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2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates: Where They Stand On Climate Policy

Emily Dao

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White House

A CNN poll discovered 82% of registered Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents cared about enacting aggressive policies to tackle climate change. With twenty-four Democrats currently running for office, it’s important for voters to know where the 2020 candidates stand on climate policy.

Despite voters’ concern for the nation’s approach to climate, few have announced detailed policy proposals to stop this crisis.

Joe Biden

What do we know about Joe Biden’s stance on climate change? | The Rising

Joe Biden has faced criticism by many Democrats for being too moderate on climate. However, Biden’s new $5 trillion climate proposal is a lot more expansive and progressive than critics expected.

Biden’s campaign said, “On day one, Biden will sign a series of new executive orders with an unprecedented reach that goes well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track.”

In Biden’s plan, he promised to rejoin the Paris Agreement and pressure and assist other foreign powers in committing to climate targets. Further, he hopes to invest in clean energy research and reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Biden plans to finance $1.7 trillion of the project from federal spending by undoing President Trump’s corporate tax cuts. The campaign says the rest will be funded by state and local governments, as well as private companies.

“Science tells us that how we act or fail to act in the next 12 years will determine the very livability of our planet,” Biden said in a statement. “That’s why I’m calling for a clean energy revolution to confront this crisis and do what America does best—solve big problems with big ideas.”

Bernie Sanders

Bernie labeled climate change as the "single greatest threat facing our planet" in the 2016 elections.
Bernie labeled climate change as the “single greatest threat facing our planet” in the 2016 elections.

Only recently has climate change become a priority among presidential candidates and a concern among voters. When Bernie labeled climate change as the “single greatest threat facing our planet” last election, few took him seriously.

Sanders’s view on the urgency of climate change

However, after growing concerns for climate change, what once seemed like an overly dramatic stance has become standard for many 2020 candidates. In fact, many 2020 contenders have echoed Sanders’ sentiment, declaring climate change as the nation’s most pressing threat today.

Candidates’ stance on the Green New Deal may also contribute to their popularity among voters. The bold non-binding resolution, introduced by AOC and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, aimed to address climate change and economic inequality. Although the resolution expectantly didn’t pass in the Republican-controlled Senate, conversation on climate change didn’t stop there. If anything, it only gave more attention to the call for environmental change.

Almost all of the Democratic candidates have either expressed support for the Green New Deal or proposed alternative plans. Six presidential candidates even co-sponsored the Green New Deal: Sanders, Warren, Booker, Harris, Klobuchar, and Gillibrand.

Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren calls for a $2 trillion climate plan spread over 10 years.
Senator Elizabeth Warren calls for a $2 trillion climate plan spread over 10 years.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren called for a $2 trillion climate plan to be spread over 10 years on clean energy research, manufacturing, and exporting in order to “achieve the ambitious targets of the Green New Deal,” according to Warren’s website.

Warren plans to invest $400 billion towards developing a National Institutes of Clean Energy modeled after the National Institutes of Health and commit the federal government to spend $150 billion annually for the next decade on products that are clean, environmentally-friendly, and American-made.

Warren’s three-part climate package would also include a $100 billion investment in the Green Marshall Plan, which would assist poorer countries expected to be most afflicted by the effects of climate change. This plan is a nod to the Marshall Plan from World War II, in which America helped fund the rebuilding of Western Europe.

An analysis by Moody’s showed Warren’s proposal would create a quarter-million jobs by 2020, with employment rising to 1.2 million come 2029.

Upon unveiling her plan at a campaign event in Detroit, Michigan, Warren said, “America has faced huge challenges before, WWII and putting a man on the moon. This environmental catastrophe bearing down on us may be the biggest challenge yet.”

Additionally, Warren proposed bicameral legislation alongside Texas Representative Veronica Escobar entitled the Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act (DCRRA). This bill would focus on protecting the military by modernizing their bases to be more resilient to the threat of climate change, as well as making military operations and infrastructure more energy-efficient to create, in Warren’s words, a “green military.”

Kamala Harris

California Senator Kamala Harris released a proposal aimed to alleviate damages created by climate change on low-income communities.
California Senator Kamala Harris released a proposal aimed to alleviate damages created by climate change on low-income communities.

The California Senator released a proposal aimed to alleviate damages created by climate change on low-income communities. Harris teamed up with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for what she’s called The Climate Equity Act, to ensure that all measures taken to fight climate change would also benefit vulnerable communities and groups. This newly unveiled plan would also include the establishment of an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability.

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete wants every American household to be a so-called "net-zero" consumer.
Mayor Pete wants every American household to be a so-called “net-zero” consumer.

Buttigieg and has voiced his thoughts on what he believes needs to be done. Mayor Pete wants every American household to be a so-called “net-zero” consumer, according to Grist. The mayor has also called for quadrupled funding for government research on renewable energy and energy storage, and vowed to ban all fossil fuel development on public lands.

Like Warren, though, Buttigieg doesn’t necessarily make climate policy a crucial part of his campaign. However, he agrees with the likes of AOC and others who are very passionate about sustainability and the environment.

Beto O’Rourke

O'Rourke proposed a $5 trillion climate plan.
O’Rourke proposed a $5 trillion climate plan.

Along with Inslee, former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet are among the sole presidential candidates with clear-cut proposals to fight against climate change. O’Rourke proposed a $5 trillion plan emphasizing the need for improved innovation and green infrastructure, while Bennet unveiled his own plan to allocate $1 trillion towards climate change funding. Bennet’s proposal also aims to develop greener technology and infrastructure. Both candidates’ proposals strive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang has a number of ideas a part of his climate policy.
Andrew Yang has a number of ideas a part of his climate policy.

Although Andrew Yang’s flagship policy is Universal Basic Income, he does indeed have a page dedicated to climate policy. On that page, he cites ambitions to invest in carbon capture and geoengineering. Further, Yang looks to revitalize the EPA, invest in urban development, and promote renewable energy adoption.

Recently, we reported that according to a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), Yang said that as president, he would dramatically improve the appeal of renewable energy, rejoin the Paris Agreement, implement a carbon fee and dividend, plant a lot of trees, and look towards geoengineering.

Jay Inslee

Governor Inslee is running on a climate platform.
Governor Inslee is running on a climate platform.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee currently leads the fight against climate change among his contenders, largely building his platform around the problem. Inslee has addressed the issue of climate change more thoroughly and frequently than any other candidate, proposing the most ambitious, detailed, and swiftest plan to combat climate change.

Inslee’s $9 trillion climate reform plan, which he calls “The Climate Mission,” has the hopes of achieving 100% clean energy by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2045. Funding would be allocated throughout the course of 10 years, and be used to invest in a cleaner manufacturing economy, modernized infrastructure, more scientific research, and increased jobs with benefits for citizens affected by the weakening of the fossil fuel industry, among others.

To say Inslee’s proposal is detail-oriented would be somewhat of an understatement. Inslee’s second climate change agenda was some 38 pages long, and Inslee plans on releasing three or four more packages addressing the issue.

Inslee also has proposed an environmental justice office, an agency dedicated towards helping low-income communities suffering from the effects of climate change. To do this, the governor said he would convert the White House Council on Environmental Quality into the Council on Environmental Justice.

Additionally, the 2020 election’s most aggressive candidate on climate proposed a ban on “forever chemicals” that pollute the drinking water for millions of Americans. Along with this, just before the second round of primary debates, Inslee released a 36-page climate justice plan. This acts as the fifth addition to Inslee’s otherwise 170-page plan.

However, despite Inslee’s assertive approach towards a cleaner planet, polling data indicates Inslee is barely on the majority of American citizens’ radar for the Democratic nomination.

Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar will put forth "sweeping legislation" to invest more money in clean, renewable energy and infrastructure among others.
Klobuchar will put forth “sweeping legislation” to invest more money in clean, renewable energy and infrastructure among others.

While Klobuchar endorsed the Green New Deal, she has stated it was more of an “aspirational” layout for actual legislation. On Klobuchar’s website, her priorities include reentering the Paris Agreement on day one of her presidency and reinstating the Obama administration’s clean power rules and fuel standards on day two and three.

It also states online that Klobuchar will put forth “sweeping legislation” to invest more money in clean, renewable energy and infrastructure among others.

John Hickenlooper

Governor Hickenlooper believes that the Green New Deal is unachievable.
Governor Hickenlooper believes that the Green New Deal is unachievable.

Thus far, the only Democratic candidate who has opposed the plan is former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Hickenlooper said that the Green New Deal was unachievable. His comments weren’t immune from criticism. Many on the left believe his comments come from his close relations with the gas and oil industry. On the other hand, Hickenlooper looks to encourage the government to work with the private sector rather than oppose it.

Bill de Blasio

Mayor de Blasio joins the fight against climate change.
Mayor de Blasio joins the fight against climate change.

New York City’s Mayor de Blasio is one of the greatest proponents for fighting climate change in the Democratic field. In his words, “We don’t debate climate change in New York City.”

He believes that the implications of climate change are clear. In his plan, de Blasio hopes to elevate parks and building flood barriers to tackle rising sea levels.

Recently, de Blasio also contributed to New York City’s styrofoam ban. As mayor, he made NYC the largest city to institute such a ban.

John Delaney

Delaney looks to implement a carbon tax and invest in greener technologies.
Delaney looks to implement a carbon tax and invest in greener technologies.

Former Maryland Representative John Delaney is one of the latest candidates to put forth a climate reform proposal. Delaney plans to implement a carbon tax and devote $4 trillion towards increased funding for the Department of Energy, specifically to invest in greener technology. Delaney hopes to eliminate 90% of the nation’s carbon emissions by 2050.

What’s Next?

The elections are well underway and the crisis of climate change only continues to become more pressing. Now, it’s just a waiting game to see which candidates choose to enact more aggressive policies to fight climate change.

Last updated: 29 July 2019. This is a developing story that will be updated as more candidates develop their own proposals to combat climate change. If we missed something, let us know at tips@mediusventures.com.

Politics

Let’s Say Trump Starts A War With Iran. What Would Happen To The Environment?

Ari Kelo

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Since President Trump assassinated Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani via drone-strike on January 3rd, the world has stood still with bated breath. Will war break out between the United States and Iran? If it does, it will certainly destroy lives, properties, and economies. But how would war with Iran affect the environment?

A War With Iran Could Expedite Ecocide

One of the many tragedies of war is the environmental toll it inflicts. And this toll will only be compounded by the constantly rising threat of climate collapse. As the climate crisis becomes more and more dangerous in the 2020s, war (let alone world war) will only expedite its advance.

Much of war’s environmental consequences arise from chemical pollution. Especially in war zones with heavy military vehicle presences, the oil residue will contaminate natural resources. In addition, the uranium found in discarded ammunition rounds can cause radiation, which hurts both plant and human life.

Ramifications of Chemical Weapons

Chemical weapons can also easily produce carcinogenic environments. High radiation levels from chemical warfare can increase the risk of cancer around war zones — alongside poisoning soil, water, and crops.

Not only that, but air force bases can generate toxic fuel spills. These spills contaminate drinking water sources and pollute land and natural resources. Wartime destruction of infrastructure, oil fields, and military bases also cause widespread oil and chemical leaks.

Deforestation Becomes a Bigger Threat

Deforestation becomes a bigger threat during wartime as well. As warfare increases the number of displaced peoples, they often must resort to using timber for warmth in the winter months. Warlords can then take advantage of this demand, furthering deforestation.

To make matters worse, bases will oftentimes purposefully burn military garbage. These ‘burn pits,’ alongside causing long-term health problems, are disastrous for the environment.

And What About Nukes?

A war with Iran, in particular, may promise an added threat. The U.S. has an extensive supply of nuclear weapons at its disposal, although Iran has not pursued a nuclear arsenal. If the U.S. or any other nuclear powers choose to pursue nuclear warfare, the environmental outlook is grim.

Researchers have analyzed the environmental consequences of small-scale nuclear war. Only 100 deployed nuclear weapons would toss so much sun-blocking soot into the atmosphere that the global temperature would lower one degree Celcius.

This may sound like a possible combative to global warming, but the temperature drop would distribute unevenly, mainly targeting inland areas responsible for agriculture. This could cause food insecurity — or nuclear famine — that could reach the whole globe.

If that doesn’t sound too pleasant to you, then you probably won’t like to hear that global precipitation rates would also plummet, as would the security of many food chains.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Carbon Footprint

All those consequences would certainly create an enormous environmental disaster. Unfortunately, another (even larger) environmental disaster must be considered. That disaster is the astronomical carbon footprint of the U.S. Department of Defense, which would only increase in the event of a war with Iran.

Since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S. military has emitted around 1,212 million metric tons of greenhouse gases. This is a larger figure than the greenhouse gas emissions of 140 nations combined.

And, based off of 2017 estimates, the military has emitted 59 million tons of carbon dioxide. The Department of Defense is also the number one institutional user of petroleum across the globe. Even without a war with Iran, these numbers are unsustainable.

And, in comparison, the U.S.’s climate defense budget is 0.2% of the Department of Defense’s budget.

All these alarming numbers add up to one climate catastrophe. If a war with Iran is imminent, so is further climate collapse.

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“Addressing climate change” is the #1 issue for 14% of voters in the 2020 election, poll finds

Avery Maloto

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Climate Debate Survey

The last year seems to have been an environmental wake-up call for many, realizing addressing climate change should be a top priority. From company policies to green technology, more and more organizations are engaging with eco-friendly practices. But it’s not just companies — it’s also people like you and me.

It’s not just anecdotal either. Polls and studies are repeatedly finding that people are indeed dedicated to addressing climate change — especially in the 2020 elections. 

With the 2020 elections fast approaching, the public is constantly assessing the qualities of presidential candidates. A new poll finds, almost unsurprisingly, that addressing climate change and protecting the environment are top priorities for many American voters.

New Poll Shows Addressing Climate Change is a Priority

According to an Environmental Voter Project poll, environmental issues are one of the leading voter concerns.

In fact, after assessing 1,514 U.S. registered voters, the team found that 14% of the sample designated “addressing climate change and protecting the environment” as their single most important issue. Additionally, the research notes that the group is primarily composed of 18-29-year-olds, Democrats, and individuals who self-identify as “very progressive”.

Although seemingly small, these numbers show exponential growth from previous data collected 4 years ago. During the 2016 Presidential election, only 2-6% of registered voters considered addressing climate as their prioritized issue

Environmental Voters Show Outstanding Dedication

Compared to previous years, individuals show a record-breaking motivation to participate in the 2020 presidential election

In fact, some 35% of sampled voters were willing to wait over an hour to cast their ballot. 

However, out of all categories, individuals who listed addressing climate change as their most important issue seem to display the most dedication to their civic duties. In this group, voters are willing to wait an average of an hour and 13 minutes to cast their ballot. This is approximately 10 minutes more than the next longest wait time. 

Storming Polling Booths in Waves

According to Nathaniel Stinnett, the founder of the project, “There are almost 30 million climate voters who are already registered to vote. That’s a huge constituency”. He continues to note that these numbers are approximately “four times the number of NRA members”. Historically, the NRA is a group that helped influence previous elections.

These numbers can only increase. With this, the overall political advocacy for the environment should strengthen over time.

Summary (oh, and Register to Vote!)

Although other matters such as healthcare and immigration seem to play an important role in voters’ minds, it’s comforting to see a trend in environmental dedication. However, it does not stop here.

From raging bushfires in Australia to the melting of the Arctic, it is evident that more effort needs to be put into addressing climate change.

Fortunately, we are becoming rapidly weary of the implications climate change has on the planet. Despite tens of millions of individuals already committed to voting for the environment, you can still play a role.

To ensure that our planet will have the proper protection, register to vote and make sure to stay up to date with the 2020 elections.

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Politics

The Real MEAT Act Of 2019: A Vicious Political Attack On Plant-Based Meat

Brian D'Souza

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Plant-based meat has gained significant traction in the past year as companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods released their products to a mainstream audience. Using ingredients like soy, beetroot, and herbs to create a surprisingly convincing plant-based burger, these companies have received generally positive reception from consumers and critics alike.

The market is growing at a rapid pace too; in fact, some estimates show that the plant-based meat market could reach $85 billion in the next decade. Hence, it is unsurprising that the beef industry is worried about plant-based meat taking market share. But what is surprising is the way the industry is fighting back.

Introducing the Real MEAT Act, a piece of legislation supported by strong political and financial backing from some of the most prominent companies in the meat industry.

How the Fight Between Plant-based Meat and the Meat Industry Began

Though on one hand consumers have found plant-based meat to be tasty, they are also an environmentally-friendly substitute. Providing a valuable nutrition source at a fraction of the energy necessary for naturally-sourced beef, plant-based meat is giving the beef industry a run for its money.

Today, the methane that cows belch out is one of the many sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, cattle herds require wide swaths of cleared land. Land clearing has most recently allowed the Amazon fires to ensue.

These sustainability concerns have made plant-based meat all the more appealing for consumers and companies like Beyond Meat and others.

The beef industry is worried; hence, it is looking to take competitors down with legislation.

Introducing The Real MEAT Act of 2019

In October, Representatives Roger Marshall (Republican, Kentucky) and Anthony Brindisi (Democrat, New York) introduced the Real MEAT Act to the House.

MEAT stands for Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully, which nicely caps off an obvious bow to vested interests with a succinct acronym. The bill received raucous applause from NCBA (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association) elites, their profits seemingly assured.

The bill asserts that plant-based meat products are confusing customers. Though the bill makes no specific mention of any companies, it seems to assert that companies like Beyond Meat are ruthlessly deceiving customers.

The Real MEAT Act would force these companies to stop using words like “burger”, “sausage”, and “meat” in their products. Instead, legislation would force companies that sell plant-based meat to use clinical and un-appetizing adjectives to describe their products.

That, unsurprisingly, would likely lead to decreased sales.

Understanding the Real MEAT Act and Its Interests

More recently, Nebraska Senator (Republican) and career cattle rancher Deb Fischer proposed the Real MEAT Act in the Senate. She defended her bill in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Deb Fisher proposed the Real Meat Act of 2019 in the Senate.
Deb Fisher proposed the Real Meat Act of 2019 in the Senate.

The article features a plethora of willfully obstinate and patently false arguments, but this is one of them: 

“Many of these fake-meat companies are running smear campaigns against actual beef, using deceptive labeling and marketing practices. This has left consumers confused about the ingredients and nutritional values of so-called beef alternatives.” — Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer

What the Real MEAT Act Means for Plant-Based Meat

The bill seems to have a nefarious motivation behind it, but there’s a chance that it still passes. On the bright side, a federal judge recently swatted down a similar bill from Arkansas state legislature.

The Real MEAT Act, however, is supported by financial and political backing on a nationwide scale.

What You Can Do Today To Help

If you are for free-market competition in the beef industry, consider calling your Congressional Representative today. Urge them to speak against the Real MEAT Act.

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