Candidate Catchup: Climate Policies of Presidential Hopefuls

By Lucie Abele PO ’22

With increasingly unpredictable weather patterns across the globe, from raging wildfires in California and Australia to droughts and tropical storms, climate is among the political issues that matter most to voters as of December 2019. The climate policies of each of six potential presidential candidates, selected from the frontrunners of the Republican and Democratic parties, are discussed. For the Republican party, President Donald Trump is considered the only major candidate as his current approval ratings from Republican voters are eighty-nine percent. For the Democratic party, the race is much closer, and the policies of the five candidates who polled the highest as of January 2020 (Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar)[3] are presented.


As the climate crisis intensifies, Trump’s actions proceed in the opposite direction. In July 2017, Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement. Recently, Trump has proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act that would remove climate as a consideration in new infrastructure projects. Critics say that Trump has a “disregard” and “blatant indifference” for climate change and that his actions regarding the environment are a political effort to reverse Obama-era policies.


Each Democratic candidate advocates for the implementation of a Green New Deal, “finding an environmental consensus,” and recognizing that the climate crisis must be dealt with in a large-scale manner. Additionally, each candidate hopes for one-hundred percent net-zero emissions no later than 2050. Biden hopes to head a Clean Energy Revolution, by investing in clean energy and climate research and innovation, that will incentivize the rapid deployment of clean energy innovations across the country.


In addition to her intentions to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and implement a Green New Deal, Warren takes an even more ambitious approach, hoping for a ten-year mobilization of resources in order to achieve domestic net-zero emissions by 2030, although some experts note that the country is “nowhere close” to achieving this. She further emphasizes that the implementation of her Green New Deal will be effective as it is interwoven throughout her other plans and policies.


Expanding on plans to implement a Green New Deal and achieve one-hundred percent net-zero emissions no later than 2050, Sanders makes climate a priority of his campaign, pledging to invest $16.3 trillion for the mobilization of resources in order to give action to his plans. Sanders additionally plans to provide two-hundred billion dollars to the Green Climate Fund, and intends to transform American energy systems to one-hundred percent renewable energy.


As does each Democratic candidate, Buttigieg advocates for the implementation of a Green New Deal and hopes for one-hundred percent net-zero emissions no later than 2050. Buttigieg intends to implement various plans and institutions in order to achieve these goals, such as the Clean Energy Victory Plan and the American Clean Energy Bank. He also will implement emissions standards for vehicles, electricity, and technology.


Klobuchar’s policy on climate, in addition to advocating for the united “consensus” of a Green New Deal and hoping for one-hundred percent net-zero emissions by 2050, includes plans to reintroduce the emissions regulations on power and gas that were implemented during the Obama administration. Furthermore, Klobuchar has committed to a No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

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