan for addressing climate change to residents of Paradise, CA. 

History:

In 2015 Sanders joined Senators Merkley and Markey to introduce the American Clean Energy Investment Act, which would have made permanent tax credits for clean energy, incentivized energy efficiency upgrades and expanded access to electric vehicles.

Sanders co-sponsored Sen. Merkley’s Keep It In the Ground Act in 2015 and 2017 and his 100 by 50 Act in 2017.

During the 2016 campaign, Sanders backed a national ban on fracking.  

On December 3, 2018, he held a virtual town hall called Solving Our Climate Crisis that featured noted environmental leaders such as Bill McKibben, Van Jones, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Republican mayor Dale Ross, who successfully transitioned his town to 100% renewable energy.

Sanders co-sponsored Senator Markey’s Green New Deal resolution, writing on Twitter, “Climate change is an existential disaster facing the entire world. We must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. A Green New Deal can save the planet and create millions of new jobs.”

Tom Steyer

Climate Plans:

On July 25, Steyer released his “Justice-Centered Climate Plan”, in which he pledges, “On day one of my presidency, I will declare the climate crisis a national emergency. I will direct each agency in the administration to take action to curtail the climate crisis.”

“In addition to taking bold executive actions, I will challenge Congress to pass vital legislation to enact a Green New Deal and provide additional funding to protect the country against climate and weather-related natural disasters. If Congress refuses to act expeditiously, I will not hesitate to use the emergency powers of the presidency to protect the American public from the climate crisis, just as I would use those powers to protect our country from a hostile military invasion.” 

The plan has five organizing pillars, each with a set of targets:

  • Justice-based pollution reduction targets and actions
    1. Eliminate fossil fuel pollution from all sectors to achieve a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero global warming pollution by no later than 2045; 
    2. Eliminate asthma-causing and toxic air pollution from diesel engines, power plants, and other major sources no later than 2030;
    3. Triple federal funding for climate science; research, development, and deployment of advanced clean technology for manufacturing, aviation, agriculture, biofuels, and soil health; and advanced research and warning systems for extreme weather;
    4. Ensure all Americans can access safe, convenient, and zero-emission transportation by accelerating the transition toward zero-tailpipe-emission cars, trucks, and buses; increasing the availability of electric vehicle charging infrastructure; and making forms of active transportation, such as walking, safer; 
    5. Ensure affordability of energy, transportation, food, and clean water by rapidly scaling up energy efficiency standards, deploying smart financing for community adoption of clean technology, and providing bill and income assistance for lower-income individuals and families.
  • Building a people-powered economy
    1. Call on Congress to fully fund the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, which will create 1 million jobs for young Americans, underemployed people, and displaced workers, and will help diversify state and local economies currently dependent on fossil fuel revenues;
    2. Issue $250 billion over the course of ten years in new National Healthy Communities Climate Bonds;
    3. Appoint a cabinet-level officer to lead and coordinate federal, state, and local efforts to meet our climate targets and establish a high-level task force of mayors, governors, tribal leaders, and community representatives.
  • Transform the Extraction Economy into a Regenerative Economy
    1. End all forms of government giveaways to big polluters, including unlimited and unpriced global warming pollution, direct subsidies, tax breaks, lax and under-enforced environmental and worker protections, and the sale of public resources at giveaway prices;
    2. Keep publicly-owned oil, coal, and gas in the ground by stopping the expansion of fossil fuel leases and establishing a careful process to wind down federal onshore and offshore fossil fuel production;
    3. Invest $50 billion to ensure former fossil fuel workers and their communities have the healthcare, wages, and benefits necessary to thrive in a cleaner, more inclusive economy;
  • Invest in America
    1. Dedicate $2 trillion in federal funding over ten years, mobilizing trillions more in private capital, to long-overdue investments in clean transportation, water, operational systems, the energy grid, farms and rural development, building retrofits, maintenance, affordable housing, universal broadband, and more;
    2. End the build-out of new fossil fuel infrastructure, only approve new federal infrastructure permits and investment for projects that do not hinder our progress towards achieving net-zero global warming pollution by 2045, require projects that include federal investments to adopt fair labor standards, institute a federal “Buy Clean” standard, and incentivize innovation in clean manufacturing and energy;
    3. Require lenders, pension funds, institutional investors, and publicly traded companies to disclose both their risky fossil fuel holdings and the risks climate change and extreme weather pose to their businesses, and to internalize the costs of climate harms associated with their investments;
    4. Prioritize our local economies and American businesses by supporting the creation of Community Green Banks, establishing Green New Deal Investment Zones, and developing banking, investment, and insurance requirements that will shift funding from fossil fuels toward what actually matters — clean air, healthy families, and rapid commutes;
    5. Implement federal and state incentives to establish the U.S. as the top exporter of clean energy technology globally — clean energy built in America serving the world.
  • Building a climate-secure America
    1. Improve our systems for disaster prevention, resiliency, response, and recovery through community-led planning processes; mutual aid commitments among communities; investments in climate-smart mobile and distributed power, food, water, and transportation infrastructure; and by establishing and training a full-time Civilian Climate Corps;
    2. Join the international Powering Past Coal Alliance, work to end global finance for coal-fired power plants, and strengthen and improve accountability procedures for enforcing human rights and environmental requirements for projects that receive funding through the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other international finance mechanisms;
    3. Support other nations to achieve prosperity without fossil fuels by meeting and increasing our investment in international clean energy and sustainable development systems, eliminating our demand for fossil fuels, leading a worldwide transition to clean energy, and using the global purchasing power of the United States and international trade agreements to send a clear signal that the fossil fuel era is coming to an end and the clean energy age has begun.

On September 27, Steyer released his International Plan for Climate Justice. In it, he pledges to renew global leadership by:

  1. “Recommitting fully to the Paris Agreement”;
  2. “Meeting our pledged Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of a 26-28% reduction in climate pollution by 2025 compared to 2005 levels through implementation of the Justice-Centered Climate Plan”;
  3. “Releasing, immediately upon gaining office, a strengthened NDC of at least 40% reduction in emissions by 2030, as should be delivered to the 2020 COP”;
  4. “Paying in arrears the $2 billion pledged by President Obama to the Green Climate Fund, and pledging at least $1 billion per year to this fund to help recipients build resilience to climate impacts, avoid future carbon lock-in, and develop sustainably”; 
  5. “Joining the Carbon Neutrality Coalition, a pioneering group of nations that pledged to work together to meet the scientific goals of the Paris Agreement: full economy decarbonization by mid-century”;
  6. “Ending the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the United States and instituting a ban on fossil fuel exports from US ports”;
  7. “Installing in each American embassy in the top-20 polluting nations a Special Assistant for Climate and Energy to foster economic cooperation and political momentum for collaboration of the clean energy transformation”;
  8. “Co-founding a Standing Committee on the Climate Crisis at the G7 and the G20 to collaboratively address the risk of climate change to global financial stability”;
  9. “Making all non-combat military operations, facilities, and contracts carbon-neutral by 2030”;

In addition, he pledges to strengthen global ambition and collaboration by:

  1. “Committing to renewed, ongoing investment of $20 billion per year for ten years to the Green Climate Fund and the Global Green New Deal Fund, a new US-led global climate finance vessel to catalyze new private capital into green technologies and projects, particularly in rapidly developing nations. This total of $200 billion for new climate funding will leverage private capital and end the delays and gridlock to climate financing while ensuring that the global transition, like the domestic transition, is just and equitable”;
  2. “Adopting a federal “Buy Clean” standard and adopting border carbon adjustments for imported goods to ensure that the United States’ purchasing power not only incentivizes decarbonization domestically, but on a level playing field worldwide”;
  3. “Submitting the Kigali Amendment to the Senate for ratification and investing in safer alternative refrigerants that are developed domestically”;
  4. “Creating a Low Carbon Aviation Standard and recruiting other nations to join suit, requiring a 40% reduction in emissions intensity of aviation fuels by 2030, backed by a market-based credit trading mechanism”;
  5. “Creating a global low carbon fuel standard for international shipping to reduce emissions intensity by 40% by 2030”;
  6. “Stopping deforestation through results-based payments for conservation and ecosystem services, improving forest management practices for ecosystem health and carbon, and promoting reforestation and afforestation by setting a goal to incentivize the planting of 1.2 trillion trees by 2040 and enforcing accountability mechanisms against nations wantonly degrading or destroying forestlands”; 

Finally, he pledges to promote global equity by:

  1. “Designating an Intergenerational Equity Commission that would provide a formal place at the negotiating table within the UNFCCC to youth representatives from all nations. Joining as part of their nations’ delegation, these youth commissioners would work with each other to present recommendations to negotiators on the state of ambition from global youth”;
  2. “Developing, with partner nations, a new global framework to recognize climate refugees and internally displaced people, and providing financial incentives to other nations to aid in the resettlement and integration those displaced”.

On August 15, Steyertook the No KXL pledge. By doing so he committed to:

  1. “take executive action on Day One to… revoke the existing presidential permits issued unilaterally by President Trump for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, sending both projects back to relevant federal agencies to undergo legitimate environmental review and Tribal consultations”;
  2. “direct all federal agencies (State Dept., FERC, Army Corps) to submit these two projects, as well as all new pipeline and energy infrastructure projects to a true climate test, and reject permits for any project that would exacerbate our climate crisis”;
  3. “protect the property rights of farmers and ranchers from eminent domain abuse, and to honor the treaties the U.S. Government has signed with sovereign Tribal Nations”.

Campaign Website:

Steyer’s campaign websitebreaks down his climate justice and international climate policies.

Public statements:

In a March 28 interview with Hill.TV, Steyer talked about his perspective on the Green New Deal, saying,

“I give [Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ed Markey] enormous credit for what they did. They took a gigantic issue in front of the American people, which is the sustainability of our country and the safety and health of every American, and tried to put on the table something that is commensurate with the problem. Do I agree with every part of it? No, absolutely not. It’s a first draft, a discussion document, that I think is a dramatic reframing of the problem…. From my standpoint, I view the Green New Deal as a way that has been extremely successful of drawing attention to a gigantic problem and reframing it…. what I see is people trying to move the ball forward in an important way representing the overwhelming bulk of Americans…”

On September 3, Steyer held his own Climate Crisis Town Hall in Oakland, Calif., at which he promised: 

“On day one I would declare a climate emergency. We’ve waited 28 years for the congress of the United States to do something and they haven’t done anything. I think officially I’m going to give them 100 days to pass some version of the Green New Deal, but actually I’m going to declare a climate emergency. What does that really mean?

  • It means we can set standards and regulations. We’ll have all clean [electricity] generation by 2040. It means we’re going to have building standards for net neutral-buildings by 2030. It means we can set standards for new car sales, all clean by 2030.
  • It also means we can undo what Trump has been doing: No drilling on public lands. I’d make sure we’d get rid of the permits for these pipelines. There is no reason at this point to build fossil fuel infrastructure, it’s insane!

… From my standpoint this is job number one for the United States of America for me as President.”

History:

In 2013 Steyer foundedNextGen America, a nonprofit group organizing students and young activists on college campuses across the country to vote for politicians who support climate action.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren:

Climate Plans:

On April 15, Warren outlined her plan for public lands, saying,

“Any serious effort to address climate change must include public lands — fossil fuel extraction in these areas is responsible for nearly a quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The Trump administration, with its casual denial of science and apparent amnesia about massive crises like the BP oil spill, has also proposed opening nearly the entire U.S. coastline to seismic testing and offshore drilling. It is wrong to prioritize corporate profits over the health and safety of our local communities.That’s why on my first day as president, 

  1. I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling — a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands; 
  2. I’d also reinstate the methane pollution rule to limit existing oil and gas projects from releasing harmful gases that poison our air; and 
  3. reinstitute the clean water rule to protect our lakes, rivers, and streams, and the drinking water they provide.

And it’s not enough to end our public lands’ contribution to climate change. We have an enormous opportunity to make them a part of the climate solution, and for both economic and environmental reasons, we should take it…. As President, I will set a goal of providing 10% of our overall electricity generation from renewable sources offshore or on public lands. That’s nearly ten times what we are currently generating. We can achieve this goal while prioritizing sites with low impact on local ecology but high potential for renewable energy generation.

My administration will make it a priority to expedite leases and incentivize development in existing designated areas, and share royalties from renewable generation with states and local communities to help promote economic development and reduce local dependence on fossil fuel revenues.” 

Sharon Buccino, a senior adviser to the NRDC Action Fund, was quoted in a New York Times story on the policy, calling Ms. Warren’s plan a “responsible and visionary” way “to manage and protect our priceless lands and waters from exploitation and destruction.”

On May 15, Warren introduced her Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act, a plan to have the military lead the fight against climate change. It has five main planks:

  1. Have the Pentagon achieve net zero carbon emissions for all its non-combat bases and infrastructure by 2030, consistent with the Green New Deal;
  2. Create a dedicated source of funding to adapt our bases in the United States and around the world by having defense contractors that have not achieved net zero carbon emissions to pay a small fee — one percent of the total value of their contracts;
  3. Appoint a senior official within the Defense Department and each of the military services focused on climate change;
  4. Invest billions of dollars into a new, ten-year research and development program at the Defense Department focused on microgrids and advanced energy storage;
  5. Have the Pentagon to produce an annual report evaluating the climate vulnerability of every U.S. military base at home and abroad.

On June 4, Warren outlined her Green Manufacturing Plan, in which she pledges to, “Invest $2 trillion over the next ten years in green research, manufacturing, and exporting — linking American innovation directly to American jobs, and helping achieve the ambitious targets of the Green New Deal.” The plan has three components:

  1. A Green Apollo Program that will provide “$400 billion in funding over the next ten years for clean energy research and development — more than ten times what we invested in the last ten years”;
  2. A Green Industrial Mobilization that will use “a $1.5 trillion federal procurement commitment over the next ten years to purchase American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy products for federal, state, and local use, and for export”;
  3. A Green Marshall Plan that will create “a new federal office dedicated to selling American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy technology abroad and a $100 billion commitment to assisting countries to purchase and deploy this technology.”

On July 10, Warren outlined her Climate Risk Disclosure plan. The goal of this plan is to reset the financial valuation of fossil fuel companies. As the plan states,

“if the world makes the changes necessary to meet the emissions goals of the Paris climate accord, at least 82% of global coal reserves, 49% of global gas reserves, and 33% of global oil reserves will have to go unused the next 30 years. The market is not appropriately pricing in this risk, and it’s creating what former Vice President Gore has called a ‘carbon bubble’ — an inflation of the value of fossil fuel companies that could burst and threaten the financial system…. My plan will push more investors to move their money out of the fossil fuel industry, accelerating the transition to clean energy. It will also demonstrate to investors that — if nothing else — climate change represents a serious risk to their money and they need to demand global action to address it. And it will make clear that climate change represents not just an existential environmental threat to the planet, but a serious threat to our financial system — one that we need to head off now before it costs people their homes, jobs, and savings like the 2008 crisis.”

The plan accomplishes this by requiring “the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue rules that make every public company disclose detailed information, including the likely effect on the company if climate change continues at its current pace and the likely effect on the company if the world successfully restricts greenhouse gas emissions to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.” 

On July 29, Warren released her plan on how to address climate change via America’s trade policies. Prior to entering into any trade agreements with America, countries will need to, among other things: 

  1. Be a party to the Paris Climate agreement and have a national plan that has been independently verified to put the country on track to reduce its emissions consistent with the long-term emissions goals in that agreement.
  2. Eliminate all domestic fossil fuel subsidies.

In addition, Warren promises to “push to secure a multilateral agreement to protect domestic green policies like subsidies for green products and preferential treatment for environmentally sustainable energy production from WTO challenges. 

And because big corporations will move their production to the countries with the weakest greenhouse gas emissions standards — undermining global efforts to address climate change and penalizing countries that are doing their part — I will impose a border carbon adjustment so imported goods that these firms make using carbon-intensive processes are charged a fee to equalize the costs borne by companies playing by the rules.”

On August 7, Warren released her plan for A New Farm Economy which describes her commitment to “lead a full-out effort to decarbonize the agricultural sector by investing in our farmers and giving them the tools, research, and training they need to transform the sector — so that we can achieve the objectives of the Green New Deal to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.”

The plan includes:

  1. Increasing the Conservation Stewardship Program’s payments for sustainable farming practices from “around $1 billion today to $15 billion annually — and expanding the types of practices eligible for compensation — so that every farmer who wants to use their land to fight climate change can do so.”
  2. Creating a farmer-led Innovation Fund that will fund “pioneering new methods of sustainable farming, like agroforestry.”
  3. Reinvesting in land grant universities and encouraging them to “focus their agricultural efforts in part on evaluating farmers’ ideas to decarbonize the agricultural sector and training a new generation of farmers.”

On September 3, Warren released her 100% Clean Energy plan. She sets three ambitious targets:

  1. By 2028, 100% zero-carbon pollution for all new commercial and residential buildings;
  2. By 2030, 100% zero emissions for all new light-duty passenger vehicles, medium-duty trucks, and all buses;
  3. By 2035, 100% renewable and zero-emission energy in electricity generation, with an interim target of 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030.

To accomplish these things, a Warren administration would:

  1. “Require utilities to achieve 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030, with strong interim targets along the way, and to achieve all-clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy in electricity generation by 2035. We’ll also establish regulations to retire coal power within a decade”;
  2. “Overhaul the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is tasked with regulating the U.S. electrical grid, replacing it instead with a Federal Renewable Energy Commission. The revised commission’s mission will be to reduce greenhouse gas pollution — and we’ll slam shut the revolving door with industry to ensure it is responsive not to fossil fuel interests but to our communities”;
  3. “Require federal agencies to achieve 100% clean energy in their domestic power purchases by the end of my first term”;
  4. “Set strict vehicle emissions standards that will become progressively tighter every year, reaching a requirement for 100% zero-emissions for all new light- and medium-duty vehicles by 2030. At the same time, I’ll establish a Clean Fuel Standard to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting lower-carbon alternative fuels”;
  5. “Provide federal investments to grow domestic zero-emission vehicle manufacturing and reinforce the assembly plants and supply base, including battery manufacturing. I’ll also invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, including ensuring that every federal interstate highway rest stop hosts a fast-charging station by the end of my first term in office”;
  6. “Create a national zero-carbon building standard by 2023”;
  7. “Establish a national initiative to upgrade building energy efficiency, offering tax credits, generous and inclusive financing, and direct federal funding to put Americans to work reducing the carbon output of existing homes and businesses, including subsidizing weatherization for low-income households — and I’ll meet Governor Inslee’s target of refurbishing 4% of houses and buildings every year until the job is done”;

On October 9, Warren released her environmental justice plan. It has six parts:

  1. No community left behind;
  2. Worker protections;
  3. Prioritizing environmental justice;
  4. Clean water and clean energy investments;
  5. Protecting vulnerable groups during climate disasters;
  6. Holding Polluters Accountable.

In her plan, Warren pledges to:

  1. “Implement an equity screen for climate investments … the government must prioritize resources to support vulnerable communities and remediate historic injustices. My friend Governor Jay Inslee rightly challenged us to fund the most vulnerable communities first, and both New York and California have passed laws to direct funding specifically to frontline and fenceline communities. The federal government should do the same. I’ll direct one-third of my proposed climate investment into the most vulnerable communities — a commitment that would funnel at least $1 trillion into these areas over the next decade”;
  2. “Build wealth in frontline communities…. My housing plan includes a first-of-its-kind down-payment assistance program that provides grants to long-term residents of formerly redlined communities so that they can buy homes in the neighborhood of their choice and start to build wealth, beginning to reverse that damage”;
  3. “Honor our commitment to fossil fuel workers…. I’m committed to providing job training and guaranteed wage and benefit parity for workers transitioning into new industries. And for those Americans who choose not to find new employment and wish to retire with dignity, we’ll ensure full financial security, including promised pensions and early retirement benefits”;
  4. “Force fossil fuel companies to honor their obligations. As a matter of justice, we should tighten bankruptcy laws to prevent coal and other fossil fuel companies from evading their responsibility to their workers and to the communities that they have helped to pollute. In the Senate, I have fought to improve the standing of coal worker pensions and benefits in bankruptcy — as president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these changes a reality”;
  5. “Address high energy cost burdens. Low-income families, particularly in rural areas, are spending too much of their income on energy, often the result of older or mobile homes that are not weatherized or that lack energy efficient upgrades. I’ve committed to meet Governor Inslee’s goal of retrofitting 4% of U.S. buildings annually to increase energy efficiency — and we’ll start that national initiative by prioritizing frontline and fenceline communities…. Energy retrofits can be a large source of green jobs, and I’m committed to ensuring that these are good jobs, with full federal labor protections and the right to organize”;
  6. “Support community power. Consumer-owned energy cooperatives, many of which were established to electrify rural areas during the New Deal, serve an estimated 42 million people across our country. While some co-ops are beginning to transition their assets to renewable energy resources, too many are locked into long-term contracts that make them dependent on coal and other dirty fuels for their power. To speed the transition to clean energy, my administration will offer assistance to write down debt and restructure loans to help cooperatives get out of long-term coal contracts, and provide additional low- or no-cost financing for zero-carbon electricity generation and transmission projects for cooperatives via the Rural Utilities Service”;
  7. “Protect local equities…. I’ll make additional federal subsidies or tax benefits for large utility projects contingent on strong Community Benefits Agreements, which should include requirements for prevailing wages and collective bargaining rights. And I’ll insist on a clawback provision if a company doesn’t hold up its end of the deal. If developers work with communities to ensure that everyone benefits from clean energy development, we will be able to reduce our emissions faster”;
  8. “Invest in pre-disaster mitigation. For every dollar invested in mitigation, the government and communities save $6 overall…. As president, I’ll invest in programs that help vulnerable communities build resiliency by quintupling [FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program’s] funding”;
  9. “Exercise all the oversight tools of the federal government. A Warren Administration will encourage the EPA and Department of Justice to aggressively go after corporate polluters, particularly in cases of environmental discrimination. We need real consequences for corporate polluters that break our environmental law. That means steep fines, which we will reinvest in impacted communities. And under my Corporate Executive Accountability Act, we’ll press for criminal penalties for executives when their companies hurt people through criminal negligence”;
  10. “Use the power of the courts. Thanks to a Supreme Court decision, companies are often let completely off the hook, even when their operations inflict harm on thousands of victims each year. I’ll work with Congress to create a private right of action for environmental harm at the federal level, allowing individuals and communities impacted by environmental discrimination to sue for damages and hold corporate polluters accountable”;
  11. “Hold the finance industry accountable for its role in the climate crisis. Financial institutions and the insurance industry underwrite and fund fossil fuel investments around the world, and can play a key role in stopping the climate crisis…. To accelerate the transition to clean energy, my Climate Risk Disclosure Act would require banks and other companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and price their exposure to climate risk into their valuations, raising public awareness of just how dependent our economy is on fossil fuels. And let me be clear: in a Warren Administration, they will no longer be allowed to shift that burden to the rest of us”.

On August 13, Warrentook the No KXL pledge. By doing so, she committed to:

  1. “take executive action on Day One to… revoke the existing presidential permits issued unilaterally by President Trump for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, sending both projects back to relevant federal agencies to undergo legitimate environmental review and Tribal consultations”;
  2. “direct all federal agencies (State Dept., FERC, Army Corps) to submit these two projects, as well as all new pipeline and energy infrastructure projects to a true climate test, and reject permits for any project that would exacerbate our climate crisis”;
  3. “protect the property rights of farmers and ranchers from eminent domain abuse, and to honor the treaties the U.S. Government has signed with sovereign Tribal Nations.”

She is also one of three candidates to oppose the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota.

Campaign Website:

Warren’s campaign websitehas a page highlighting how climate factors into her various plans.

Warren has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge to “not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or SEC-named executives of fossil fuel companies — companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.”

Public statements:

When Warren announced her candidacy for president on February 11, she said, “When it comes to climate change, our very existence is at stake. But Washington refuses to lift a finger without permission from the fossil fuel companies. That’s dangerous and it’s wrong!… Stop stalling on spending money, real money, on infrastructure, on clean energy and a Green New Deal!”

On June 6, Warren talked about her green manufacturing plan at a town hall in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She told the audience, “right now we’ve got a climate crisis in this country and in this world. It threatens us all. Worldwide there’s about a $23 trillion market for fighting back against climate change, and that’s going to mean a lot of research, a lot of innovation, and a lot of manufacturing to push back against that. My plan is to make America the leader in that fight [in three ways]. 

  1. [First,] we double down, triple down, go 10-fold on research from where it’s been before and we say to anyone that wants to use that research ‘Good for you! You can do it! But you have to produce the products right here in the United States of America. You have to build those jobs here. If American tax payers are the ones who are going to foot the bill for the research, then by golly it’s going to produce good American jobs right here.’ That’s one part;
  2. One more part is a commitment to spend about $1.5 trillion to make our government go green. It’s buy the products, and here again it’s going to be all buy american. We’re going to bring in new cars, we’re going to change what happens with our buildings, and look what that does. It not only helps on the climate front, but it creates demand, demand to keep those factories open, demand to expand those factories and those jobs;
  3. And there’s one more part to it. And that is – look, even if we manage to go entirely carbon neutral by 2030, we’re only about 20% of the world on this. There’s another 80%, and that’s where the worldwide demand for change is. So huge market, $23 trillion market. Right now the chinese spend a hundred times what we spend in the United States marketing their manufactured products around the world. I say we’re going to spend money in the United States to market American products around the world. That’s how we’re going to …. make about 1.2 million new jobs. Jobs in manufacturing that are going to be good union jobs. The kind of jobs on which people can build a future.”

At the first Democratic presidential debate on June 26, Warren was one of four candidates on stage to name climate change as the top geopolitical threat facing the United States.

At the CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall on September 4, Warren told moderator Chris Cuomo, “I get that people are trying to find the part that they can work on and what can they do. And I’m in favor of that and I’m going to support [that]. But understand: this is exactly what the fossil fuel industry hopes we’re all talking about…. They want to be able to stir up a lot of controversy around your lightbulbs, around your straws, and around your cheeseburgers, when 70% of the pollution, the carbon we’re throwing into the air comes from three industries [transportation, energy, and construction]. We can set our targets and say by 2028, 2030, and 2035 no more. Now the other 30% we’ve still got  to work on. We don’t stop at 70%! But the point is that is where we need to focus.”

History:

Warren co-sponsored Jeff Merkley’s Keep It In the Ground Act in 2015 and 2017.

In September 2018 Warren introduced a bill that would require public companies to disclose the risks climate change poses to their operations. Prior to that, she had been criticized for her lack of leadership on the issue.

Warren co-sponsored Senator Markey’s Green New Deal resolution, saying, “If we want to live in a world with clean air and water, we have to take real action to combat climate change now. I’m proud to join Senator Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on a Green New Deal resolution to fight for our planet and our kids’ futures.”

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Andrew Yang

Climate Plans:

On August 26, Andrew Yang released his climate plan. It has five key parts:

  1. “Build a sustainable economy by transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, upgrading our infrastructure, and improving the way we farm and use land. Public financing options will allow individuals to make the right decisions for their families”;
  2. “Build a sustainable world…. It’s time to activate the American imagination and work ethic to provide the innovation and technology that will power the rest of the world”;
  3. “Move our people to higher ground. Natural disasters and other effects of climate change are already causing damage and death. We need to adapt our country to this new reality”;
  4. “Reverse the damage we’ve done. Research needs to be done on removing carbon from our atmosphere, cooling the planet and rejuvenating ecosystems”;
  5. “Hold future administrations accountable. We need to pass a constitutional amendment that creates a duty on the federal and state governments to be stewards for the environment.”

Yang proposes the following timeline to reach net-zero emissions by 2049:

  • 2025 – Establish net-zero standards for new buildings
  • 2027 – New nuclear reactors begin to come online
  • 2030 – Zero-emission standard for all new cars
  • 2035 – 100% emissions free electric grid
  • 2040 – Net-zero for all transportation sectors
  • 2045 – 85% methane recapture
  • 2049 – Fully green economy

To accomplish these things, Yang will:

  1. “End all fossil fuel subsidies and use that money for retraining programs and subsidies for low-income individuals to transition to sustainable energy sources”;
  2. “Stop all new leases for oil and gas companies on public lands, and end any currently existing lease”;
  3. “Fight against any new pipeline or similar infrastructure, especially any that would cut across contested land”;
  4. “Create more aggressive Clean Power Plan targets, and end the grandfathering-in of old plants that haven’t been sufficiently upgraded to trigger NSR”;
  5. “Pass legislation requiring large corporations to document the externalized costs of their environmental impact”;
  6. “Pass Climate Risk Disclosure bills to incentivize divestment in oil companies and other heavy polluting industries”;
  7. Implement a $40/ton carbon fee and dividend which would “increase in regular intervals of $5/ton for the first 4 years and then $10/ton until it hits $100/ton”; 
  8. “ Engage in a public relations campaign to update the reputation of nuclear reactors” and “Invest $50 billion in research and development for thorium-based molten salt reactors, and nuclear fusion reactors, to provide a green energy source for Americans”;
  9. “Immediately create a system similar to the ZEV program in California, and require all vehicles starting with 2030 models to be zero-emission”;
  10. “Create the Renewable Energy Building Association – REBA – to loan up to $3 trillion over 20 years to individuals to purchase heat pumps, solar panels, batteries, and other technologies for their residences. If households choose to take advantage of this, they will pay off these loans at a 3% (or lower) interest rate and will end up paying less annually than their previous energy bills.”;
  11. “Provide $800 million to NASA, the Department of Defense, and NOAA to research, experiment with, and test geoengineering methods that will either give us more time to deal with climate change, or give us options should we hit a climate tipping point of which we aren’t aware.”;
  12. “Convene a global summit on geoengineering. Many researchers in the US and other countries are doing work in this field – if we bring them together we can formalize and accelerate our learning and build a global approach.”

Campaign Website:

Yang’s campaign website says that “Climate change is an existential threat to humanity and our way of life. It should be a top priority of the federal government to implement policies to control anthropogenic climate change while working with other governments to implement these policies throughout the world…. As President, I will:

  1. Invest heavily in carbon capture and geoengineering technologies designed to reverse the damage already done to the environment through a new Global Geoengineering Institute and invite international participation;
  2. Invest in any idea that has the potential to reverse the damage done to the environment, for example cloud-seeding technology to increase the atmosphere’s reflectivity;
  3. End the current tax benefits and cuts given to fossil fuel companies which give them an unwarranted competitive advantage over alternative energy sources;
  4. Institute a tax on emissions that will fund health care initiatives and research for respiratory diseases that are a direct result of these emissions;
  5. Empower and appoint an action-oriented leader of the EPA and direct the EPA to regulate carbon emissions;
  6. Direct the EPA to survey the states and private organizations to collate all programs designed to promote renewable energy adoption;
  7. Direct the EPA to coordinate with state and local governments to measure the impact of different policies on effecting positive impacts in the area of renewables adoption;
  8. Prioritize sustainable infrastructure and urban development to take advantage of new materials and designs.”

His website also describes his plans to institute a $40/ton carbon fee and dividend that will help fund his universal basic income proposal, a host of ideas to modernize the electrical grid, and a plan to increase construction of new nuclear power plants.

Yang has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge to “not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or SEC-named executives of fossil fuel companies — companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.”

Public statements:

On April 29, a group of students dressed as penguins asked Yang if he would put addressing climate change at the center of his campaign. He responded,

“100% yes. Climate change is an existential threat to our way of life… [but] in a society where 78% of people are having trouble paying their bills it’s difficult to galvanize energy around climate change, [and] I still stand by that. If you go to someone and say we need to address climate change and they can’t pay their bills then they might look up at you and say the penguins can wait in line, I can’t pay my bills. So what we have to do is get the economic boot off people’s throats and then they’re going to hopefully realize that we need to address climate change.”

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Announced Republican Candidates

President Donald J. Trump

Climate Plans:

Trump has not released any climate plans to date.

Campaign Website:

Trump’s campaign website touts the fact that he and his administration:

  1. “Kept [our] campaign promise to get America out of the Paris Climate Agreement”;
  2. “directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rescind the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP)”;
  3. “reconsidered Obama-era rule on methane emissions that would cost American energy developers an estimated $530 million annually”;
  4. “signed an Executive Order to expand offshore oil and gas drilling and open more leases to develop offshore drilling”;
  5. “approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, supporting an estimated total of 42,000 indirect jobs and $2 billion in wages”;
  6. “Signed legislation to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to domestic energy production.”

Public statements:

Trump has repeatedly dismissed the scientific consensus about climate change, claiming he has a “natural instinct for science.”

He told reporters on November 27, 2018 that he doesn’t believe the findings from the U.S. 4th National Climate Assessment, produced by his own administration, which reinforced the scientific consensus that climate change is largely caused by human activity and warned of the dire consequences of continuing to emit greenhouse gasses at current levels.

He told the Washington Post later that day that “a lot of people like myself — we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers [in climate change]. You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean.”

History:

NRDC’s Bob Deans has written at length about the environmental damage Trump and his administration have produced. 

NRDC (Trump Watch) and National Geographic have kept detailed timelines of all his administration’s changes to environmental policy, including air and water pollution, deregulation, and rollback of Obama era climate rules.

Trump has questioned the science behind climate change for years on his personal Twitter account:

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Gov. William Weld

Climate Plans:

Weld has not released any climate plans to date.

Campaign Website:

Weld’s campaign website does not include any references to climate change.

Public statements:

At a speech on February 15 announcing his exploratory committee for president at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, Weld said,

“With respect to the environment and climate change, the approach of the current administration is antithetical to every principle of conservation and conservatism, and every tenet of Theodore Roosevelt’s Grand Old Party. Whether it’s as protection of a fragile ecosystem or as stewardship of God’s creation, take your choice, there’s a pressing need to act on climate change. The United States must rejoin the Paris climate accords and adopt targets consistent with those of other industrialized nations. We must protect our economy, yes, but we must also recognize that increased natural disasters and unfamiliar weather patterns actually threaten to strip the snow from our white mountains and to melt all the mountain glaciers worldwide upon which hundreds of millions of people depend for their only water supply. Europe has its cathedrals and monuments. We have our mountains, canyons, valleys, rivers and streams, and we had damn well better take care of them. Our borders are safe here in New Hampshire, but it’s not a stretch to say if climate change isn’t addressed our coastlines and those of all other countries will be obliterated by storm surge and the melting of the polar ice cap. Yet climate skeptics claim that they are conservative!”

In his announcement on April 15 that he will be mounting a primary challenge to Donald Trump, Weld cited climate change among his many reasons for entering the race: “The president is just not dealing with serious issues such as global warming and climate change. That’s a real threat to us as a country. And for the president to just say it’s a hoax, that’s not responsible government.”

On April 16 during a visit to New Hampshire, Weld again emphasized that he would take a different approach to climate change: “I wouldn’t turn my back on climate change and global warming the way Mr. Trump has.… The Republican Party should not put its head in the sand on climate change.”

History:

Colleagues who worked with Weld to pass environmental legislation during his time as Governor of Massachusetts describe him as “a great environmentalist” anda Teddy Roosevelt, old New England Republican type of politician, with a view that conservation is an inherent value for the state and certainly for the country.”

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