The Rising

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How Much Does The Climate Change Issue Actually Matter In The 2020 Elections?

3 min read
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As 23 Democrats and two Republicans (including President Trump) have announced their bid for president in 2020, various candidates are coming out with their own flagship policies. For Washington Governor Jay Inslee, climate change is front and center; so much so, he’s made it his platform.

Now, the climate debate has risen to the point where it’s finally an issue that’s being discussed. For instance, we look at the Green New Deal, The Evergreen Economy, etc. – there’s no question that the climate debate is becoming increasingly mainstream. But the New York Times published an article on how climate change is catching on but Jay Inslee isn’t.

That brings to light a very important question: How much does the climate debate actually matter in the 2020 elections? That is, there’s no doubt politicians should be talking about the environment, but will a platform like Inslee’s move the needle for voters or get him the Democratic nomination?

Some influential politicians don’t think so. In late 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown said of the climate change issue: “It’s too remote. It’s not today…Climate change is not jobs, not taxes, it’s not violent crime. It’s not sex. And it’s not immigration.” And he might’ve been right at the time. But statistics show that times may be different now.

Statistics on Voter Appeal

CNN polls showed that some 82% of young voting Democrats saw climate change as a “top priority”, ahead of other more mainstream issues including healthcare and gun reform.

A POLITICO poll took a less partisan look at the numbers. Remember Trump’s climate change report? Its dire results worried some two-thirds of voters according to the said poll. To break it down further, some 47% of Republicans are worried about the report; some 87% of Democrats and 65% of independents agree.

Yale and George Mason University found through three survey cycles that 84% of its respondents voiced a directional shift towards being more concerned about the climate change issue.

Remember the Paris Agreement? Some 70% of Americans believe that the United States should participate in it, according to Yale.

In short, it’s starting to look like climate change is starting to become a more mainstream issue that voters are looking to capitalize on in 2020. Governor Inslee, who has made his platform mainly on the environment, might be onto something. Especially because registered Democrats are particularly keen on climate policy.

Republican Presidential Candidates On Climate Change

No doubt, moving the needle when it comes to climate change requires an effort from both the Democratic and Republican parties. Altogether, an issue like climate change is one that, in theory, should be bipartisan.

Donald J. Trump

Trump announced that he’d pull the United States from the Paris Agreement in June 2017. More recently, Trump’s administration is looking to roll back critical greenhouse gas emissions regulations initiated during the Obama White House. It’s been no surprise that Trump doesn’t like at climate change as a critical issue. What he believes has echoed through Congress – he’s not solely to blame.

Bill Weld

The little-known Republican Presidential Candidate, Trump’s only competitor, is currently a Partner at the Mintz Levin Law Firm and was formerly on the Gary Johnson ticket as Vice-President in 2016. He, unlike Trump, if elected, looks to have the United States rejoin the Paris Agreement, per Axios. According to E&E News, Weld’s friends describe him to be a ‘great environmentalist’. Although that much is unclear. His campaign website doesn’t cite his stance or policy proposals with respect to climate change.

Conclusions

Undoubtedly, the climate debate is going to be incredibly important in 2020. Statistics show that voters care about the environment more than they ever have, and that’s going to show through in our next presidential election. But like many other issues, tackling them requires bipartisan support.

Oil and gas lobbying makes that difficult sometimes. We’ll have to see how the election plays out, but it won’t be surprising to see more candidates announce their thoughts on climate policy.