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2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates: Where They Stand On Climate Policy

Emily Dao



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


Europe’s Ambitious Green Deal: A Plan To Neutralize Its Carbon Footprint By 2050

Grit Daily



Through a new Green Deal, the EU plans to neutralize Europe’s carbon footprint by as early as 2050. While the plan is ambitious, it highlights the need for world leaders to work together. After all, it will take extensive collaboration to fight against climate change once and for all.

What Does The Green Deal Encompass?

The Green Deal encompasses everything from plastic bans to tightening restrictions on carbon emitting industries like oil and gas. At the same time, it will limit trade deals with countries that are not part of the Paris Agreement.

Europe is already leading the world in climate change efforts. And the Green Deal will jumpstart its position as one of the greatest initiatives for climate change thus far.

The ultimate goal for the Green Deal is to create a global response, particularly with the looming threat of trade embargo’s and restrictions on trade with countries that are not making an effort to combat climate change.

This turns attention toward places like the United States, which motioned to withdraw from the Paris Agreement in 2017.

In other countries, particularly in places like Indonesia and throughout the undeveloped world, the needed infrastructure for the level of change has not been set up.

Things like adequate waste management and access to clean drinking water mean that beaches and oceans are often littered with plastics, while carbon emissions are high due to a lack of regulations. (Though these numbers are in-line with emissions from more developed countries as well.)

The Details of the New Green Deal

The new Green Deal unveiled at the annual climate conference in Madrid earlier this month will unite most European countries to neutralize carbon emissions by 2050.

The union hopes to reach this goal by focusing its efforts on investing in industries that want to cut their emissions significantly.

This means new innovations for the steel industries, as well as vehicle and renewable energy.

These new laws could also see tighter restrictions on goods that are imported from places that don’t put heavy restrictions on carbon emissions.

Places like China, which are leading suppliers of consumer goods worldwide, are also one of the biggest carbon emissions culprits in the world.

The EU hopes to leverage its Green Deal restrictions to incentivize other countries to make smarter climate decisions.

What The Green Deal Means For Transportation and Shipping Companies

The reality of this Green Deal is that many transportation and shipping companies will have to acquire special permits in order to operate within the EU.

Maritime shipping companies, for example, will likely need to register their vessels and acquire permits in order to dock.

The EU could limit how many vessels operate in an effort to cut back on carbon emissions.

But the new Green Deal does not stop there. The EU also plans to invest greater efforts into plants and the preservation of nature.

Initiatives to plant more trees and stop deforestation throughout Europe will begin in the near future. Recently, the EU banned all pesticides that could negatively impact native bee populations.

Meanwhile in Germany, the country is working to convert its local train operations to more eco-friendly options than coal burning.

In France, the country’s recent single-use plastic ban will see a significant change in consumer habits over the next couple of decades. By 2025, the country hopes to use at least 60% biodegradable materials instead of plastics.

Hoping To Create a Domino Effect

Europe may be ahead of the curve when it comes to adjustments for climate change. But it has grander visions.

Now, it hopes to begin a domino effect by uniting governments around the world for a greater cause.

Note: This article was originally posted at Grit Daily by Julia Sachs and edited and syndicated with permission.

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Climate Inaction: Prime Minister Morrison’s Negligence Sparks Backlash As Bushfires Rage

Rich Bowden



Australia gets flamed for its climate inaction

The smoke blanketing the NSW capital of Sydney has highlighted the severity of the state’s bushfires — and climate inaction isn’t helping.

With the city’s air pollution reaching eleven times the hazardous level, and over 700 homes destroyed in the state, public pressure has mounted on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to link the bushfire emergency and climate change.

The Prime Minister is also facing a barrage of criticism from his ruling party.

NSW Liberal Energy Minister Matt Kean told the Smart Energy Summit that the bushfire tragedy had been foretold by scientists and fire emergency professionals.

In a strong rebuke of his own party’s climate policies, Kean told attendees weather conditions were abnormal. Yet at the same time, climate inaction continues to rage on.

“Not Normal” Weather, Yet No Action Taken By Prime Minister Morrison

“Longer drier periods, resulting in more drought and bushfire,” he said. “If this is not a catalyst for change, then I don’t know what is. This is not normal and doing nothing is not a solution.”

“We need to reduce our carbon emissions immediately, and we need to adapt our practices to deal with this kind of weather becoming the new normal.”

Kean elaborated on his extraordinary broadside on the ABC’s Radio National the next day.

“We’ve got a problem. [The emergency] is not changing my view – before the bushfires, my view was a very strong one… we need to be doing our bit to protect our environment.”

Viral Blog Post Signals Dissatisfaction With Morrison’s Climate Inaction

As well as causing divisions in his own party, Morrison has taken heat from ordinary Australians. It is partially due to climate inaction. But additionally, his refusal to assist volunteer firefighters has struck outrage among Australians.

An example of the outrage was the reaction to a powerful and engaging blog post written by author-educator Meg McGowan. In the post, she criticizes the PM’s statement that volunteer firefighters “want to be there” and therefore wouldn’t receive government assistance.

Meg’s husband Graham King is Deputy Captain in the local Central Coast brigade. He has been fighting fires in the region while making do with poor protective equipment to battle the thick smoke.

Such was the power, elegance, and timing of the article that it went viral with hundreds of thousands of views. This prompted national TV show The Project to ask Meg and Graham to film a segment with them.

Author Meg McGowan Shares That Morrison Adds To List Of Leaders Who Exhibit Climate Action

I asked Meg on behalf of theRising what she thought caused the post’s incredible popularity. Meg conceded that the answer wasn’t straightforward. She added that “Morrison is just the most recent in a long line of leaders that have failed to act”.

“Small changes two decades ago could have had a huge impact by now. The problem is now so severe that we need urgent action on a much larger scale.” 

Climate Action Fueled By Governmental Arrogance

She added that people are upset at the government’s arrogance towards firefighters and its inability to enact meaningful climate policies.

“Based on the comments I’m reading his seeming lack of empathy made a lot of people very angry, so I would say it was a major contributor, but you can never really know. It might be that people’s general frustration with the lack of action over climate change was the driver, or their frustrations at [environmental party] The Greens being blamed, or their sudden realization that firefighters are not superheroes but ordinary people doing a tough job,” she told me.

The bushfire crisis will continue as the Bureau of Meteorology predicts more dry weather over the next few months. And climate inaction won’t make that any better.

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30 States Cut Their Environmental Budget This Decade. Did Yours?

Ari Kelo



Climate refugee

A new report from the Environmental Integrity Project found that 30 US states have cut their environmental budget since 2008. Another 40 states have also reduced the size of their environmental agency’s staff. These cuts come as a great shock, considering the rising threat of the climate crisis in the past decade. And, with every state that slashes their environmental budget, the consequences sky-rise even more. We encourage you find out if your state is one of the culprits.

The Consequences Of A Reduced Environmental Budget

The consequences of reduced spending on environmental protections seem limitless. These state agencies protect public health, limit the harms of pollution, and even enact pollution control programs. They are vital to the health of both our communities and our planet at large.

And although many states have chosen to limit funding for environmental agencies, the demand for them has only grown. With sea levels on the rise, pollution expanding by the hour, and extreme weather events becoming more and more frequent, environmental protection programs have never been more needed.

Sadly, this trend of reduced funding goes beyond state-wide environmental agencies. In the same decade, Washington cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s work on pollution control and science by 16%. They reduced the EPA’s staff size by 16% as well.

The consequences of inadequate environmental funding go on and on. Understanding these future threats, it becomes even more necessary to know where your state stands.

So without further ado, here are the statistics regarding US environmental agencies between fiscal years 2008 and 2018. (Warning: they’re infuriating.)

The report shows that from 2008 and 2018:

  • 31 states cut funding for pollution control programs. In 25 of these states, those cuts amounted to at least 10%. And 16 states imposed cuts above 20%.
  • 40 states reduced the workforce of their environmental agency. Of these, 21 states cut their workforce by at least 10%. In 9 states, their environmental agencies lost at least 20% of their workforce.
  • Combined, the US lost 4,400 positions at environmental agencies from these budget cuts. (Excluding the 2,700 positions lost at the EPA.)
  • Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin cut the most funding from their environmental agencies.
  • In terms of cutting their agency workforce, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee did the most damage.
  • 3 states in particular cut far deeper into their funding. Texas cut its agency’s funding by a whopping 35%. North Carolina follows closely with 34% cuts and Illinois trails behind with a still alarming 25%. These states ironically cut environmental funding despite allowing general government spending to grow.
  • Alaska and Hawai’i were not included in this report.

To see where you state stands, check out this map, or access the full report here.

It goes without saying that apathy towards the environment plagues the United States’ governmental institutions. What’s worse, this chronic lack of concern for our planet within US politics will have disastrous impacts on the whole globe. It’s time to ensure better environmental policies across the US. A good first step? Starting with your own state.

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