Where the 2020 Democrats Stand on Climate - The Years Project

Where the 2020 Democrats Stand on Climate

By Maggie Badore

Updated: July 17, 2019

A climate voter’s guide to the primary contenders’ track records and campaign proposals.

Climate change should be a top priority for voters wading through the wide pool of Democratic presidential hopefuls. The ability of the U.S. to withstand this ever-worsening crisis hinges on the next president’s ability to lead the nation towards solutions. But as it stands, it’s unclear how much airtime or debate space the issue will be given in the lead-up to the election.

That’s why we’ve put together this overview of where the top candidates stand on the biggest issue of our time. While there are hundreds of candidates officially registered, we’ve profiled those who have qualified for the first debates. If any candidates are added to that list, and as more information becomes public about the candidates’ climate proposals, we’ll keep updating this page.

Jump to:
Michael Bennet
Joe Biden
Cory Booker
Pete Buttigieg
Bill de Blasio
Julián Castro
John Delaney
Tulsi Gabbard
Kirsten Gillibrand
Kamala Harris
John Hickenlooper
Jay Inslee
Amy Klobuchar
Beto O’Rourke
Tim Ryan
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren
Marianne Williamson
Andrew Yang
No Longer Running:
Eric Swalwell

Any info that we missed? Feel free to drop us a line at tips@theyearsproject.com.


Jay Inslee

Track Record

Jay Inslee has championed climate action since his time as a member of the House of Representatives. In 2002, he called for the United States to launch a New Apollo Project” dedicated to developing new clean energy technologies, as part of an effort to get the U.S. off foreign oil and fight climate change.

In 2011, Inslee opposed efforts in Congress to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to regulate greenhouse gasses, stating during a hearing that skepticism about global warming was spread by fossil fuel interests.

As the Governor of Washington State, Inslee has pushed for a number of policies to address climate change. His administration rejected plans to build terminals to export coal and oil from the state. Recently, he signed a bill committing Washington to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, and getting off coal by 2030. He’s also opposed the construction of two new natural gas facilities in the state. He supported several different carbon pricing proposals, although none of them have become law so far.

As Governor, he co-founded the U.S. Climate Alliance in 2017 with Governors Jerry Brown and Andrew Cuomo of California and New York, respectively, when President Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement.

Campaign Proposals   

From the launch of his presidential bid, Jay Inslee billed himself as the “climate candidate,” and has proposed a number of detailed proposals to address the climate crisis. The first is the “100% Clean Energy Plan,” which is essentially a clean energy standard for the entire U.S. It calls for all new buildings to be zero-carbon, and all new vehicles to be zero-emissions, and all coal plants to close by 2030. The plan proposes that 100 percent of electricity generation come from zero-carbon sources by 2035. 

Inslee’s second major climate policy is his Evergreen Economy Plan, which lays out a  massive job creation and infrastructure improvement proposal. To reach his 100 percent clean energy goals, Inslee plans to invest in building upgrades, clean energy research and development, and science education. He proposes the creation of clean energy grants and the establishment of a Green Bank that would also help finance clean energy investments. For workers currently employed by the fossil fuel industry, the plan would create a re-training program modeled on the GI Bill. Underpinning all these efforts, Inslee promises to protect workers rights and unions.  

Inslee has also proposed the creation of a “Climate Conservation Corps,” which would employ Americans to do a wide range of jobs to help the United States transition to clean energy, restore ecosystems and help communities hit by climate disasters.

Inslee supports the U.S. rejoining the Paris Agreement.

He has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Elizabeth Warren

Track Record

During her time as a U.S. Senator, Elizabeth Warren has led on climate by introducing and co-sponsoring a number of different bills to address climate change. She introduced the Climate Risk Disclosure Act, which would require public companies–particularly fossil fuel companies–to disclose their climate-related risks. That includes corporate emissions, fossil fuel assets, and any physical risks they face due to climate change.  Warren has support this legislation through several legislative sessions, and its most recent iteration is an amendment to the Securities Exchange Act

In 2015, Warren was a co-sponsor of the American Energy Innovation Act, which set a non-binding goal of reducing U.S. emissions by 2 percent on average every year until 2025. The bill tightened regulations for oil and gas extraction on public lands, created tax incentives for clean energy and energy efficiency in buildings, repealed certain fossil fuel subsidies and placed a tax on oil derived from tar sands. In 2017, she co-sponsored (along with Booker and other senators) the Sustainable, Affordable, Fair and Efficient (SAFE) National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, in order to emphasize flood prevention and resilience in communities that are at risk from impacts of climate change.

Currently, Sen. Warren is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal Resolution, the Climate Change Education Act, GAS MONEY Saved Act and a bill that would create a program to help healthcare professionals deal with the negative health effects of climate change, particularly in low-income communities. She’s also an original co-sponsor of 

Campaign Proposals

“A Plan for Everything” has become a catchphrase for Elizabeth Warren’s campaign–and while climate change is addressed by many of the proposals she’s laid out, we suspect there are still more to come.

In a plan focused on federal lands, Warren says that she would put an end to new fossil fuel leases on public lands and offshore drilling on her first day as president. She also calls for 10 percent of overall electricity generation to come from renewable sources offshore or on public lands. The plan called for the National Park Service to be fully funded (there’s currently a backlog of $11 million worth of deferred maintenance), to make entry to parks free, and to restore any national monuments that have had their protections stripped by the Trump Administration.

Warren’s Green Apollo Program would invest $400 billion in the development of new clean technology, including hard-to-decarbonize sectors of the economy like aviation and shipping. It would also create a new federal agency, the National Institutes of Clean Energy, which would be modeled on the National Institutes of Health.

Her Green Industrial Mobilization plan would turn the federal government’s buying power into a tool to grow clean energy industries. Warren proposes a $1.5 trillion commitment to procuring clean energy technology. Federal procurement changes would also require companies to pay workers a minimum of $15 per hour and guarantee paid family leave in order to qualify for government contracts.

Another plan inspired by history is the Green Marshall Plan, which would not only promote U.S. clean tech abroad, but help provide funding to developing nations that wish to transition to clean energy. The plan also calls for an end to any support of fossil fuel development abroad through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Taken together, the Green Apollo Program, the Green Industrial Mobilization and the Green Marshall Plan constitute a huge jobs-creation push, with protections for workers baked in.

Warren has also laid out a plan to use the U.S. Military to address climate change. She calls for better preparedness in the face of climate disasters and threats, and for the Pentagon to achieve net zero carbon emissions for all its non-combat bases and infrastructure by 2030. That’s no small feat, as the military is the biggest government user of energy. Warren paired this campaign promise by introducing a bill in the senate in May 2019 that has the same goal.

Even if elected, Warren says she plans to empower the Securities and Exchange Commission to require companies to disclose their emissions and other climate risks.

In a Greenpeace survey of 2020 candidates, Warren said she would also cut subsidies to fossil fuel companies.

She has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Beto O’Rourke

Track Record

While Beto O’Rourke is a staunch supporter of climate action, the House Rep from Texas has been criticized by climate hawks for his ties to the fossil fuel industry. In 2017, he was a co-sponsor on a resolution that expressed support for re-joining the Paris Agreement and “stands with the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria.” However, he also voted against a ban on offshore drilling, and backed a bill that lifted restrictions on fossil fuel exports, as well as a different plan to fast-track natural gas exports.

Campaign Proposals

Perhaps because of the criticism of his voting record, Beto O’Rourke’s campaign has published a detailed plan to address climate change. The plan is designed to cut emissions “from day one” and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. O’Rourke says he will reenter the Paris Agreement.

His plan includes:

  • Stricter standards for methane leaks, power plants and vehicles
  • Phasing out hydrofluorocarbons
  • Updating appliance and building efficiency standards
  • Expanding protected areas in the Arctic
  • Creating performance-focused climate change tax incentives worth over $1 trillion
  • Increasing investment in pre-disaster mitigation
  • Changing laws so that when areas are hit by climate disasters, recovery efforts are directed to rebuild in more resilient ways

He has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Pete Buttigieg

Track Record

As Mayor of South Bend, climate-friendly solutions were at the forefront of Buttigieg’s efforts to revitalize the city’s downtown. The city’s Smart Streets program created bike lanes and added urban trees to the downtown area. To help cope with flooding, a problem only getting worse because of climate change, he created rain gardens. The city also installed a free electric car charger, and Mayor Pete was one of the first to plug in.  

Mayor Pete also joined the Climate Mayors, a global coalition of mayors who are worked toward cutting emissions as part of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Campaign Proposals

On the campaign trail, Pete Buttigieg has spoken positively about the Green New Deal. “I think we need to be honest that the Green New Deal framework right now represents a set of goals more so than it does a fully designed plan. I actually think that’s OK,” he told the Boston Herald. He is adamant that climate change is a “national security issue,” and on multiple occasions called for climate programs that are on the same scale as WWII’s war effort. He thinks nuclear energy has a role to play in solving climate change “at least for now.”

Buttigieg has proposed spending billions more on research and development for renewables and energy storage. He made the case for home retrofits and a federally-backed rooftop solar program, with the aim of achieving net-zero energy consumption. He explained: “Uncle Sam is gonna mail you a kit.

On several occasions, Buttigieg has discussed a carbon fee and dividend plan as a possible climate change solution. During one rally, he went further by stating: “We’re going to have to have a carbon tax.”

He has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Bernie Sanders

Track Record

Sen. Bernie Sanders has a strong record of introducing new bills that address climate change. In 2007, he wrote legislation that created block grants to fund energy efficiency upgrades in buildings, and this proposal became law as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act. In 2013, he helped introduce a fee and dividend bill that would have priced carbon pollution at $20 a ton, and returned three-fifths of the proceeds to taxpayers. In 2015, Sanders co-sponsored the Keep In The Ground Act, which proposed an end to new offshore drilling and fossil fuel leases on public lands. The same year, he introduced three other climate bills, including a carbon pricing bill, a bill aimed at helping workers in the coal industry transition to new jobs, and a plan to help low-income frontline communities hit by climate disasters. In 2017, he co-sponsored the “100 by ‘50” Act, a bill which sets a goal for the U.S. of 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Looking over his 28-year voting record in both the House of Representatives and Senate, Sanders has a next-to-perfect voting record on climate. The only exception we could find was a 1991 vote against designating 4.5 million acres of public land in Utah as “wilderness,” a designation that generally prevents lands from being drilled for fuel or otherwise developed.

Currently, Sanders is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal Resolution, the Climate Change Education Act, the GAS MONEY Saved Act, and a joint resolution that simply calls on Congress to take immediate action on climate. He also helped unveil a congressional resolution to declare a climate emergency in the U.S. in July. 

Campaign Proposals

During his previous bid to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders regularly called for a massive national effort to counter climate change, likening it to the World War II mobilization.

During this campaign cycle, Sanders has been a vocal supporter of the Green New Deal, and is expected to release a more detailed policy plan for how to achieve the existing resolution’s goals in the coming months.

His campaign website does provide an outline of what he would do as president:

  • Invest infrastructure to protect frontline communities
  • Build out high speed rail, electric vehicles, and public transit
  • Ban fracking
  • Put an end to new fossil fuel leases on public lands
  • End the export of crude oil, national gas and coal

He has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Cory Booker

Track Record

During his time in the Senate, Cory Booker has spearheaded a number of environmental justice initiatives. He introduced the Environmental Justice Act of 2017, which proposed the creation of a grant program to help disadvantaged communities address air and water pollution. He was a co-sponsor of the American Innovation and Energy Act in 2015, and supported extending tax credits for wind and solar projects. He also co-sponsored the “100 by ‘50” Act, which aimed to get the U.S. to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Booker was among a group of U.S. Senators who attended the Paris climate talks, and he expressed disapproval of President Trump’s decision to leave the agreement.

On Earth Day 2019, Booker and two other senators launched a new Environmental Justice Caucus, which will work to address the fact that low income neighborhoods and communities of color have historically faced more pollution than white areas. He is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution.

Booker often posts on social media about his vegan diet, a lifestyle choice that’s been shown to cut an individual’s carbon footprint.

Campaign Proposals

On the campaign trail, Cory Booker has continued to connect climate change to issues of social justice. “The reality is when you live in a community like mine, the environmental urgencies, the life or death issues are happening right now,” he said at an event in Texas, referring to his time as Mayor of Newark.

As for policy details, Booker said he would beef up enforcement of EPA rules, include hiring more agents. He plans to double the cleanup fee on coal companies for abandoned coal mines. He also proposed tax breaks for clean energy companies.

In a Greenpeace survey, Booker’s campaign said he supports a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2030. To get there, he supports a carbon fee and dividend, federal investments in microgrids and improved transmissions, increased investment in clean energy research–particularly battery storage.

He has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Julián Castro

Track Record

During Julián Castro’s time as the Mayor of San Antonio, the city added solar power and committed to shutting down a coal-fired power plant. Mayor Castro supported bike-sharing and car-sharing programs, as well as a high-speed rail.

As the former head of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration, Castro has experience having wonky discussions about the transition to renewable energy. During his time at HUD, he worked on a program that helped apartment building owners install clean energy upgrades.

Campaign Proposals

Julián Castro says his first act as president would be to re-join the Paris Agreement, and he has endorsed the Green New Deal. At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, he said that a Green New Deal could help bring jobs back to the U.S., and that he’s committed to making investments in sustainability.

“Our nation must also make up for lost time from this administration’s actions and lead the international community to take vital next steps to combat climate change,” he told The New York Times. He supports a National Renewable Standard, in addition to more investment in federal clean-tech research, and stricter sustainability building codes.

Building on his experience at HUD, one of Castro’s signature proposals is his People First Housing. This plan includes a number of climate-related features. It creates a $200 billion green fund provided by the federal government to improve building efficiency, invest in public transportation, make upgrades to the power grid, and provide support for climate resiliency initiatives. His plans to also create zoning laws that create more housing density near public transportation, which can help reduce emissions from private vehicles.

Castro has also called for a carbon price, and says the revenue raised should be directed towards clean energy technologies and towards addressing the burdens many communities will bear because of climate change.

He has taken the No Fossil Fuels Pledge.

John Delaney

Track Record

John Delaney served for six years in the House of Representatives, where he co-sponsored and introduced a number of different climate change bills. He particularly favored carbon tax policies. He introduced a bill that would have allowed states to introduce a carbon tax under the Clean Air Act, a bill that would have used the IRS to create a $30 per ton carbon tax, and was a co-sponsor of the Energy Innovation and Dividend Act to create a revenue-neutral carbon fee. He twice introduced a bill to create a Climate Solutions Commission, which would have made recommendations for how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

Campaign Proposals

Delaney continues to support carbon pricing and market-based solutions on the campaign trail. On his campaign website, he lays out a plan that’s similar to the Energy Innovation and Dividend Act, which would return all of the funds collected from a carbon price to taxpayers.

In an op-ed for The Hill, Delaney also called for the creation of a market for carbon-capture technology, including Direct Air Capture Technology (DAC). He plans to fund investments in these technologies by redirecting $5 billion in annual tax incentives from the fossil fuel industry.

He also supports:

  • Tax credits for renewables
  • Increased federal investment in clean technology research and development
  • Re-joining the Paris Agreement
  • Including sustainability in infrastructure planning

He has not taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Track Record

As a Senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand has sponsored and supported a number of different bills that address climate change, including several different carbon pricing policies. Currently, she’s a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal Resolution and co-sponsor of an amendment to the tax code that would place a fee on carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. She’s also a co-sponsor of the Women and Climate Change Act of 2019, which would create a working group within the State Department to address the effects of climate change on women and girls. In 2009, she was a supporter of Obama’s 2009 cap-and-trade deal.

Campaign Proposals

On the campaign trail, Gillibrand has focused on her support for the Green New Deal. Her campaign website states: “When we invest in green technology, spur innovation and incentivize the use of renewable energy under the Green New Deal, we’ll also invest in massive new technical skills training and create family-supporting, sustainable jobs for the future.”

Gillibrand hasn’t yet released a detailed plan as to how she’d get there, but her campaign did tell Greenpeace that she believes we should aim for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within the next ten years. She also said she supports new limits for fossil fuel exports, a memorandum on new fossil fuel leases on public lands, and the phase-out of single-use plastic products (which are a source of emissions as they degrade).

Here are a few more of her positions:

  • Supports a price on carbon
  • Has called for investing in community resilience and infrastructure investment  
  • Says that addressing climate change is also an economic opportunity
  • Would ensure that the Army Corps prioritizes green infrastructure projects to manage flood risk
  • Supports green job training

She has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Marianne Williamson

Track Record

Author and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson touched on climate change in her writing prior to her 2020 run. In a 2017 blog post, she writes that “climate change denial is now moving irretrievably into the dustbin of history’s worst ideas.” She writes that Trump’s administration is serving the interests of the fossil fuel industry, and doing a disservice to the American people.  

One of Williamson’s overarching themes when writing about current events is that political corruption, which places profit and greed above the public interest, is linked to spiritual corruption.

Campaign Proposals

Humanity’s spiritual disconnection from nature is at the heart of our climate crisis, and reminding ourselves of our moral responsibility to respect and protect the earth will resolve it,” Marianne Williamson writes on her campaign website. Not only does she support rejoining the Paris Agreement, she says that if elected, she would support the agreement to set more ambitious goals and more enforceable commitments.  

Williamson supports the Green New Deal, and a transition away from fossil fuels, which seeks to decarbonize the U.S.’s energy sector within the next ten years. She argues that tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuels are evidence of how money has “polluted our political system,” and argues that reforming campaign finance is also key to fighting climate change.

She told The New York Times that she supports a federal carbon tax of less than $60 per ton, and that the funds should be used by the government to incentivize the development of new green technology.

Williamsons also supports:

  • Banning fracking
  • Breaking up Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, which are a source of methane emissions
  • Phasing out nuclear energy
  • Restoring forests and oceans to sequester carbon
  • Addressing emissions from industrial agriculture
  • Investing is carbon sequestering technologies
  • Phase out internal combustion engines

She has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Andrew Yang

Track Record

Unlike the other candidates on this list, Andrew Yang has not previously held a public office. His work as a lawyer and entrepreneur doesn’t particularly provide insight into his views on climate change.

Campaign Promises

On his campaign website, Andrew Yang says it “should be a top priority of the federal government to implement policies to control anthropogenic climate change while working with other governments to implement these policies throughout the world.”

He’s said a carbon fee and dividend would help move the economy in the right direction, but that more drastic measures will be needed. “Geoengineering is an eventuality,” he said in a podcast interview, including ideas like sulfur clouds and mirrored satellites. If elected, Yang says he would use federal funds to create an international geoengineering conference.

He also plans to:

  • Cut subsidies to the fossil fuel industry
  • Appoint an EPA leader and empower that person to regulate greenhouse gasses
  • Prioritize sustainable infrastructure

He has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Tulsi Gabbard

Track Record

As a member of the House of Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard has supported a number of bills that address the climate crisis. Notably, she sponsored the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (OFF Act), which mandated that by 2035, 100 percent of electricity generation would be from clean resources, 100 percent of new vehicle sales would be zero-emissions and that all rail and train lines in the United states must be electric. The bill also proposed incentives to encourage people to buy electric vehicles, and banned new fossil fuel leases on federal lands. Gabbard co-sponsored HR 1709, the Scientific Integrity Act to enforce and protect the scientific integrity of federal agencies. She is also a co-sponsor of a non-binding joint resolution to declare a climate emergency in the U.S. that was introduced to Congress in July of 2019. 

Gabbard is not a co-sponsor of The Green New Deal resolution.

Campaign Proposals

As a presidential candidate, Gabbard has expressed her commitment to protecting the environment. Her campaign website calls for investing in a green energy economy and sustainable agriculture.

Gabbard has been critical of President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, while calling for “enhancing U.S. energy independence, and lowering energy costs for families and businesses, while reducing carbon emissions.”

In response to a Greenpeace survey, Gabbard’s campaign said she would support eliminating all fossil fuel and nuclear energy subsidies. She also said that she does not support the construction of new nuclear energy plants.

She has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Joe Biden

Track Record

Joe Biden’s history on the issue of climate change dates back to his time as a Senator in 1986, when he sponsored the Global Climate Protection Act. The first piece of climate legislation ever introduced to Congress, the bill would have created a task force to research and implement a coordinated national strategy to address global warming.

However, the former vice president is likely to be most closely associated with President Barack Obama’s climate change policies, which could be a strength or a weakness depending on whom you ask. On the one hand, some Obama-era “all of the above” energy policies aren’t in line with the actions we need to keep warming under 2.0 degrees C, especially moves like opening up the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for drilling leases. In the face of the 2008 recession, the aims of these efforts were to lower energy costs, but also had the effect of increasing U.S. production of both oil and natural gas.

On the other hand, the Obama administration created many policy mechanisms to support clean energy, worked to regulate emissions on multiple fronts, placed a moratorium on offshore drilling in the Arctic and was instrumental in getting nearly every country in the world to sign onto the Paris Agreement, especially China. Obama’s administration might have succeeded with even more ambitious climate action, had its policies not been largely blocked by an uncooperative Congress.

Campaign Proposals

In the months leading up to Biden’s official campaign announcement, he called climate change an existential threat, and made mention that job creation is a benefit of investing in clean energy in the U.S.

His campaign website states: “We must turbocharge our efforts to address climate change and ensure that every American has access to clean drinking water, clean air, and an environment free from pollutants.”

Biden released a detailed plan to address climate change on June 4, 2019. He promises to restore Obama Administration regulations “on day one.” That includes the Clean Power Plan, and he also promises to push for more ambitious policies. Biden sets a target of reaching 100 percent clean energy and net-zero emissions by 2050. He plans to reach that goal with a $1.7 trillion federal investment, and to mobilize another $5 trillion in private, state and local investments. To help pay for the plan, he will cut fossil fuel subsidies and roll back Trump-era tax corporate tax breaks.

Biden plans to rejoin the Paris Agreement, as well as to encourage other countries to ramp up their targets, and to make the agreement more enforceable.

His plan also includes:

  • Using the Federal government procurement system to purchase electric vehicles
  • Requiring government buildings to be more efficient and climate-ready
  • Investing in the next generation of biofuels
  • Permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
  • Empowering local communities to develop transportation solutions
  • Improving the U.S. rail system
  • Creating a priority for all agencies to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income, and indigenous communities

He has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Kamala Harris

Track Record

During her time as San Francisco Attorney General, Kamala Harris created an environmental justice unit, designed to protect low-income communities from illegal pollution. During her time at the D.A.’s office, she brought cases against a number of polluters, including UHaul.  

As a Senator, Harris has a track record of support bills that address climate change. Currently, Harris is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal Resolution, the Women and Climate Change Act of 2019, and the Climate Change Education Act that directs NOAA to create a grant program to improve education about the human causes of climate change. Harris is part of a congressional effort to stop Trump’s EPA from weakening fuel efficiency standards with a bill called the GAS MONEY Saved Act.

Campaign Proposals

If elected, Harris says the U.S. will rejoin the Paris Agreement, and has called for a Green New Deal during a town hall event. She also criticized politicians in the “pocket of big coal and big oil” and called climate change “an existential threat to our country.”

She has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Amy Klobuchar

Track Record

Like many of the other members of Congress running for president, Senator Amy Klobuchar has a track record of supporting climate legislation. In 2015, Klobuchar was a co-sponsor of the American Energy Innovation Act, which set a non-binding goal of reducing U.S. emissions by 2 percent on average every year through 2025, and through a number of different policies. Along with Warren and Harris, she’s currently a co-sponsor of the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act, which would create a program to help health professionals provide better care in the face of climate change. Klobuchar also introduced a bill that would create a pilot program to provide non-profits with energy-efficient building upgrades.  

On her Senate website, Klobuchar discusses the importance of calling out climate change deniers and solving climate change. She is also a proponent of “homegrown” energy in all forms, including domestic oil and gas extraction. She also calls for further development of clean coal.

She co-sponsored the Green New Deal Resolution, although she has also expressed reservations about the likelihood of such sweeping legislation passing, describing the resolution’s goals as “aspirations.”

Campaign Proposals

If elected president, Amy Klobuchar has said she would rejoin the Paris Agreement on her first day in office. She also says that she’d reinstate Obama’s Clean Power Plan and fuel efficiency standards within her first 100 days.   

Klobuchar has also put forward a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan that includes a number of policies that would help address climate change. This  includes improving mass transportations options, to help Americans lower their emissions by driving private cars less, and making road repairs to also help drivers get better fuel efficiency. A key feature of her proposal is “climate smart and green infrastructure,” which would help move infrastructure off of fossil fuels. The plan would be funded in part directly by the federal government and from the creation of clean energy bonds.

She has taken the No Fossil Fuel Pledge.

Bill de Blasio

Track Record

As the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio has set a number of climate change policies in motion. In 2018, the city began a five-year process of divesting $5 billion worth of fossil fuel investments from New York City’s pension funds. De Blasio also sued five fossil fuel companies for their contributions to climate change. 

In 2019, the city passed a law to reduce emissions from buildings, a policy described by de Blasio as “New York’s Green New Deal.” Buildings are responsible for about 70 percent of NYC’s emissions. The new law will require large buildings to reduce their emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, through efficiency retrofits or purchasing renewable energy. He also set a goal of getting the entire city to carbon neutrality by 2050. However, some have criticized the lack of details and funding needed to implement some of his administration’s most ambitious goals, like this one and his promise to make city-wide composting mandatory. 

De Blasio announced a plan to re-shape the lower tip of Manhattan in an effort to protect the island from sea level rise and the worsening threat of hurricanes. 

He is opposed the Williams natural gas pipeline, which would run from New Jersey into New York. In 2017, he signed an executive order expressing New York City’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. 

Campaign Proposals

A latecomer to the race, Bill de Blasio mentions climate change in his campaign video, but has not yet released a plan for how he would address the crisis if elected President. 

On the campaign trail, he has been a vocal supporter of the Green New Deal and called for full federal support for this type of plan. 

He has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

 

Michael Bennet

Track Record

Michael Bennet served as a U.S. Senator from the state of Colorado since 2009. His environmental voting record is good overall, but climate hawks will note that he voted multiple times in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion between 2013 and 2015. In 2010, he also voted against an amendment proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders that would have ended tax cuts for top earners and used the money saved to fund clean energy for low-income families.

More recently, Bennet has introduced legislation that works to address the issues of carbon pollution. In 2017, he introduced the a bill that would help expand community solar, and

Currently, he’s sponsored the Carbon Capture Improvement Act, which would create tax incentives for project that trap and store carbon dioxide. He is also the original sponsor of the Carbon Pollution Transparency Act, which requires federal agencies to incorporate the cost of pollution into all their decisions. In April, he introduced a bill that would create tax credits for energy storage.

He is not a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal Resolution.

Campaign Proposals

On the campaign trail, Bennet has made climate change a central issue, and promises to start addressing the crisis on his first day in office if elected. He released a detailed climate plan, which sets a goal of reaching net-zero emissions “as fast as possible and no later than 2050.” Bennet’s plans hinge on giving various stakeholders. 

For example, one proposal is to create a “2030 Climate Challenge” that will incentivize states to compete with one another to reduce emissions to receive federal infrastructure funding. The challenge will allow each state to come up with an individual strategy to reduce their emissions—similar to Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Another proposal is to require all power providers to give consumers the option to purchase zero-emissions energy.

Bennet also proposes creating Climate Bank using $1 trillion in federal funding, which his campaign estimates will “catalyze” another $10 trillion in private sector innovations and investment over a ten-year timeframe.

He has not taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Tim Ryan

Track Record

Over the course of the 16 years Tim Ryan has sat in the House of Representatives, he’s racked up a long history of voting for protecting clean air and against expanding fossil fuels. In the majority of cases, Ryan took a pro-climate position, but there are a few noteworthy exceptions. In 2005, Ryan voted for a Bush-era bill that created billions of dollars worth of subsidies for coal and oil, while at the same time weakened environmental protections placed on the fossil fuel industry. In 2012, Ryan voted against reducing federal subsidies for fossil fuel development. He also voted against new protections for public lands, which play an important role in storing carbon, on several occasions.

Currently, Ryan is co-sponsoring the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act to help healthcare professionals deal with care in the face of climate change, the Climate Action Now Act that requires the U.S. to keep the goals it committed to under the Paris Agreement, and a bill that would create protections for forests in the Northern Rockies.

Campaign Proposals

If elected president, Tim Ryan says he will rejoin the Paris Agreement, and also step up the U.S.’s ambitions.

At one event, he told the audience that “we can’t green the economy without the power of the free-market system,” but told The New York Times he hasn’t decided if he would push for a federal carbon tax. He was supportive of the Clean Power Plan when it was enacted by President Obama, and says if elected he would restore it. He also told the Times that he would support more funding for the research and development of clean technology and that he thinks nuclear energy should be part of the solution to climate change.

Climate change does not appear to be a top issue for Ryan. Ryan has not yet laid out a detailed plan as to how he would address climate change as president and there is no mention of climate change on his campaign website.

He has not taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

John Hickenlooper

Track Record

In 2017, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order setting a goal of lowering the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The order was part of a larger movement of states and cities working towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, even as President Trump pulled the United States out of the international agreement.  

Although Hickenlooper says he’s committed to the Paris Agreement, his stance on fracking and fossil fuel extraction is not in line with the agreement’s goal of keeping Earth’s average warming to below 2.0 degrees C. In 2013, he threatened to sue any city and county in Colorado that tried to ban fracking, and earned him the nick-name “Frackenlooper” among some activists. In his 2016 book, Hickenlooper described fracking as “good for the country’s energy supply, our national security, our economy, and our environment.”

As governor, he did instate new regulations on the gas industry that reduced harmful leaks, however fossil fuel production in the state went up during his tenure.

Campaign Proposals

On the campaign trail, Hickenlooper has emphasized his desire to bring the fossil fuel industry and environmentalists together to reach some kind of agreement. As an example, his campaign website cites the regulations to lower methane emissions in Colorado, adding that this policy is now “considered the gold standard across the United States.” The site also highlights that Hickenlooper expanded public transportation during his time serving as the Mayor of Denver. However, at the time we reviewed it, the site did not discuss how Hickenlooper might address climate change if elected president.

Hickenlooper’s campaign told The New York Times that he supports both Obama-era efforts to cut emissions, as well as more ambitious climate change goals. He also said he supported more federal investment in clean technologies, as well as “public-private partnerships.”

In an op-ed for The Washington Post that criticized the Green New Deal resolution, Hickenlooper laid out a more detailed vision for how he would address climate change. He wrote that he supports “historic federal investments and incentives in electric storage, modern transmission and science.” He also wrote that “well-calibrated tax policy” could be part of the solution, but on other occasions has declined to state definitively if he supports or rejects a tax on carbon emissions.

He has not taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

 

Eric Swalwell (No longer running)

Track Record

Eric Swalwell has a solid voting record on climate during his time in the House of Representatives, with one notable exception being a 2013 vote against funding for a federal clean-energy development program. In past congressional sessions, he has co-sponsored a number of bills that fight climate change, such as a bill to incentivize off-shore wind power, and a bill that would have funded wetland restoration in the Bay Area. He’s also a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution.

Currently, Swalwell is co-sponsor of an off-shore drilling ban along the coast of California, and a bill that would end the loopholes that allow fracking operations to sidestep clean water regulations (also known as the Halliburton loophole).

Campaign Promises

If elected, Eric Swalwell says the U.S. will rejoin the Paris Agreement. He would restore Obama-era regulations including the Clean Power Plan and fuel efficiency standards. He’s been supportive of the Green New Deal on the campaign trail, but climate change is not listed among the top issues on his campaign website.

He has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

This publication is funded by The YEARS Project Action Fund.