Climate change was predicted to be a hot topic for the first democratic presidential debates. Despite pressure from activists, the issue received just seven minutes of airtime on the first night of the debates and eight minutes on the second night. Still, it is important to be informed on where each person stands when it comes to the climate crisis. Below is a breakdown of the candidates’ current climate platforms (in no particular order).
Jay Inslee (Governor, WA)
Inslee has established himself as “the climate candidate.” Vox’s climate reporter went so far as to say that other candidates should simply adopt Inslee’s climate plan as their own platforms, as it is the only plan that adequately address the gravity of the crisis. Inslee’s Our Climate Movement plan includes:
• Eliminating carbon emissions by 2045
• Investing $9 trillion in clean energy, green jobs and resilient infrastructure
• Phasing out fossil fuel production
Joe Biden (former Vice President)
On June 4, Biden released a $1.7 trillion Clean Energy Revolution plan, which includes:
• 100 percent net-zero emissions by 2050
• Investing in resilient infrastructure
• Committing to the Paris Agreement
• Spurring economic growth and green jobs
Biden’s platforms are generally more moderate than other candidates, and he is wooing the labor unions. While some activists are sour about his appeal to moderate votes, others believe his ability to garner bipartisan support and labor votes may make him more effective in pushing through legislation. On June 27, Biden signed a pledge to refuse campaign money from oil companies.
Elizabeth Warren (Senator, MA)
Warren’s main focus is taking down big banks and big oil companies, including protecting public lands from oil corporations. She backed the Green New Deal, supports a ban on fracking and wants to focus on green job development and industries. She has also presented a plan to greatly reduce emissions produced by the military.
Amy Klobuchar (Senator, MN)
Klobuchar backed the Green New Deal and supports further development of nuclear energy as an alternative to dirty fossil fuels. Her proposal, released on March 28, includes a major investment in infrastructure adaptation and clean energy. She will also reinstate clean power rules and gas mileage standards and will rejoin the Paris Agreement.
Seth Moulton (Representative, MA)
Moulton backed the Green New Deal, plans to focus on green jobs and supports further innovation in carbon sequestration with farmers and rural communities.
Kirsten Gillibrand (Senator, NY)
Gillibrand co-sponsored the Green New Deal and avidly supported a carbon tax in the past. She opposes opening new land and water to oil drilling and supported legislation that would help the U.S. surpass its previous Paris Agreement commitment.
Tim Ryan (Representative, OH)
Ryan has defended his moderate stance on climate change and commitment to prioritizing jobs development and economic growth. He is critical of a carbon tax, arguing it would encourage companies to take jobs overseas.
Pete Buttigieg (Mayor, South Bend IA)
Buttigieg supports the Green New Deal, nuclear energy and a ban on fracking. He wants to focus on solutions that center low-income Americans and mentioned putting rural communities at the forefront of climate adaptation, such as supporting carbon sequestration innovation among farmers. He is also in favor of a carbon tax. Buttigieg would recommit to the Paris Climate Agreement and plans to decarbonize transportation and industries as well as support energy efficiency in homes.
Marianne Williamson (author)
Williamson wants to close existing nuclear power reactors and ban fracking. She supports the Green New Deal.
Tulsi Gabbard (Representative, HI)
Gabbard has been outspoken about climate action during her time in Congress. She supports aspects of the Green New Deal, including reaching carbon neutrality, but does not support nuclear power unless there is a solution for nuclear waste. She also supports a ban on fracking.
Bill de Blasio (Mayor, New York City)
Mayor de Blasio recently passed New York City’s own version of a Green New Deal, so he is expected to be an advocate for progressive climate action.
Kamala Harris (Senator, CA)
Harris has not taken a firm stance on a fracking ban, nuclear energy nor a carbon tax. She has come out in support of the Green New Deal and promised to rejoin the Paris Agreement.
Joe Sestak (former Representative, PA)
Bernie Sanders (Senator, VT)
Sanders’ climate platform on his campaign website promises to:
• Pass the Green New Deal
• Invest in infrastructure for front-line communities
• Reduce transportation-related pollution
• Ban fracking and drilling
• End exports of coal, gas and oil
Corey Booker (Senator, NJ)
Booker officially backed the Green New Deal, supports nuclear energy and wants to ban fracking. He also has an outspoken commitment to climate justice and to addressing the disproportionate impact that the climate crisis has on people of color and low-income families.
Beto O’Rourke (former Representative, TX)
O’Rourke has a $5 trillion climate plan that aims for net-zero emissions by 2050, but he still supports natural gas. His plan also includes $1.2 trillion in grants for energy and economic transformation at the community level.
John Hickenlooper (former governor, CO)
• Rejoining the Paris Agreement
• Making $100 billion available annually in climate finance
• Establishing a climate corps national service program
Michael Bennet (Senator, CO)
Bennet believes the U.S. should continue using natural gas and has not signed on the Green New Deal. On May 20, he released a climate plan with eight points:
• Create 10 million green jobs by 2030
• Launch a 2030 climate challenge to push states to develop climate plans
• Conserve 30 percent of land and oceans by 2030
• Establish a climate bank with $1 trillion to spend on infrastructure by 2030
• Cut energy waste in half by 2040
• Achieve 100 percent clean emissions by 2050
• Decarbonize agriculture
• Develop options for houses to purchase retrofits, renewable energy and zero-emissions vehicles
Andrew Yang (entrepreneur)
Yang’s website mentions support for fossil fuel regulation and investment in renewable energy both for the environment and for the economy. He also favors a carbon tax and dividend but believes much of the climate action needs to happen at the state and local level, with general support from the federal government. Despite this view, Yang does have plans to invest in carbon capture technology and create a Global Geoengineering Institute to fight climate change.
Steve Bullock (Governor, MT)
Bullock said he would rejoin the Paris Agreement and invest in renewable energy; however, he does not support the Green New Deal nor does he think it will get very far. Bullock also has a long record of supporting the coal industry in his home state of Montana.
Wayne Messam (Mayor, Miramar FL)
When pressed for his ideas about the climate crisis, Messam told radio station WBUR that he would develop an infrastructure bill that focused on resilience for bridges, dams and levees. He would transition the country to renewable energies and transition fossil fuel jobs toward the green economy.
John Delaney (former Representative, MD)
Delaney supports nuclear power and does not support the Green New Deal. He released a $4 trillion dollar climate plan that includes:
• Establishing a carbon tax
• Promoting negative emissions technology
• Increasing renewable energy budget
• Developing a climate corps national service program
• Creating a pipeline network that delivers carbon dioxide to oil fields for sequestration
Julián Castro (former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development)
Castro supports the Green New Deal and was one of only three candidates to say climate change will be the No. 1 priority of his presidency. He has mentioned that his first action as president would be to rejoin the Paris Agreement, and he is opposed to subsidizing oil corporations.
Greenpeace developed a report card to grade all candidates on their climate policies. See the visual here.
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