The 2020 Candidates on Climate Change


Where are the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates on the issue of climate change?

Climate change was identified by the 2018 midterm voters as one of their most pressing concerns, and is one of the seven issues I covered in my 2020 candidate guides. Many of the readers here at Political⚡Charge asked me to organize the information in those guides by issue, and so, by popular demand, here we are.

In alpha order, here are where the 2020 candidates stand on the issue of climate change. You can click on the candidate’s names to go their campaign website to learn more.

Michael Bennet

Paris Climate Accord: “Mr. Bennet is in line with the rest of the Democratic field in calling for recommitting to the Paris Agreement.” Source

Green New Deal: Michael Bennet unveiled his plan to fight climate change. “Bennet’s plan aims to put the nation on a path to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or earlier.” Source

Climate Legislation: “In March, he helped create the Senate Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, and last month, he was co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would provide tax incentives for energy storage.” Source

Environmental Accountability: The League of Conservation Voters gave Michael Bennet a score of 89% for his voting record. Source


Joe Biden

Paris Climate Accord: “As vice president, he helped orchestrate the Paris climate accord, which he has called the “best way to protect our children and global leadership.” Source

Green New DealBiden has not yet commented on the Green New Deal. (As of May 9.)

Climate Policy: “As a senator, he supported tax credits for renewable energy and had an 83 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters.” Source

Regulations: “[A]s vice president, he supported a series of emission reduction regulations that Mr. Obama established but Mr. Trump is reversing.” Source 

Environmental Record: “Mr. Biden’s advocacy for government action on climate change goes back more than 30 years: He introduced the Senate’s first climate change bill in 1986.” Source


Cory Booker

Paris Climate Accord: “When it comes to addressing an issue as urgent as climate change, President Trump is just plain wrong: it’s not economy versus the environment or America versus the world. It’s future versus past; progress and opportunity versus retreat and surrender. Leaving the Paris Agreement means the US will lag behind the rest of the world in creating the jobs of the future and it will set back our collective efforts to confront the dangers of climate change.” Source

Green New Deal: “Mr. Booker said Friday that “environmental justice” will be one of the three top policy issues of his campaign. He has recently signed on to endorse the Green New Deal.” Source

Climate Legislation: “Climate change is a pressing economic and national security crisis that especially threatens coastal areas in New Jersey. By even conservative estimates, New Jersey can expect to see a foot and a half of sea level rise by 2050 if no action is taken. … As a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Booker has stood up for cleaner, healthier communities. He has worked to ban oil drilling off of New Jersey’s coastline, clean up Superfund sites, improve air quality, support animal welfare safeguards, and strengthen national chemical safety laws to better protect families from toxic substances.” Source

Environmental Accountability: “In September 2018, Booker was one of eight senators to sponsor the Climate Risk Disclosure Act, a bill described by cosponsor Elizabeth Warren as using “market forces to speed up the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy — reducing the odds of an environmental and financial disaster without spending a dime of taxpayer money.” Source


Pete Buttigieg

Paris Climate Accord: “Buttigieg was one of 407 U.S. mayors who signed a pact to adhere to the Paris climate accord after President Donald Trump pulled out of the international agreement 2017.” Source

Green New Deal: “To me what’s really important about the Green New Deal isn’t like one of the elements of it, it’s the concept. It’s the concept that we have a national emergency commensurate with a depression or a war. And then the second part of it, the concept that, in rising to meet that challenge, there’s a ton of economic opportunity. To me, that’s what’s really appealing about it. Also, the Green New Deal today is a set of goals, not a fully articulated plan. Which is fine.” Source 

Intergenerational Justice: If you thought in terms of the effects of public policy on millennials, he said, you began to see generational imbalances everywhere. … Cutting taxes for the richest Americans meant that young people, inevitably, would have to pay the bill. Climate policy, he said, was the deepest example of the imbalance.” Source

Climate Solutions: “Buttigieg considers climate change a national security threat and a “longterm” problem that will especially impact younger Americans and future generations. He supports every U.S. house becoming “net zero” consumer of energy, and is in favor of the government subsidizing solar panels.” Source


Julian Castro

Paris Climate Accord: “Castro has criticized President Donald Trump for withdrawing from the Paris climate change accord. Castro’s overall approach in public office was to try to convince businesses to increase their reliance on renewable energy voluntarily. (While he was mayor of San Antonio, the local utility committed to close a coal plant and embrace a 20 percent renewables goal.) Source 

Green New Deal: “We’re gonna say no to subsidizing big oil and say yes to passing a Green New Deal.” Source 

Combatting Climate Change: “You’re right that oftentimes when a lot of Americans think about energy efficiency they think about being environmentally responsible, folks tend to think that well that something for people that have a lot of resources, driving electric car or installing rooftop solar.  The fact is that the declining cost of solar and the declining cost of being energy efficient in general is making that more and more affordable for middle-class Americans and folks of modest means. … So it really is a new era where everyone can participate in combating climate change.” Source 

Environmental Record: “While he was the mayor of San Antonio, Castro pushed the city’s public utility to close a 900-megawatt coal-powered plant, adopt a 20 percent renewable energy by 2020 pledge, and offer green jobs training. The city also launched a small car-sharing program and a bike-share system aimed at making transportation greener under his leadership.” Source 


John Delaney

Paris Climate Accord: “I would re-enter the Paris Agreement and make the U.S. a global leader in climate policy and new energy technology. With a carbon tax and an investment in negative emissions technology, we can reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and can be at net-zero carbon by 2050.” Source

Green New Deal: “He voiced support for, “the energy behind the Green New Deal,” but opposition to the resolution itself.” Source

Climate Policy: “We can’t compete in a 21st century economy with a 20th century energy policy. We need to develop a national energy policy focused on two goals: 1) becoming a global leader in domestic energy production and alternative energy technology and 2) properly responding to climate change. For this reason, I am proud to be a member of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition.” Source

Carbon Tax: “Last November, Delaney co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that looked to impose an initial $15-per-ton carbon “fee” on fossil fuel producers, processors and importers.” Source

Environmental Record: Delaney has a 93% lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, based on his voting record in Congress.  Source


Kirsten Gillibrand

Paris Climate Accord: “A decision by President Trump to leave the Paris Accord would be irresponsibly shortsighted and harmful to the United States. There is no credible doubt that climate change is real and is caused by human activity. … Our children’s generation will have to deal with the potentially catastrophic effects of a shortsighted and dangerous decision to leave the Paris Accord, and I urge all New Yorkers and all Americans who care about our health, our security, and our economy to raise their voices and speak out forcefully against this reported decision.” Source

Green New Deal: Gillibrand backs the Green New Deal. “Climate change is an immediate and catastrophic threat to our future. And yes, it’s real. We need to: get to net-zero carbon emissions, invest in clean energy and green jobs, update infrastructure and build community resiliency.” Source

Carbon Emissions: “Writing in the Wall Street Journal in 2009, Gillibrand proposed establishing a cap-and-trade commodity market to mandate a limit on carbon emissions and allow businesses to trade their emissions allowances as commodities. In addition, she has proposed the “Keep it in the Ground Act,” which would ban any new leases for gas or oil drilling on federal lands.” Source 

Legislation: Gillibrand was the primary sponsor of the Microbead-Free Waters Act which was signed into law in 2015. The bill prohibits the sale or distribution of cosmetics containing synthetic plastic microbeads. Source

Voting Accountability: The League of Conservation Voters gives Gillibrand a 95% lifetime score (and 100% in 2018) for her pro-environment voting record. Source


Kamala Harris

Paris Climate Accord: “Harris criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Additionally, Harris opposed the Trump administration’s proposal to reverse Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks.” Source 

Green New Deal: Kamala Harris is co-sponsoring the Green New Deal resolution. Source 

Climate Legislation: “Attorney General Harris has defended California’s landmark climate laws against attacks by the oil industry and other states. …As Attorney General, Harris has fought and won several key environmental legal battles including a lawsuit to reduce diesel truck pollution in the Port of Long Beach and a lawsuit in San Diego requiring revisions to a development plan that incentivized freeway construction over alternatives that could improve public health.” Source

Environmental Accountability: “”As California’s attorney general, Harris launched an investigation into Exxon Mobil in 2016, after reports that the oil and gas giant lied for decades about the risks of climate change.” Source 

Environmental Accountability: “In 2011, Harris received the CLCV Environmental Leadership Award in part because of her work in a lawsuit to hold a metal factory in Mira Loma accountable for their run-off, which was harming the surrounding community. Kamala Harris previously served as a District Attorney in San Francisco, where she created the first division in the county focused on environmental justice and economically poor communities who disproportionately suffer from pollution.” Source 


John Hickenlooper

Paris Climate Accord: “Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Tuesday that Colorado will join the U.S. Climate Alliance — a group of more than a dozen states set on upholding the Paris Climate Accord goals, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw the country as a whole.” Source

Green New Deal: “Hickenlooper has said he supports the idea of the Green New Deal but has stopped short of embracing any specific portion of the resolution in Congress.” Source

Climate Legislation: When the Trump administration backed off of methane gas regulations, Hickenlooper fought back in court. Source

Environmental Record: “A former geologist, Hickenlooper has regularly tried to strike a balance between protecting the environment and protecting Colorado’s oil and gas economy. Throughout his two terms as governor, Hickenlooper pushed for tougher regulations, including developing what he calls the toughest methane gas regulations in the country.” Source


Jay Inslee

Record: “Inslee has long been a champion of climate change action and is making the issue the centerpiece of his presidential run. As a member of Congress, Inslee backed the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill that passed the House but ultimately failed in the Senate.” Source

Record: “Inslee is the only one who has actually run a government that has made climate-change policy central. He points to the towns in Washington that have become solar-cell farms, among other accomplishments.” Source

Paris Climate Accord: “He also co-founded and co-chaired the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of 17 U.S. governors working to uphold America’s goals from the Paris Agreement.” Source

Green New Deal: “Mr. Inslee has praised the Green New Deal … for elevating public discussion of climate change and acknowledging the scale of the action needed. But he has also described it as more of an “aspirational” outline of principles than a policy document.” Source

Climate Legislation: “As governor, Inslee pushed unsuccessfully for the nation’s first state-level carbon tax. He has also proposed lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and converting state ferries into electric hybrids, among other initiatives.” Source

Environmental Accountability: “In 2015, he ordered Washington’s Department of Ecology to impose a cap on carbon emissions. He created a fund for clean energy, and the state now has extensive solar energy infrastructure and electric buses.” Source

Policy Outline: “”We must strive to achieve net-zero carbon pollution by midcentury, create a 100 percent clean-energy grid, and deploy new strategies and massive investments to transition off fossil fuels and decarbonize transportation, buildings and industries.” Source


Amy Klobuchar

Paris Climate Accord: Klobuchar has stated that she would have the U.S. rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. Source  In November 2018, Klobuchar was one of 25 Democratic senators to cosponsor a resolution in response to findings of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change report and National Climate Assessment. The resolution affirmed the senators’ acceptance of the findings and their support for bold action to address climate change. Source

Green New Deal:  ““I think they are aspirations. I think we can get close. I don’t think we are going to get rid of entire industries in the US. This is put out there, as an aspiration, in that it’s something that we need to move toward. Do I think we could cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ in 10 years? Actually, I think that would be very difficult to do.” Source

New Energy: “We must commit ourselves to protecting our environment and preserving our natural resources for generations to come. We also need to chart a new energy future – one that creates jobs, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, increases domestic energy production, keeps energy costs affordable for all Americans, and responds to the challenges of global climate change.” Source

Climate Legislation: Klobuchar was a lead sponsor of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, an Act to provide for improvements to the rivers and harbors of the United States, to provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, to provide for water pollution control activities, and for other purposes. Source

Carbon Reduction: In December 2014, Klobuchar was one of six Democratic senators to sign a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency urging the agency to give states more time to comply with its rule on power plants as the final rule “must provide adequate time for the design, permitting and construction of such large scale capital intensive infrastructure” and calling for an elimination of the 2020 targets in the final rule, a mandate that states take action by 2020 as part of the EPA’s goal to reach a 30 percent carbon cut by 2030. Source 

Environmental Record: Klobuchar has a 95% rating from the League of Conservation Voters, based on her voting record. Source 


Beto O’Rourke

Paris Climate Accord: “He supports the Paris climate accords, and has also made a point of emphasizing effects that climate change is having: more storms like Hurricane Harvey, for instance, which devastated Texas.” Source

Green New Deal: “Mr. O’Rourke spoke positively about the Green New Deal, calling it technically and logistically doable.” Source

Climate Action: “O’Rourke also stressed the importance of looking at the problem from an economic point of view. He pointed out that we will have to spend billions of dollars on issues like keeping our coastlines safe, instead of, for instance, making tuition affordable for anyone who gets into college.” Source

Environmental Record: O’Rourke has a 95% rating from the League of Conservation Voters, based on his voting record in Congress. Source


Bernie Sanders

Paris Climate Accord: While Sanders was initially critical that the Paris Climate Accord didn’t go far enough (Source), he opposed Trump pulling out of the accord: “Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement would be a horrific mistake. This extraordinary crisis calls out for international cooperation.” Source

Green New Deal: Sanders supports the Green New Deal, and is a co-sponsor of the resolution. Source

Carbon Tax: “Sanders would institute a carbon tax and aim to slash U.S. emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030, and 80 percent by 2050. He would end all federal subsidies for the gas, oil and coal industries.” Source

Environmental Record: Sanders has a 92% lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, based on his voting record in Congress. Source


Eric Swalwell

Paris Climate Accord: “He has also expressed strong disapproval of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.” Source

Green New Deal: “Swalwell has voiced support for the Green New Deal, the progressive climate action bill that House Democrats introduced in February.” Source ““If you’re a worker who is on a [gas or oil] pipeline, you should have a skills and wage guarantee as you transition from dirty fossil fuels to a green economy,” he said.” Source

Climate Action: “Climate change is an urgent crisis threatening our environment, our public health and safety, and future economic well-being. That’s why last week I led 140 of my colleagues in opposition to President Trump’s budget proposal to roll back America’s investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Instead, we urged spending more on these necessary programs, which will help improve how we use and produce energy.” Source

Legislation:  “In Congress, Swalwell has cosponsored legislation to further regulate hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” fund clean energy research and development, ban offshore drilling in California, and protect parts of the Alaskan wilderness from drilling.” Source

Environmental Record: The League of Conservation Voters has Swalwell with a lifetime score of 95% for his voting record. Source


Elizabeth Warren

Paris Climate Accord: When Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, Warren noted, “This isn’t jobs versus the environment. This is a big gift to Republican donors.” Source

Green New Deal: “Senator Warren has been a longtime advocate of aggressively addressing climate change and shifting toward renewables, and supports the idea of a Green New Deal to ambitiously tackle our climate crisis, economic inequality, and racial injustice.” Source

Climate Legislation: Warren proposed the Climate Risk Disclosure Act, to require companies to tell the public and investors about “their fossil fuel holdings, how climate policies would impact them and how climate effects like rising sea levels could hurt them.” Warren: “Our bill will use market forces to speed up the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy — reducing the odds of an environmental and financial disaster without spending a dime of taxpayer money.” Source

Environmental Record: Warren has a 99% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, an organization that keeps tabs on how politicians vote on the environment. Source

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3 replies

  1. @TokyoSand Still would like to see a 7 Issues piece on Andrew Yang. He has loads of policies on his website and he does have an important perspective.

  2. Reblogged this on Bennet Kelley's Clippings & More and commented:
    Political Charge’s ongoing profiles – 2020 Candidates on Climate Change.

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