(This post was last updated on October 15, 2019.)
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:
- Climate plans released by candidates (if any);
- Overview of how the candidate’s website talks about climate change;
- Public statements by the candidate on climate change; and
- Candidate’s history on climate action.
Democratic Candidates for President (in alphabetical order):
- Sen. Michael Bennet (Climate plan)
- Joe Biden (Climate plan)
- Sen. Cory Booker (Climate plan)
- Gov. Steve Bullock
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg (Climate plan)
- Sec. Julian Castro (Climate plan)
- Rep. John Delaney (Climate plan)
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
- Sen. Kamala Harris (Climate plan)
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Climate plan)
- Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Climate plan)
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (Climate plan)
- Tom Steyer (Climate plan)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Climate plan)
- Andrew Yang (Climate plan)
Republican Candidates for President (in alphabetical order):
Sen. Michael Bennet
On May 20, Bennet released his climate plan. It has eight major components:
- Achieve 100% clean, net-zero emissions by 2050;
- Create 10 million zero-emission economy jobs in 10 years;
- Cut energy waste in half by 2040;
- Decarbonize agriculture with the help of farmers;
- Conserve 30% of America’s land and oceans by 2030;
- Create a climate bank to deploy $1 trillion on federal funds in infrastructure and clean technologies by 2030;
- Offer every household a “Climate X option” to purchase affordable zero-emissions electricity, zero-emissions vehicles, retrofits and decentralized renewable energy generation technology;
- Create a 2030 Climate Challenge to push states to develop strong climate plans.
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.”
At an Iowa house party on 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 debate on 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.”
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.”
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:
- Ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050;
- 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;
- 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;
- Stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities;
- 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.”
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.”
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.”
Biden introduced a bill in 1986 that would have established a presidential task force on climate change.
Sen. Cory Booker
Booker released his climate plan on September 3.
The plan will:
- “Directly invest over $3 trillion dollars by 2030 to fund the transition to a 100% carbon-neutral economy by no later than 2045 and spurring economic activity, creating millions of jobs where they are needed most, and empowering communities to have control and ownership over their energy systems and local environments”;
- “Accelerate the end of fossil fuels by immediately eliminating all fossil fuel subsidies, barring all new fossil fuel leases, phasing out fracking, and instituting a carbon fee and progressive climate dividend — achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030”;
- “Supercharge innovation and a clean energy workforce through a $400 billion community-based investment in every corner of the country in the basic research, applied research, and commercialization of clean energy technologies and solutions for hard-to-decarbonize sectors of the economy”;
- “Unleash natural climate solutions through massive reforestation and coastal wetlands restoration”;
- “Invest over $100 billion by 2030 through existing USDA conservation programs to make farms more climate resilient and enable our farmers and ranchers to be part of the climate change solution”;
- “Lead the world toward ambitious and binding emissions commitments”;
- “Center people and communities in all of the above, through strong labor standards, funding disaster relief and preparedness, incentivizing distributed ownership of renewable technologies to ensure its benefits are widely enjoyed, engaging with communities to make their own energy and environmental choices, and ensuring fairness for workers and communities”.
Booker pledges to “send sweeping legislation to Congress to enact his plan for climate action. But he won’t wait for Congress to act. He would use executive authority to advance his climate agenda, including through agency rule-making, executive orders, and discretionary funding priorities.”
Immediate executive actions Booker will take include:
- “Drastically increasing EPA enforcement actions against polluting companies”;
- “Reinstating and strengthening CAFE standards that the Trump administration is rolling back”;
- “Establishing a regulatory requirement that all new passenger vehicles after 2030 be zero emission”;
- “Signing an executive order to bar all new onshore and offshore fossil fuel leases”;
- “Implementing a requirement for fossil fuel companies to stop methane leaks from both new and existing sources”;
- “Revoking Trump executive orders to approve the Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, and that streamline approvals of other fossil fuel projects”;
- “Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and bringing the international community together around more ambitious emission reduction commitments”;
- “Beginning to negotiate new trade agreements that include progressive environmental and labor standards”;
- “Ending the granting of waivers to big oil companies from their blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard”.
In addition, on August 8, Booker unveiled the Climate Stewardship Act of 2019 in partnership with Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM). According to a press release from his senate office, the bill was “inspired by measures implemented in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal,” and would:
- “support voluntary climate stewardship practices on more than 100 million acres of farmland… [with the goal of] reducing or offsetting agricultural emissions by one third by 2025”;
- “Plant over 4 billion trees by 2030, and 15 billion trees by 2050… to revive deforested landscapes and expand urban tree cover”,
- “reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps — one of the New Deal’s most popular programs… to provide youth from low-income communities, indigenous communities, and communities of color with skills and work experience in forestry and wetlands restoration”;
- “Restore or protect over 2 million acres of coastal wetlands by 2030 to sequester carbon emissions and reduce coastal flooding”; and
- “invest in renewable energy for farmers and rural small businesses in the spirit of the New Deal’s Rural Electrification Act, which provided low-cost loans to help bring electricity to rural America.”
With regard to the bill, Booker said,
“In FDR’s New Deal, the federal government planted billions of trees, provided conservation incentives to family farmers and ranchers, created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and electrified rural America. In order to address the urgent and existential threat posed by climate change, all of these approaches should be part of our broader strategy. In addition to transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy, another essential step that we must take is to increase the carbon sequestration in our soils, forests, and wetlands. This legislation will not only reduce emissions and substantially increase carbon sequestration, but will also create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, enhance biodiversity by restoring tens of millions of acres of habitat, and make our farms more resilient and competitive.”
- “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”.
In a section on his campaign website devoted to Climate Change and Environmental Justice, Booker enumerates seventeen environmental policy priorities he will pursue once he becomes president, including:
- Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord;
- Undo the damage the Trump Administration has done at the Environmental Protection Agency and hold polluters accountable;
- Work to implement a Green New Deal;
- Put a moratorium on drilling on our public lands;
- Reauthorize and triple the Superfund tax on chemical and oil companies;
- Increase fees on coal mine operators to pay for the cleanup of abandoned mines;
- Protect marginalized communities suffering from environmental injustices by increasing staffing at the EPA’s Environmental Justice Office and the External Civil Rights Enforcement Office;
- Step up efforts to defend communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities by doubling staffing in all EPA enforcement offices;
- Safeguard the basic human right to safe drinking water;
- End the plague on communities caused by lead paint;
- Stop polluting companies from evading responsibility for environmental cleanups;
- Raise the standards for granting or renewing Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act Permits;
- Ban fracking;
- Reinstate and expand the crude oil export ban;
- Require consideration of climate change impacts in permitting decisions for any new fossil fuel infrastructure;
- Prohibit construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure when cost competitive clean energy alternatives are available;
- End all federal subsidies for fossil fuel production.
Booker 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.”
Booker released a statement upon the release of Sen. Ed Markey’s Green New Deal resolution on February 7, saying,
“Climate change is a pressing and serious environmental and economic crisis that threatens the way of life for our kids and grandkids. This challenge must be met with a commitment from the federal government that is commensurate with the level of commitment we saw in this country during the original New Deal. And that’s exactly the type of determination this proposal brings. Communities of color, low-income communities, indigenous communities and our family farmers are on the front lines of climate change, and I’m particularly encouraged that this blueprint addresses climate change in a way that promotes both economic and environmental justice.”
At a campaign stop in Mason City, Iowa on February 8, Booker was asked about the Green New Deal. He responded by saying,
“We are at a really difficult point in human history. Scientists now are coming to a consensus around the planet that if we allow temperatures to rise to a certain level it could have catastrophic impact – literally trillions of dollars hits to our economy, the most vulnerable people suffering. And doing nothing is not an option right now because our planet is in peril. And so the question now is what is the United States of America going to do? Is it going to lead the planet, in terms of dealing with this crisis? Or is it going to pull back from global leadership when we are the biggest economy on planet earth? I believe that America should lead and it should lead boldly. And so the Green New Deal is this bold idea that we need to lean in to do something about climate change and we need to start taking dramatic efforts to invest in green energy and not let other countries beat us to the jobs of the future and the green technology. We should make sure that our communities get jobs doing those things, and make sure that the federal government… make sure that there’s job opportunities for folks.”
At his campaign launch rally in Newark on April 13, Booker told the crowd, “We won’t wait to meet the challenge and the crisis of climate change. We don’t have any other choice! We will build a clean energy economy, we will hold big polluters accountable, and ensure that every child can drink the water from their sink and breath the air in their neighborhood without getting sick.”
Booker was one of four candidates in the first Democratic presidential debate on June 26 to name climate change as the top geopolitical threat facing the United States.
On July 18, Booker told Robert Acosta during a Washington Post Live interview,
“We need to be back to a society that’s about health and well-being and start focusing our systems to do that. That’s what the urgency of climate change is about as well. We’re allowing a perversion of the free market! There’s actually a difference in this among the democratic candidates. I’m stunned that some of my democratic candidates don’t want to put a price on carbon… you’re allowing corporations to produce a problem, to externalize it into the commons (which is virtually stealing from future generations who are going to have to deal with the costs of that)… we’re allowing corporations to pollute our atmosphere, causing hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars [in damages] – fires, floods, storms – causing a problem. Without a price on carbon we’re not going to solve these problems.”
At the second Democratic debate on July 31, Booker said,
“climate change is not a separate issue, it must be the issue and the lens with which we view every issue. Nobody should get applause for rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, that is kindergarten. We have to go far in advance [of that] to make sure that everything from our trade deals, everything from the billions of dollars we spend in foreign aid, everything must be sublimated to the challenge and the crisis which is existential which is the climate crisis. And yes, the majority of this problem is outside the United States, but the only way we are going to deal with this is if the United States leads.”
At the CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall on September 4, Booker told anchor Don Lemon he supports nuclear power because, “right now nuclear is more than 50% of our non-carbon causing energy. People who think we can get [to zero-carbon electricity by 2030] without nuclear being part of the blend just aren’t looking at the facts… And this is the exciting thing: next generation nuclear, where the science is going, to me at first it sounded like science fiction. New nuclear actually portends of exciting things where you have no risk of the kind of meltdowns we’re seeing, where they eat spent fuel rods. We can go to the kind of innovations that make nuclear safer or safe!”
Booker was one of the first prospective candidates to support a Green New Deal, tweeting his support on December 14, 2018 by saying, “We must take bold action on climate change & create a green economy that benefits all Americans…. Excited to support a #GreenNewDeal.”
He was one of three co-sponsors on Jeff Merkley’s 100 by 50 Act in 2017.
Booker has argued in the past for expanding nuclear power (nuclear power provides over a third of New Jersey’s energy). NRDC experts Dale Bryk and Jackson Morris wrote about why nuclear is the wrong approach to reducing emissions and how best to approach transitioning away from it here.
Gov. Steve Bullock
Bullock has not released any climate plans to date.
Bullock’s campaign website lists a variety of goals and action items he will pursue once he takes office. They include:
- “Rejoin the Paris Agreement on Day One”;
- “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, but Steve believes we should aim to beat that by a decade or earlier”;
- “Require each federal agency to develop a plan to reduce carbon emissions each year of his administration”;
- “Aggressively expand clean energy like solar and wind power as well as significantly expanding energy conservation efforts”;
- “Reverse Trump’s weakening of automobile fuel efficiency standards. Then strengthen those standards, so the auto industry starts investing more in fuel-efficient cars that save us money on gas and reduce pollution”;
- “Direct the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to achieve net-zero emissions on our public lands by 2030. This can achieve significant reductions through forestry, aggressive restoration of grasslands and wetlands to capture carbon, as well as responsibly deploying clean energy projects”;
- “Take on the energy industry and stop dark money groups like those bankrolled by the Koch Brothers. These special interest groups flood our elections with outside dollars and prevent Washington from taking even the first step to address climate change”;
- “Set realistic emissions reduction targets for the U.S. military…. This means a significant investment into biofuels (especially for aircraft) and new energy technologies”;
- “Improve our Renewable Fuel Standards to maximize environmental benefits”;
- “Increase research investments to unleash American innovation in our colleges, labs, small businesses, minority- and women-owned businesses, and farms and ranches to catalyze a nationwide clean energy boom”;
- “Work with state governments, the private sector, and unions to update our national electric grid – the oldest energy technology and equipment still operating. An updated grid will create jobs, modernize delivery, and spur economic growth across the country”;
- “Follow the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendation and invest in new carbon capture technologies. These innovations can capture and use carbon in advanced ceramics, cement, or other products key to commerce and infrastructure”;
- “Invest in the workers who powered our country for generations so they lead the way in the new clean energy economy”;
- “Direct the Department of Labor to strengthen training and credentialing programs for workers in communities that are going through economic transition”;
- “Engage farmers and ranchers – the original conservationists who know first-hand the importance of dealing with a changing climate. Steve will work with them and draw on their expertise to develop the next generation of biofuels, better leverage carbon-reducing cover crops to improve soil health, restore forests and wetlands to build resilience to extreme weather, and further incentivize reductions in greenhouse gases”.
In an interview with Montana Public Radio on May 14, Bullock was asked about his position on the Green New Deal. He responded,
“I think that the Green New Deal is a sort of resolution, aspiration in Washington D.C., and I’m less interested in signing on to resolutions that probably won’t take meaningful steps going forward in Washington D.C. than what are the tangible things that we could start doing now.”
“we in Montana… see the impacts of climate change happening and we do have to take bold action. I think that there are steps that you can take and take even from the beginning. I mean, day one rejoining our global role in Paris…. Energy efficiency alone could address about 30% of the reductions that we would need to do; investing in technology. So I think there are a number of steps that you can take.”
On June 26 during a televised town hall in Des Moines, Iowa, Bullock was asked about his plan to combat climate change and support rural farmers. He responded by saying, “We need to take immediate and durable steps. You’re seeing it here in Iowa with the flooding. I had 1.2 million acres burn two years ago. Fire seasons in the west are 78 days longer than when I was growing up. I think there are immediate steps you can take…
- Rejoining Paris and funding our commitments. We know that we can’t do this alone.
- Not even the auto industry was asking for these reductions in fuel emission standards. Putting those back in place.
- Ag has to be a partner in both reducing emissions and also in carbon capture. Making sure you’re not always planting every single field and incentivizing farmers to do that by investing in research and with things like the [Natural Resources Conservation Service] at the federal level. Some of the best conservationists I know in Montana are farmers and ranchers, because they need to preserve this land.
- At a higher level we know that IPCC says we need to be at net zero in the entire world by 2050. I think we can do it by 2040 or earlier, and it’s going to take both the will of Congress coming together and a strong executive to say we can’t wait another three decades.”
On July 1, Bullock was asked about his position on the Keystone XL pipeline. He responded, “if it’s done right, we can’t take it off the table.”
In a 2017 article on the impact of climate change on his state, Bullock said, “To not acknowledge or deal with our changing climate in a responsible way is shortsighted and dangerous,” adding, “there’s no way you’re going to flip a switch tomorrow, or [in] five years, and all of a sudden quit using coal or other fossil fuels for energy production. There’s no way you’re going to be able to do that in 15 or 20 years.”
On July 1, Bullock announced he was signing an executive order to create a council that will study how and when Montana can feasibly reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions. It also sets an interim goal of reaching carbon neutrality in the electricity sector by 2035. In his announcement, Bullock said in Montana,
“climate change is already impacting our way of life and our economy…. Our impacts are among the most pronounced in the entire country. Already temperatures have risen 3 degrees in Montana since 1950 on average, about twice the amount of the nation as a whole. We’ve also been experiencing transitions in our economy and our energy sector that are happening within our state’s borders, around the nation and indeed around the world…. Our state, and indeed our entire nation, needs Montana-focused solutions now more than ever.”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg released his climate plan on September 4.
The plan includes a timeline for becoming “a net-zero emissions society no later than 2050”:
- By 2025, double the clean electricity generated in the U.S.
- By 2035, build a clean electricity system with zero emissions and require zero emissions for all new passenger vehicles.
- By 2040, require net-zero emissions for all new heavy-duty vehicles, buses, rail, ships, and aircraft and develop a thriving carbon removal industry.
- By 2050, achieve net-zero emissions from industry, including steel and concrete, manufacturing, and agriculture sectors.
To reach these goals, a Buttigieg administration will:
- “Work with Congress to pass an economy-wide price on carbon, which will automatically increase each year… and send rebates to Americans”;
- “Quadruple federal clean energy R&D funding to $25 billion per year by 2025, investing more than $200 billion over 10 years”;
- “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”;
- “End subsidies for fossil fuel companies and close public lands to new fossil leases”;
- “Revitalize U.S. leadership in the Arctic Council so we can reduce emissions and oppose drilling in that region”;
- “Subject…all new infrastructure, including pipelines…to a climate-positive test”;
- 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”;
- 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”;
- 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”;
- “Offer loan guarantees to companies for renovating existing plants and assembly lines to build new low-carbon products and create jobs in their communities”;
- “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”;
- “Deploy at least 1 gigaton of annual CO2 removal capacity by 2040, including direct air capture”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- 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:
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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.”
- “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”.
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.”
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,
- “a carbon tax and dividend to reorient our economy around a more sensible reward system….
- quadrupling our R&D to at least $25 billion a year leading the way on research into renewable energy, energy storage, and carbon storage….
- empowering rural america to be part of the solution, helping to unlock the potential of soil management and other 21st century farming techniques….
- 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.”
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.”
Sec. Julian Castro
Castro released his climate plan on September 3. In it, he says, “my first executive action will be to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and rally the international community to go further, achieving worldwide net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
To reach that global target, the United States under Castro’s leadership will “achieve net-zero emissions by 2045 and at least a 50 percent reduction by 2030”. His administration will:
- Push for “all electrical power to be carbon-neutral by 2030 and be entirely clean, renewable, and zero-emission by 2035”;
- “Raise standards to ensure new light- and medium-duty vehicles and buildings are zero emissions by 2030”;
- “Double federal investment in public transportation to electrify buses and expand public transit”;
- “Immediately stop the exploration and extraction of fossil fuels on public lands and end all taxpayer subsidies of fossil fuel production”;
- “Support a new ‘carbon pollution fee’ on up-stream, large-scale polluters for greenhouse gas emissions and [invest] that revenue in renewable energy, environmental justice, and climate resilience”;
- “Implement a renewed Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions emissions”;
- “Regulate methane gas through executive action”;
- “Establish Buy Clean procurement standards”;
- “Continue improving energy standards for appliances and homes”;
- “Create a national clean energy standard”;
- “Invest in research and development to bring clean technology to commercial viability”;
- “Invest in export assistance to promote American clean manufacturing”;
- “Pass new civil rights legislation to prevent environmental discrimination”.
Several months prior, on June 18, Castro released a “People First Housing” plan that included a section related to climate change. In it, the former Housing and Urban Development Secretary under President Obama frames the plan as part of a broader effort to “achieve net-zero global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, reduce U.S. emissions to at least half of 2005 emissions levels by 2030, and meet the promise of the Green New Deal.”
The plan has four key points:
- “Establish a $200 Billion Green Infrastructure Fund” that would “Support public transportation, energy efficiency building upgrades, climate resilience, a modernized energy grid that includes high-voltage direct current lines, energy storage, water conservation, public electric vehicle charging stations, and other investments through direct grants and concessional and non-concessional loans”;
- “Require climate sensitivity and ‘Carbon Scoring’ in future planning and government projects that would ensure any government project contributes towards meeting climate goals and sets benchmarks to reduce carbon impact and mitigate climate change, including net-zero carbon emission targets for new federal housing construction”;
- “Ensure zoning reforms enacted through this plan further climate goals through higher density housing, transit-oriented development, incorporating resilience in new developments, and other city planning practices that lower commute times, diminish reliance on personal vehicles, reduce destruction by natural weather events, and lower carbon emissions”;
- “Establish Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Assistance as a permanent program to help communities recover from natural disasters more effectively, and support long-term sustainable land use.”
- “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”.
Outside of his climate plan and People First Housing plan, Castro’s campaign website does not include any references to climate change.
Castro 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.”
When Castro announced his candidacy on January 12, he made addressing climate change a key point in his speech:
“The biggest threat to our prosperity in the 21st century is climate change. Don’t let anybody tell you that we have to choose between growing our economy and protecting our planet. We can fight climate change and create great jobs in America. And here’s the thing: we don’t have a moment to waste. Scientists say that if we don’t get serious about this right now the consequences will be tragic. So we won’t wait. As president, my first executive order will recommit the United States to the Paris Climate Accord. We’re going to say no to subsidizing big oil and say yes to passing a Green New Deal.”
In the first Democratic presidential debate on June 26, Castro said,
“When I was HUD secretary we worked on the National Disaster Resilience Competition to invest in communities that were trying to rebuild from natural disasters in a sustainable way. That’s the way we’re going to make sure that we’re all safer in the years to come and combat climate change. And if I’m elected president, the first thing I would do… is sign an executive order recommitting us to the Paris Climate Accord.”
Later in the debate Castro was one of four candidates on stage to name climate change as the top geopolitical threat facing the United States.
Castro was asked a question on July 13 at the Netroots Nation conference about his approach to the climate crisis. He responded,
“I believe that we can both protect our planet and also create great jobs in the clean energy economy…. I like the idea of a Green New Deal that would invest in getting to net-zero [emissions], that would impose a carbon fee, and that would also invest in getting more jobs into the hands of hard-working Americans who need them. That includes ensuring that when we do that, when we spark economic opportunity in our country, that it doesn’t just go to the big cities, but it also goes to smaller rural communities… We need an economic development agenda that includes a climate-conscious approach and that reaches everybody. We’ve seen that that can work – whether it’s in Nevada and we talk about the solar energy industry, in Texas the wind energy industry, in a number of other states with renewables – that’s the kind of approach I think we need in the years to come.”
As mayor of San Antonio, Castro pushed the local utility to shut down a 900-megawatt coal-fired power plant and to adopt a 20 percent renewable energy benchmark by 2020.
Rep. John Delaney
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:
- Implement a carbon fee and dividend system that will reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2050;
- Promote negative emissions technology to capture the remaining 10%;
- Increase the federal renewable energy research budget 5-fold;
- Develop a challenge grant program to promote innovation and reduce emissions;
- Create a climate corps for national service;
- Build a new pipeline network to deliver captured CO2 to oil fields to enhance oil recovery and sequester captured carbon.
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.”
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.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard has not released any climate plans to date.
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.”
Gabbard did not co-sponsor the Green New Deal resolution, citing its “vagueness” as her reason.
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.”
Sen. Kamala Harris
Harris released her Climate Plan for the People on September 4. It sets “a bold target to exceed the Paris Agreement climate goals and achieve a clean economy by 2045,” and “achieve a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2030”. The plan revolves around five key pillars:
- A Foundation for Justice that centers “empowering impacted communities”;
- Holding Polluters Accountable
- Building a Clean Economy That Works For the People
- Protecting Our Natural Resources
- Asserting International Leadership
A Harris administration will:
- Pass the Climate Equity Act;
- “Leverage both executive authority and Congress to end federal support for the fossil fuel industry, including by… eliminating tax preferences and opposing new fossil fuel infrastructure projects”;
- “Phase out all fossil fuel development on public lands and implement conservation and renewable energy strategies to make our public lands net carbon sinks by 2030”;
- “Use existing authorities and work with Congress to phase out existing leases and implement emissions mitigation strategies such as capping methane flaring and linking production royalties to the social cost of carbon so that oil and gas companies are paying for the climate damage they are causing”;
- “Ensure that corporations appropriately assess and disclose risks from climate change. This includes incorporating strategies like Senator Warren’s Climate Risk Disclosure Act, which directs the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue rules requiring that public companies properly disclose their climate risk”;
- Involve frontline communities in developing a progressively increasing climate pollution fee and make sure its revenues “are invested back into those communities to improve environmental conditions and local economic development”;
- “Meet 100 percent of our electricity demand with carbon-neutral power by 2030 [u]sing a progressively more stringent Clean Electricity Standard that acknowledges states are all starting from different points”;
- Pass an accelerated model of Senator Merkley’s Zero-Emission Vehicles Act to “ensure that 50 percent of all new passenger vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2030, and 100 percent are zero-emission by 2035”;
- “reinstate federal clean car rules, including reinstating and increasing vehicle fuel economy standards in partnership with California and other states and countries,” “institute a national Low-Carbon Fuel Standard to ramp down emissions from transportation fuels as ZEV adoption ramps up,” and “require that all new vehicle purchases for corporate fleets, transportation networks, and heavy duty vehicles be ZEVs by 2030”;
- “Require that new buildings are carbon-neutral by 2030”;
- “Support every farm in America to fully implement science-based agricultural conservation practices by 2040, establishing our agricultural sector as a global leader in climate-smart agriculture”;
- “Support policies – like Senator Merkley’s Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act – that drive development of clean energy infrastructure and technology across the country, all while establishing and maintaining high-road labor standards”;
- “Protect and empower communities that have worked in the fossil fuel industry for generations by ensuring they are at the decision-making table and receive the benefits they have worked for and deserve, like pensions, health care, and job transition assistance, including bridge wages. We must also provide a path for workers near the end of their career by providing retirement security. That is why Kamala will work with organizations like the BlueGreen Alliance to effectuate collaborative strategies that partner the labor and environmental communities like the Alliance’s Solidarity for Climate Action”;
“Avoiding the worst consequences of the climate crisis will require the United States to mobilize a full-scale and urgent effort in the form of a Green New Deal, which will end our reliance on fossil fuels and build a clean economy with millions of new jobs. Yet history has shown that such government efforts often leave behind vulnerable ‘frontline’ communities who stand to disproportionately suffer the negative impacts of the crisis at hand.”
To avoid this, the Climate Equity Act would “hold the United States government accountable for ensuring that frontline communities are at the heart of the decision-making process whenever it considers a policy, regulation, or rule with a climate or environmental nexus.” It proposes to:
- “Establish an independent Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability to represent the views of frontline communities in rulemaking by bringing those communities into the rulemaking process, conduct research on issues and trends in frontline communities, measure the costs of regulations on frontlines communities, and monitor government compliance.”
- “Require that environmental and climate-related legislation receive an equity score that will transparently estimate the impact on frontline communities… modeled after the economic scores provided by the Congressional Budget Office”
Harris’s campaign website says
“We’re facing a climate crisis… Kamala knows we need to take on big oil companies to win this fight—and that’s exactly what she’s done throughout her career. From defending California’s landmark climate laws in court, to suing corporations like Chevron for damaging the environment, Kamala has stood up to special interests and won…. With American ingenuity and imagination, we can forge a Green New Deal to tackle the climate crisis, build a clean economy that creates good-paying jobs for the future, and confront environmental injustice head on. That means modernizing our transportation, energy, and water infrastructure. It means accelerating the spread of electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines. And it means making bold investments in innovative technologies to build a carbon free future.”
Harris 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.”
On January 28 at a CNN Town Hall in Des Moines, Iowa, Harris responded to a question about the Green New Deal by saying,
“I support a Green New Deal and I will tell you why. Climate change is an existential threat to us and we’ve got to deal with the reality of it… we have policymakers who are in the pocket of big oil and big coal who don’t fully appreciate the fact that we are looking at something that is posing an existential threat to our country.”
In her CNN town hall on April 22, when a student asked why she supported the Green New Deal Harris responded,
“I support it because I to my core know that the climate crisis is representing an existential threat to who we are as human beings…. [The Green New Deal] appreciates that we need to take this seriously and the clock is ticking every day on this issue. Every day we fail to act will be to our collective consequence.The UN has already said over the next 12 years if we don’t get this straight there will be severe consequence. This is within our ability to do something about it!… We need to invest in electric cars. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All of that is in the Green New Deal. And you know the greatest thing about it that I’m really enjoying? It’s causing these conversations to happen around the country in a way they have not been the past few years. And hopefully everyone is understanding that so much of the harm that we are doing to our planet is caused by us as human beings and the solutions will be because we change our behaviors without much requirement in change to lifestyle.”
At the second Democratic debate on July 31, Harris said, “We must have and adopt a green new deal. On day one as president I would re-enter us in the Paris Agreement and put [measures] in place so we would be carbon neutral by 2030.”
At the CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall on September 4, Harris responded to a question from the audience about bipartisanship by saying she would remove the filibuster: “We need to work across the aisle, but I’ve been [in Congress] for two years and some months and I’m seeing no evidence of it… If [Republicans] fail to act, as president of the United States I am prepared to get rid of the filibuster to pass a Green New Deal.”
She also announced at the event that she would seek to ban fracking and offshore drilling.
As California’s attorney general, Harris launched an investigation into whether Exxon Mobil lied to the public and its shareholders about the risks posed by climate change.
Harris introduced the “Living Shorelines Act of 2018,” which would have directed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make grants to communities to combat the impacts of sea-level rise and stronger storms.
Harris co-sponsored Senator Markey’s Green New Deal resolution, saying,
“Climate change is an existential threat, and we must deal with the reality of it. We must radically shift the conversation on how to address the climate crisis we are facing because we are running out of time to act. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of this bold Green New Deal resolution and look forward to working with my colleagues to craft policies to protect our environment, create jobs to fuel a clean economy, and build a sustainable and equitable future.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
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:
- “Get the United States back in the International Climate Agreement on day one”;
- “Senator Klobuchar will bring back the goals established by the Clean Power Plan”;
- “Senator Klobuchar will restore and strengthen our fuel economy standards, which are key to fighting climate change”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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:
- 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.”
- “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.”
- “establish a Clean Energy bond program to expand clean energy tax incentives.”
- “invest in interregional transmission lines and grid improvements to support the development of renewable energy”
- “preserve and expand resources for LIHEAP and the Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps households in need reduce energy spending.”
- “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:
- “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”;
- “End federal tax subsidies for fossil fuel exploration and production”;
- “Ban new fossil fuel permitting on federal lands and review and restore environmental protections repealed by the Trump Administration”;
- “Restore and strengthen the EPA and BLM methane rules”;
- “Streamline renewable energy production on federal land”;
- “Support research to improve negative emissions technologies”;
- “Create a competitive grant program and a new investment tax credit to promote investments in grid improvements and storage”;
- “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”;
- “Make a significant investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and bring back the tax credit for electric vehicle purchases”;
- “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”.
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.”
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.
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.”
Rep. Beto O’Rourke
On April 29, O’Rourke announced a detailed four-part framework to fight climate change, ensuring the country reaches “net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and that we are halfway there by 2030”. The plan rests on four main pillars:
- Start cutting pollution on day one and taking executive actions to lead on climate;
- Mobilize a historic $5 trillion for climate change with investment in infrastructure innovation, and our people and communities;
- Guarantee our net-zero emissions ambition by 2050;
- Defend our communities that are preparing for and fighting against extreme weather.
O’Rourke 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.”
In his announcement video on March 14, O’Rourke told the camera, “the interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy, and our climate have never been greater.” He added, “perhaps most importantly of all, because our very existence depends on it, we can unleash the ingenuity and creativity of millions of Americans who want to ensure that we squarely confront the challenge of climate change before it’s too late.”
At a campaign event in Keokuk, Iowa that same day, O’Rourke was asked about his thoughts on the Green New Deal. “This is our final chance,” he responded. “The scientists are absolutely unanimous on this, that we have no more than 12 years to take incredibly bold action on this crisis…. Can we make it? I don’t know, it’s up to every single one of us…. Some will criticize the Green New Deal for being too bold, for being too unmanageable. I’ll tell you what, I haven’t seen anything better that addresses the crisis that we face, a crisis that could at its worst lead to extinction…. Literally the future of the world depends on us right here.”
In his announcement speech in El Paso on March 30, O’Rourke said,
“This is our moment, with little more than 10 years to spare to do everything in our power to free this economy from a dependence on fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, and to ensure as we make the investment in new technologies and renewable energy that everyone has the chance to benefit from this new economy, especially those communities, lower income and too often of color, who have born the brunt of climate change so far… let’s open up technologies and markets to [everyone that wants to help] that provide an incentive for capturing the carbon that we’re currently emitting in the air….”
At the We the People Forum on April 1, O’Rourke was asked what he would do in his first hundred days to protect the environment. He responded,
“There are a couple of low hanging opportunities first implemented by the Obama Administration and since reversed by the Trump Administration: Clean Power Plan rules to make sure that we take into account pollution right now. Higher standards for vehicle emissions… absolutely right away. First day in office make sure that we’re fully signed up for the Paris climate accords. As ambitious as those are, it isn’t ambitious enough. So the next thing we need to do is to lead by example…. We generate more wind energy in Texas than any other state in the union. We’re close to closing the distance on solar, building out utility-scale solar. The two fastest growing jobs in the United States of America today? Wind jobs and solar jobs. Let’s make this about saving the planet and also connecting people with jobs that provide purpose and function and a living wage and a skill and a trade that they will have for the rest of their lives. That also means unions and labor, strengthening and prioritizing instead of diminishing the ability to organize and equip people with the skills they’ll need for the rest of their lives….And I’ve got to tell you, those who have written and championed the Green New Deal are absolutely right on the money.”
At a CNN town hall in Des Moines, Iowa, on May 21, O’Rourke was asked about whether he regrets his vote to lift the ban on crude oil exports. He responded,
“I’m happy with that vote… I want to make sure that this country, for as long as we use fossil fuels – and I just made the pledge to transition this country as quickly as humanly can from them – but as long as we’re using them, I want to make sure that we’re independent of the need to obtain those fossil fuels from the Middle East or Venezuela, for these endless wars we’ve been in, 28 years in Iraq alone, and this president threatening to invade Venezuela, the country with the largest proven oil reserves. I’d rather those jobs and that exploration take place here in this country to satisfy our energy needs and the needs of others around the world. I’d like to toughen the EPA standards to make sure that we’re doing this in the most environmentally sound way. And then long term, as quickly as possible transition totally off of fossil fuels to renewable energy.”
On June 21, O’Rourke was asked during an interview on Pod Save America what his top legislative priority would be. He responded that although “there are a host of threats and challenges that we face, [climate change] is the single greatest. I think it’s important that we begin by bringing this country together around the solutions to it.”
At the first Democratic presidential debate on June 26, O’Rourke was asked how he would respond to someone who believes climate legislation is the government telling them how to live. He responded,
“You’ve got to bring everyone in to the challenges and the decisions we face… We in our administration are going to fund resiliency… in those places that are on the frontlines of climate change today. We’re going to mobilize $5 trillion in this economy over the next ten years. We’re going to free ourselves from a dependence on fossil fuels, and we’re going to put farmers and ranchers in the drivers seat, using renewable and sustainable agriculture to make sure that we capture more carbon out of the air and keep more of it in the soil, paying farmers for the environmental services they provide.”
Later in the debate O’Rourke 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, O’Rourke said he favored a cap-and-trade system rather than a carbon tax.
In a televised debate with Cruz during the Senate race in 2018, O’Rourke responded to a moderator’s question about climate change by saying,
“The climate is changing. Man-made climate change is a fact…. We still have time, but the window is closing. If we’re going to make our commitment to the generations that follow and not just think about the next election or our political career or our pursuit of the White House then we can make the right decisions. Now, we can support Texas being a proud energy leader in oil and in gas, but also in renewable energy. Today, Texas leads the country – we’re number one in the nation – in the generation of renewable wind power. We’re number five and moving up quick when it comes to solar. The two fastest growing jobs in the United States of America today [are] wind and solar jobs. We can continue to grow this economy, we can reject the false choice between oil and gas and renewable energy, make sure we produce and refine and transport and use our energy resources more responsibly.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders
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:
- Transform our Energy System to 100% Renewable Energy and Create 20 million Jobs
- End the Greed of the Fossil Fuel Industry and Hold them Accountable
- Rebuild our Economy and Ensure Justice for Frontline Communities and a Just Transition for Workers
To accomplish these things, Sanders will:
- Have the EPA institute a federal renewable energy standard to reach “100 percent energy efficiency and sustainable energy by 2030 at the latest”;
- Invest over $2.5 trillion in renewable energy, energy storage, and grid modernization efforts;
- 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;
- “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;
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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”;
- Invest $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund to “help countries of the Global South with climate adaptation efforts”;
- Re-enter the Paris Agreement and achieve “binding and enforceable multilateral goals to avoid the most catastrophic results of climate change”;
- “Keep fossil fuels on public lands in the ground” by immediately ending “all new and existing fossil fuel extraction on federal public lands”;
- Ban offshore drilling, fracking, and mountaintop removal coal mining;
- “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”;
- “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.
He is also one of three candidates to oppose the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota.
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:
- 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;
- 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;
- Reduce carbon pollution emissions from our transportation system by building out high-speed passenger rail, electric vehicles, and public transit;
- Ban fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure and keep oil, gas, and coal in the ground by banning fossil fuel leases on public lands;
- 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.”
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:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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.
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.
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.”
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
- 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;
- Eliminate asthma-causing and toxic air pollution from diesel engines, power plants, and other major sources no later than 2030;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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
- 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;
- Issue $250 billion over the course of ten years in new National Healthy Communities Climate Bonds;
- 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
- 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;
- 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;
- 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
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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
- 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;
- 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;
- 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:
- “Recommitting fully to the Paris Agreement”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “Ending the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the United States and instituting a ban on fossil fuel exports from US ports”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “Making all non-combat military operations, facilities, and contracts carbon-neutral by 2030”;
In addition, he pledges to strengthen global ambition and collaboration by:
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “Submitting the Kigali Amendment to the Senate for ratification and investing in safer alternative refrigerants that are developed domestically”;
- “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”;
- “Creating a global low carbon fuel standard for international shipping to reduce emissions intensity by 40% by 2030”;
- “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:
- “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”;
- “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”.
Steyer’s campaign website breaks down his climate justice and international climate policies.
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.”
In 2013 Steyer founded NextGen America, a nonprofit group organizing students and young activists on college campuses across the country to vote for politicians who support climate action.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren:
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,
- 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;
- I’d also reinstate the methane pollution rule to limit existing oil and gas projects from releasing harmful gases that poison our air; and
- 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:
- Have the Pentagon achieve net zero carbon emissions for all its non-combat bases and infrastructure by 2030, consistent with the Green New Deal;
- 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;
- Appoint a senior official within the Defense Department and each of the military services focused on climate change;
- Invest billions of dollars into a new, ten-year research and development program at the Defense Department focused on microgrids and advanced energy storage;
- 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:
- 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”;
- 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”;
- 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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.”
- Creating a farmer-led Innovation Fund that will fund “pioneering new methods of sustainable farming, like agroforestry.”
- 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:
- By 2028, 100% zero-carbon pollution for all new commercial and residential buildings;
- By 2030, 100% zero emissions for all new light-duty passenger vehicles, medium-duty trucks, and all buses;
- 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:
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “Require federal agencies to achieve 100% clean energy in their domestic power purchases by the end of my first term”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “Create a national zero-carbon building standard by 2023”;
- “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:
- No community left behind;
- Worker protections;
- Prioritizing environmental justice;
- Clean water and clean energy investments;
- Protecting vulnerable groups during climate disasters;
- Holding Polluters Accountable.
In her plan, Warren pledges to:
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”.
- “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.
Warren’s campaign website has 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.”
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].
- [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;
- 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;
- 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.”
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.”
On August 26, Andrew Yang released his climate plan. It has five key parts:
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “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”;
- “Reverse the damage we’ve done. Research needs to be done on removing carbon from our atmosphere, cooling the planet and rejuvenating ecosystems”;
- “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:
- “End all fossil fuel subsidies and use that money for retraining programs and subsidies for low-income individuals to transition to sustainable energy sources”;
- “Stop all new leases for oil and gas companies on public lands, and end any currently existing lease”;
- “Fight against any new pipeline or similar infrastructure, especially any that would cut across contested land”;
- “Create more aggressive Clean Power Plan targets, and end the grandfathering-in of old plants that haven’t been sufficiently upgraded to trigger NSR”;
- “Pass legislation requiring large corporations to document the externalized costs of their environmental impact”;
- “Pass Climate Risk Disclosure bills to incentivize divestment in oil companies and other heavy polluting industries”;
- 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”;
- “ 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”;
- “Immediately create a system similar to the ZEV program in California, and require all vehicles starting with 2030 models to be zero-emission”;
- “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.”;
- “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.”;
- “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.”
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:
- 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;
- 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;
- End the current tax benefits and cuts given to fossil fuel companies which give them an unwarranted competitive advantage over alternative energy sources;
- Institute a tax on emissions that will fund health care initiatives and research for respiratory diseases that are a direct result of these emissions;
- Empower and appoint an action-oriented leader of the EPA and direct the EPA to regulate carbon emissions;
- Direct the EPA to survey the states and private organizations to collate all programs designed to promote renewable energy adoption;
- 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;
- 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.”
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.”
Announced Republican Candidates
President Donald J. Trump
Trump has not released any climate plans to date.
Trump’s campaign website touts the fact that he and his administration:
- “Kept [our] campaign promise to get America out of the Paris Climate Agreement”;
- “directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rescind the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP)”;
- “reconsidered Obama-era rule on methane emissions that would cost American energy developers an estimated $530 million annually”;
- “signed an Executive Order to expand offshore oil and gas drilling and open more leases to develop offshore drilling”;
- “approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, supporting an estimated total of 42,000 indirect jobs and $2 billion in wages”;
- “Signed legislation to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to domestic energy production.”
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.”
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:
- “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” (Nov 6, 2012)
- “It’s freezing outside, where the hell is ‘global warming’??” (May 25, 2013)
- “Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!” (Dec 6, 2013)
- “Wow, it’s snowing in Isreal and on the pyramids in Egypt. Are we still wasting billions on the global warming con? MAKE U.S. COMPETITIVE!” (Dec 14, 2013)
- “When will our country stop wasting money on global warming and so many other truly “STUPID” things and begin to focus on lower taxes?” (Feb 4, 2014)
- “It’s late in July and it is really cold outside in New York. Where the hell is GLOBAL WARMING??? We need some fast! It’s now CLIMATE CHANGE” (July 28, 2014)
- “Just out – the POLAR ICE CAPS are at an all time high, the POLAR BEAR population has never been stronger. Where the hell is global warming?” (Oct 29, 2014)
Gov. William Weld
Weld has not released any climate plans to date.
Weld’s campaign website does not include any references to climate change.
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.”
Colleagues who worked with Weld to pass environmental legislation during his time as Governor of Massachusetts describe him as “a great environmentalist” and “a 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.”