2020 Republican Presidential Candidates: Where They Stand On Climate Policy
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2020 Republican Presidential Candidates: Where They Stand On Climate Policy

2020 Republican Presidential Candidates: Where They Stand On Climate Policy

William Weld

The Rising staff writer Emily Dao recently covered where all of the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates stand on climate policy. Some Democrats do seem to be focused on releasing detailed policy proposals to combat climate change. But where do the Republicans stand?

So far, there are two Republican candidates for president: the incumbent, President Donald Trump, and businessman William Weld, who also happens to be a former Governor of Massachusetts and VP candidate on the Gary Johnson ballot in 2016.

Donald Trump

donald trump

Starting with Trump’s most recent statements, it is clear that he doesn’t really believe that there is a climate crisis. This is a clear a point of contention he would have with Democrats including Inslee and O’Rourke. Specifically, during an interview with Piers Morgan, when asked if he believed in climate change, Trump responded: “I believe there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways.”

VICE News climate change contributor Alex Lubben was critical on this idea of the weather changing both ways. Evidence published by NASA seems to support Lubben’s criticism. It seems unequivocal that carbon emissions levels are rising and global warming is happening.

Knowing where Trump stands on climate makes evaluating his policy a lot easier. Because Trump has rolled back some 84 environmental rules, it’s most feasible to cover the more critical ones. Here are some of the key rollbacks he’s made:

  • In June of 2017, Trump announced that he would have the United States stop its participation in the Paris Agreement. The withdrawal would be finalized in 2020, at the earliest.
  • Make it unnecessary for oil and gas corporations to report methane emissions statistics.
  • Un-ban the use of chlorofluorocarbons in ACs and refrigerators.
  • Stop using Obama-era “social cost of carbon” calculations that let legislators effectively predict the ramifications of emissions.
  • Reduce water pollution regulations pertaining to lands belonging to Indians.
  • Completely roll back regulations passed in the Obama administration to mandate governments to make infrastructural considerations to account for rises in sea level.
  • Open new land in habitats of endangered species for drilling purposes.
  • Repeal rules for coal companies to dump rubbish into rivers.
  • Reduce American funding to the United Nations’s Green Climate Fund, an initiative looking to help poorer countries mitigate the ramifications of carbon emissions.

To get a fuller picture, feel free to check out the New York Times’s coverage on all 84 rollbacks.

Altogether though, Trump clearly doesn’t see climate change as a mainstream problem, at least not one his administration looks to solve. It will be interesting to see if he will introduce ‘cleaner’ policy proposals for the 2020 elections as voter concern about climate change continues to mount.

William Weld

William Weld

Unlike Trump, Weld agrees with 70% of Americans who believe the United States should participate in the Paris Agreement. Based on Axios’s reporting, Weld has promised to have the United States rejoin the Paris Agreement.

Additionally, he told reporters at Hill.TV that “The burden of climate change is going to fall on you all if nothing is done.” A step further, Weld cited climate change as one of the two crucial reasons he’s running for President in 2020.

On a separate occasion, Weld told NHPR radio host that he disagreed with Trump’s sentiment on oil and gas. “You know fossil fuels are the past…not the future,” said Weld. Currently, there is no reason to believe he would support renewable energy. At the same time, it is too early to rule that possibility out either.

There is, so far, no evidence to suggest Weld would help big oil and gas legislatively if elected President. But some would argue that being moderate on climate isn’t enough.

Weld has yet to release climate policy on his campaign website. What he would do for the environment as President remains to be seen. What we can expect though is something between AOC and Trump, to cast a wide net.


The Republican field isn’t homogenous across the board. Not every politician lets lobbyists of big oil and gas firms buy them out. And that’s exactly why it’s important to follow the money.

We’ll be sure to let you know who’s who when it comes to climate in 2020 so you can make your own informed decision.

The Rising staff will update this developing story as more candidates develop their own climate policy or existing candidates add to theirs.

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