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My Climate Candidate

An interactive guide to where the 2020 presidential candidates stand on climate issues

on Sep 12, 2019

If CNN’s prime time programming is any guide, 2020 could be climate change’s year. Not in a doom-and-gloom, massive storm systems, and out-of-control wildfires way — though, sigh, that could happen too — but as a prominent issue in electoral politics. In early September, the cable news network devoted seven full hours to a series of town halls in which CNN anchors, climate scientists, and concerned citizens grilled 10 of the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for president on their plans for tackling the climate crisis.

It’s a reflection of changing priorities. A poll published in early -July from the Washington Post and ABC News found that climate change came in second behind health care when voters who lean Democrat were asked what the most important issue would be in the 2020 general election. The same poll found that voters of all persuasions disapproved of how President Donald Trump has handled climate change more than any other issue — immigration, foreign policy, even “issues of special concern to women.”

Discussions of climate policy have evolved in this election cycle. Democratic primary candidates initially would drop buzzwords like “Green New Deal” or “Paris accord” to give the sense that they were climate- conscious. But a vocal and seemingly omnipresent activist community has forced serious primary contenders to bone up on issues related to warming, from their stances on whether the country should continue fracking for natural gas, whether nuclear energy makes sense as part of a future energy mix, and whether there should be a price on carbon. With so many candidates and so many concerns, it’s easy to lose track of who stands for what. Which candidate has a plan to address the climate crisis that tracks most closely to what a voter (you, dear reader) might want?

That’s where we at Grist come in. We’ve assembled this handy, scannable candidate sorter so you can peruse the many many many candidates vying for your vote — and find your political soulmate.

Happy sorting!

To see more of Grist’s 2020 election coverage, click here.

Michael Bennet

Senator, Colorado

Michael Bennet

Pro

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Fracking
  • Nuclear

Anti

  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Green New Deal

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Geoengineering
Michael Bennet
To combat this crisis as fast as possible, we must reignite America’s ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit in a shared mission.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 90%
Greenpeace D+
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
To combat this crisis as fast as possible, we must reignite America’s ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit in a shared mission.

Bennet is a Democratic senator from Colorado who sees his record of working across the aisle as a key to winning in 2020. He won a razor-thin Senate election in 2010, despite Republicans picking up seats elsewhere in the purple state. He’s most well known for joining the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” to push for immigration reform in the Senate.

Bennet’s environmental record is mixed. He’s supported major climate bills, and the League of Conservation Voters has been his top campaign contributor throughout his Senate career. In November, he joined the Senate’s bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. But he’s also cast a handful of votes likely to alarm activists, according to the same League of Conservation Voters, such as one in support of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2013. His proposals to address climate change include cutting energy waste in half by 2040, holding a Climate Summit in the first 100 days of his administration, conserving one-third of federal lands, and awarding competitive grants to encourage green technology innovation.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • Net-zero emissions by 2050
  • Conserve 30 percent of federal lands by 2030
  • $1.5 trillion in investments in technology, research, and innovation facilitated by a federal “Climate Bank”

Read Bennett’s full plan here.

Photo: Getty Images

Joe Biden

Former vice president

Joe Biden

Pro

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Fracking
  • Green New Deal
  • Nuclear

Anti

  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fossil fuel subsidies

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Geoengineering
  • Nuclear
Joe Biden
The first thing I’d do as President of the United States is call a meeting of all the nations that signed onto the [Paris] accord in Washington, D.C., to up the ante.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 83%
Greenpeace B+
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
The first thing I’d do as President of the United States is call a meeting of all the nations that signed onto the [Paris] accord in Washington, D.C., to up the ante.

Depending on whom you ask, Biden is either an environmental OG or just plain behind the times. He was the first senator to introduce climate change legislation into Congress in 1987. He also played a role in the Obama administration’s work on fuel economy standards and the Paris Agreement, both of which he’s promised to recommit to.

Biden’s plans are less aggressive than some of his rivals’ when it comes to fossil fuels. He’s opposed to new drilling on federal lands, but hasn’t gone as far as calling for a ban against fracking. He also supports carbon capture technology to mitigate the impacts of oil, gas, and coal extraction, but is not offering any end dates on the use of coal power or timeline for decarbonizing the electrical grid. Most recently, Biden went all in on transportation and infrastructure with a new plan that includes investing in public transportation, a national electric vehicle-charging network, high-speed rail, building retrofits, and climate adaptation measures.

A noteworthy detail of the ex-veep’s climate platform: his commitment to net-zero emissions for the agricultural sector. That would be largely achieved by paying rural farmers to invest in carbon sequestration via healthier soil. He has also acknowledged the importance of the president’s use of executive orders as a tool to minimize emissions from fossil fuel extraction.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero emissions by 2050
  • Net-zero emissions for the entire agricultural sector
  • $1.7 trillion federal investment over next decade/$5 trillion after leveraging private investments
  • $1.3 trillion over 10 years on infrastructure

Read Biden’s plan in full here.

Photo: Getty Images

Cory Booker

Senator, New Jersey

Cory Booker

Pro

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Green New Deal
  • Nuclear

Anti

  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Geoengineering
Cory Booker
Climate change is disproportionately borne by low-income communities and communities of color.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 99%
Greenpeace A-
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
Climate change is disproportionately borne by low-income communities and communities of color.

The meat-avoiding, former college football-playing, New Jersey-repping, city-dwelling senator has become one of the most vocal candidates when it comes to calling out environmental injustices. As the former mayor of Newark — a city that is going through its own Flint-like lead water crisis — he has called for the creation of a White House-coordinated Environmental Justice Fund, which would commit $50 billion a year to “communities long left behind” when it comes to issues of pollution and climate change. The fund would include a national remediation program to replace lead water pipes in every school and home.

Booker’s $3 trillion climate plan would also set aside $400 billion for clean energy technology research and $100 billion to keep existing Department of Agriculture programs researching ways to make farms more climate-resilient. He is an unabashed fan of nuclear energy, recently voting in favor of nuclear research in the Senate. He has also voiced support for reinstating and strengthening fuel standards for cars and, obviously, rejoining the Paris accord.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • $3 trillion direct federal investment by 2030
  • 100 percent carbon neutral by 2045
  • 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030
  • $400 billion investment by 2030 in research and development of emissions-reduction technologies
  • Create a $50 billion per year U.S. Environmental Justice Fund

Read Booker’s plan in full here.

Photo: Getty Images

Steve Bullock

Governor of Montana

Pro

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Fossil fuel exports

Anti

  • Green New Deal
  • Nuclear

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Geoengineering
As Big Oil reaps huge profits and takes over our public lands, our politicians stand by and do literally nothing to deal with the climate crisis.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score N/A
Greenpeace D
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge No
As Big Oil reaps huge profits and takes over our public lands, our politicians stand by and do literally nothing to deal with the climate crisis.

The Montana governor’s presidential campaign is all about “One Big Idea”: to get money out of politics. Could you make the case that restricting the fossil fuel industry’s outsized political influence would be good for enacting climate policy? Sure you can. However, environmentalists would likely bristle at reports that he supports the Keystone XL pipeline (“if it’s done right”) and that he has opposed pollution regulations for power plants as well as an oil-lease moratorium on public lands.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • Carbon neutral by 2040
  • Net-zero emissions on federal lands by 2030
  • Cut carbon emissions by 20 percent by investing in more efficient homes and infrastructure

Read Bullock’s climate plan here.

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

Pete Buttigieg

Pro

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Green New Deal

Anti

  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Geoengineering
  • Nuclear
Pete Buttigieg
We need to unify the country around this project, and that means bringing people to the table who haven't been a part of that process.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score N/A
Greenpeace B
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
We need to unify the country around this project, and that means bringing people to the table who haven't been a part of that process.

As mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg’s record has some small-town flashes of green, but until late summer, it hadn’t been clear how a President Buttigieg would take on the climate crisis nationally. That changed in early September, when he released his plan ahead of the CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall. It includes a revenue-neutral carbon tax, which he says he’ll implement through a mix of executive and legislative actions. That’s no surprise considering bipartisanship is the name of the climate game in Buttigieg’s eyes.

Mayor Pete’s campaign has focused on reaching folks in America’s oft-ignored (and now frequently flooding) heartland, like farmers and religious communities. One policy unique to Buttigieg: He wants to spend $5 billion in annual grants for Regional Resilience Hubs to mitigate climate-related disasters. He’d also start a “Climate Corps,” sort of like Americorps, to put a million young people to work on projects related to sustainability and resilience.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • $200+ billion in federal clean energy R&D funding over 10 years
  • $200 billion fund to retrain workers whose jobs would be phased out in a shift to a green economy
  • $250 billion for American Clean Energy Bank to spur cleantech and sustainability projects
  • $250 billion for Global Investment Initiative to spread clean American technologies to developing nations

Read Buttigieg’s plan in full here.

Photo: Getty Images / AP

Julián Castro

Former secretary of Housing and Urban Development and mayor of San Antonio, Texas

Julián Castro

Pro

  • Carbon tax
  • Green New Deal

Anti

  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Nuclear

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fracking
  • Geoengineering
Julián Castro
Seventy percent of HUD-funded public housing or subsidized housing was within a mile of a Superfund site. … That’s the environmental injustice and racism that we’re dealing with.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score N/A
Greenpeace B+
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
Seventy percent of HUD-funded public housing or subsidized housing was within a mile of a Superfund site. … That’s the environmental injustice and racism that we’re dealing with.

The former mayor of San Antonio has a mixed history when it comes to the environment. While in office, he supported efforts to shut down a coal-fired power plant, increased the city’s renewable energy portfolio, and invested in bike shares and clean jobs training. But the native Texan also flip-flopped on a golf course that developers wanted to build over an environmentally-sensitive aquifer that is a crucial water source for the region. And he supported fracking for the jobs it would bring to his South Texas city.

But now Castro seems eager to distinguish himself from the other candidates with a climate plan that frames a clean and healthy environment as a civil rights issue. It calls for reforming the Environmental Protection Agency’s civil rights division — which has historically been slow to handle environmental discrimination claims — creating a “climate refugee” category for people forced to migrate as a result of climate-driven conflicts, and establishing a National Climate Council. Castro’s climate strategy also includes an animal welfare and anti-extinction component — his answer to the United Nations’ warning that humanity is on track to wipe out 1 million species. No other candidate has released a similar plan.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • Net-zero emissions by 2045 and at least 50 percent emissions reduction by 2030
  • $10 trillion investment over 10 years to build a 100 percent clean energy economy
  • Transition all energy from coal to renewables by 2030
  • Protect 30 percent of federal lands by 2030, 50 percent by 2050
  • He also has a separate $50 billion lead cleanup plan

Read Castro’s climate plan in full here.

Photo: Gage Skidmore

Bill de Blasio

Mayor of New York City

Pro

  • Carbon tax
  • Green New Deal

Anti

  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Nuclear

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Geoengineering
Fighting climate change can be a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score N/A
Greenpeace C
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
Fighting climate change can be a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.

The New York City mayor hasn’t shared an official climate platform as part of his presidential campaign, but de Blasio has overseen some major wins during his time running the Big Apple. In 2017, he committed the city to achieving the targets of the Paris Agreement. In April, he signed a bill mandating that 50,000 buildings in the city — responsible for 70 percent of NYC’s carbon footprint — slash their emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

Despite de Blasio’s city-level climate cred, he hasn’t been able to take it national. Before he officially announced his candidacy, de Blasio attempted to put Donald Trump on blast by pointing to the high carbon footprint of the president’s NYC real estate holdings. The press conference, which was held in front of Trump Tower, didn’t quite go to plan, with Trump supporters shouting over the mayor and critics complaining that de Blasio arrived at a supposedly “green” event in an SUV.

Read about de Blasio’s climate record here.

John Delaney

Former representative, Maryland

John Delaney

Pro

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fracking
  • Nuclear

Anti

  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Green New Deal

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Geoengineering
John Delaney
We can achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 by working together to pass effective bipartisan solutions that put our working families first.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 94%
Greenpeace C-
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge No
We can achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 by working together to pass effective bipartisan solutions that put our working families first.

The former businessman, who founded a health care company and a commercial lending outfit, served three terms in Congress. In 2016, he introduced a resolution calling for a transition to 50 percent renewable energy sources by 2030. And he was a “lead co-sponsor” on the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2018.

His $4 trillion climate plan includes a carbon tax in which revenue raised would go back to American taxpayers who would then have the option of putting the money in a college savings or retirement account. Delaney also wants to end fossil fuel subsidies and use the money saved to fund research and development of negative emissions technologies like carbon capture. He wants to construct a $20 billion “Carbon Throughway” that will allow for the safe transport of the greenhouse gas for either sequestration or reuse.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • Net-zero emissions by 2050
  • $4 trillion in federal investments
  • 5-fold increase in renewable energy research budget
  • $20 billion Carbon Throughway for transporting carbon dioxide

Read Delaney’s full plan here.

Photo: Getty Images

Tulsi Gabbard

Representative, Hawaii

Tulsi Gabbard

Pro

  • Carbon capture
  • Green New Deal

Anti

  • Carbon tax
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Nuclear

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Geoengineering
Tulsi Gabbard
I grew up in Hawaii, which is the most remote island chain in the world. So for us growing up there, protecting our environment was not a political issue, it's a way of life.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 96%
Greenpeace B
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
I grew up in Hawaii, which is the most remote island chain in the world. So for us growing up there, protecting our environment was not a political issue, it's a way of life.

Gabbard was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012. In 2017, she introduced the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act, or OFF Act, which laid out a plan to get the country running only on clean energy by 2035. It would repeal tax credits for fossil fuel companies and use the revenue to invest in everything from helping low-income people make energy efficiency improvements to their home to rebates for buying electric vehicles.

Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, was one of the early supporters of the Green New Deal, but decided against being a co-sponsor. Although she is in favor of the resolution’s carbon-neutral goals, Gabbard said she does “not support ‘leaving the door open’ to nuclear power unless and until there is a permanent solution to the problem of nuclear waste.”

Her climate plan, by the numbers:

  • Net-zero emissions by 2050
  • Conserve 30 percent of federal lands by 2030
  • $1.5 trillion in investments in technology, research, and innovation facilitated by a federal “Climate Bank”

Read where Gabbard stands on the climate here.

Photo: Getty Images

Kamala Harris

Senator, California

Pro

  • Carbon tax
  • Green New Deal

Anti

  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Geoengineering
  • Nuclear
[Polluters] have to be held accountable ... They are causing harm and death in our communities.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 100%
Greenpeace B+
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
[Polluters] have to be held accountable ... They are causing harm and death in our communities.

As California attorney general, Harris sued several fossil fuel companies for allegedly contributing to environmental degradation, ordered an investigation into whether ExxonMobil lied to shareholders about the risks of climate change, and filed criminal indictments against a pipeline company. That prosecutorial experience plays a big role in her climate pitch, which focuses on holding polluters accountable and seeking justice for the communities most affected by pollution and an overheating planet. She has a proven track record in the Senate, where she recently introduced a bill to spend $1 billion annually shoring up community defenses against wildfires.

Harris has promised to pass the Climate Equity Act, draft legislation she announced with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in July which would give frontline communities a voice in crafting climate legislation and regulations. She’s also promised to create an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability. Harris is an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, and mentions the resolution frequently on the campaign trail.

Her climate plan, by the numbers:

  • $10 trillion in public and private spending over 10 years
  • 100 percent carbon-neutral electricity by 2030
  • 100 percent zero-emission new passenger vehicles by 2035
  • 30 percent of all U.S. land and ocean protected by 2030
  • $250 billion to repair and replace drinking water infrastructure

Read Harris’ climate plan here.

Amy Klobuchar

Senator, Minnesota

Amy Klobuchar

Pro

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Fracking
  • Green New Deal
  • Nuclear

Anti

  • Fossil fuel subsidies

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Geoengineering
Amy Klobuchar
When you have a president that takes this on as a mission, you have to do the big things and transfer and get out of fossil fuels and move to clean energy. But you also have to talk the talk to make this a mission, so people also do the little things.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 96%
Greenpeace C+
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
When you have a president that takes this on as a mission, you have to do the big things and transfer and get out of fossil fuels and move to clean energy. But you also have to talk the talk to make this a mission, so people also do the little things.

The Minnesota senator is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, and the majority of her environmental platform centers around re-upping Obama-era measures undone by President Trump, including reentering the Paris Agreement and restoring clean power regulations and fuel mileage standards. Like Pete Buttigieg she constantly reps the Midwest and sees it as an integral part of any meaningful climate solution.

In September, Klobuchar announced a $1 trillion plan in which she promised to “take aggressive executive action to confront” climate change. She wants to revive the National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee that Trump let expire, slash the federal government’s massive carbon footprint, and pass a carbon tax. She’s one of three candidates pushing carbon capture technology. When pressed during CNN’s climate town hall about phasing out fossil fuels, however, she was less aggressive than some of her fellow candidates: “I don’t think we can phase it out in a few years,” she said. “You have to do it over a period of time and do it in a way that keeps our economy going and our economy strong.”

Her climate plan, by the numbers:

  • 100 percent net-zero emissions no later than 2050
  • $1 trillion infrastructure package that includes investments in green jobs

Read Klobuchar’s Climate Plan here.

Photo: Getty Images

Wayne Messam

Mayor of Miramar, Florida

Pro

  • N/A

Anti

  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Green New Deal
  • Nuclear

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Geoengineering
America needs to be a leader in terms of being good stewards to our environment. It's not an issue of just climate change. But when we act, we become more resilient as a state because we'll improve our infrastructure — it'll put Americans to work.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score N/A
Greenpeace N/A
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
America needs to be a leader in terms of being good stewards to our environment. It's not an issue of just climate change. But when we act, we become more resilient as a state because we'll improve our infrastructure — it'll put Americans to work.

Messam founded a “climate-conscious” construction management company that helped build LEED Platinum certified Galaxy Elementary School in Boynton Beach, Florida, among other projects. According to Messam, it’s “the greenest school in the southeastern United States.” The son of Jamaican immigrants then turned to politics and was elected mayor of Miramar, 20 miles north of Miami, in 2015.

Messam’s climate plans remain murky, but in interviews he has repeatedly heralded the promise of renewable energy. He cites Florida having to shut down nuclear plants during tropical storms as evidence that the United States shouldn’t rely on that technology as part of a future energy mix. He is open to a carbon tax, but favors a “comprehensive energy strategy” — saying such a strategy would preclude the need for a carbon fee.

Read Messam’s take on the climate crisis here.

Beto O’Rourke

Former representative, Texas

Pro

  • Green New Deal

Anti

  • Carbon tax
  • Fossil fuel subsidies

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fracking
  • Nuclear
  • Geoengineering
Our community [the city of El Paso, Texas] will be uninhabitable, will not sustain human life, along this current trajectory, unless something dramatically and fundamentally changes.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 95%
Greenpeace B-
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
Our community [the city of El Paso, Texas] will be uninhabitable, will not sustain human life, along this current trajectory, unless something dramatically and fundamentally changes.

The former congressman from Texas was the first Democratic presidential candidate to release a comprehensive climate plan, way back in April. It was a surprising turn, considering that representing an oil-friendly state had not always put him on the same side as environmentalists. As a congressman, he supported lifting a ban on crude oil exports and using federal dollars to study offshore drilling. During his unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2018, he promoted fracking as central to national security. He was added to, then taken off, the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge list after accepting more than $400,000 in donations from people working in the oil and gas industry. (He later returned the money.)

His tune has changed during his presidential run. First, he put out his climate plan that pledges $5 trillion over 10 years aimed at “boosting our overall economic, energy, and climate security.” After an intervention from students at The College of William & Mary, he signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge in early May. He has reversed his position on offshore drilling, but defended his decision to lift the crude oil ban citing poor environmental laws in other oil-producing countries. And in early September, he came out for pricing carbon via a cap-and-trade system, in which companies would be weaned off their polluting ways with a shrinking number of allowances for purchase each year.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • Net-zero emissions by 2050
  • $1.5 trillion in direct federal investment in innovation and infrastructure to compel for $5 trillion in total spending
  • Set a net-zero emissions by 2030 carbon budget for federal lands

Read O’Rourke’s plan in full here.

Deval Patrick

Former governor of Massachusetts

Pro

  • N/A

Anti

  • Green New Deal

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Nuclear
  • Carbon tax
  • Carbon capture
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fossil fuel exports
I think we should see this crisis as an opportunity. We should get the most out of it for our own safety, but also as a way to transition ourselves to a new economic model.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score N/A
Greenpeace Not yet
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge No
I think we should see this crisis as an opportunity. We should get the most out of it for our own safety, but also as a way to transition ourselves to a new economic model.

It’s tricky to nail down Deval Patrick — who entered the race in mid-November — on climate. On one hand, he worked as general council for oil giant Texaco (which has since merged with Chevron) for a couple years, before he ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2007.

On the other hand, as governor, he committed Massachusetts to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a nine-group project putting a market cap on carbon emissions from power plants. Patrick also invested in renewable energy, growing his state’s solar capacity up to the eighth-highest in the nation by the end of his time as governor. While in office he also signed into law a measure requiring that all diesel and oil to heat homes sold in the state be at least 5 percent biofuel within five years. And one of the first things Patrick did on the campaign trail was to meet with Iowa State Senator Robb Hogg to talk climate.

Read Patrick’s vision for America here.

Tim Ryan

Representative, Ohio

Pro

  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fracking
  • Nuclear

Anti

  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Green New Deal

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Geoengineering
You cannot get there on climate unless we talk about agriculture. We need to convert our industrial agriculture system over to a sustainable and regenerative agriculture system that actually sequesters carbon.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 92%
Greenpeace D+
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
You cannot get there on climate unless we talk about agriculture. We need to convert our industrial agriculture system over to a sustainable and regenerative agriculture system that actually sequesters carbon.

The congressman from Ohio has focused on polishing up the Rust Belt, and other economically depressed parts of the country, by supporting unions and protecting manufacturing jobs from free trade. That position, and his lifelong membership in the National Rifle Association, might endear him to voters who had left the Democratic party to vote for Trump in 2016.

But Ryan doesn’t fit the stereotype of a pro-union conservative: He practices yoga, hosts bipartisan meditation sessions for congressional staffers, and has written two books on mindfulness and another condemning the industrial food system. Though other candidates have pages of policy proposals to combat climate change, Ryan has a few paragraphs suggesting that he would invest in carbon-free technologies and look for job-creation opportunities while the country switches to clean energy.

Read Ryan’s position on climate here.

Bernie Sanders

Senator, Vermont

Bernie Sanders

Pro

  • Green New Deal

Anti

  • Carbon capture
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Geoengineering
  • Nuclear

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon tax
Bernie Sanders
In the view of the scientists who have studied this issue the most, we are fighting for the survival of the planet Earth, our only planet. How is this not a major priority? It must be a major priority.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 92%
Greenpeace A+
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
In the view of the scientists who have studied this issue the most, we are fighting for the survival of the planet Earth, our only planet. How is this not a major priority? It must be a major priority.

The senator from Vermont has doubled down on the idea of a Green New Deal. Not only is he a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution, but he chose the same name for his own $16.3 trillion climate plan. Now he has freshman phenom Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s official backing and recently hit the road in Iowa specifically to tout his climate agenda. Sanders’ enthusiasm for the environment is nothing new: He was raising hell about warming back in the ‘80s, introduced an aggressive cap-and-dividend bill to the Senate in 2013, and called climate change the greatest threat to national security during his 2016 presidential run.

Sanders says his ambitious 2020 climate plan will pay for itself in 15 years. It involves massive investment in solar, wind, and geothermal energy projects, and it slams what the senator calls “false solutions,” including nuclear energy, carbon capture and sequestration technology, and geoengineering. The proposal also takes aim at fossil fuel companies with stronger penalties on polluters and promises to sic the federal governments’ lawyers on Big Oil, just as they were focused on Big Tobacco in the 1980s.

One element of his 2016 plan that apparently didn’t survive the past four years? A carbon tax.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero emissions by 2050
  • $16.3 trillion in federal dollars on “a 10-year, nationwide mobilization centered around justice and equity”
  • 20 million “good-paying, unionized jobs”
  • $40 billion to create a Climate Justice Resiliency Fund to help communities of color prepare for climate impacts

Read Sanders’ Green New Deal plan here.

Mark Sanford

Former representative and governor of South Carolina.

Pro

  • N/A

Anti

  • N/A

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Green New Deal
  • Geoengineering
  • Nuclear
On this issue, the scientific consensus fits with what I’ve seen firsthand, and that is that it’s real
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 28%
Greenpeace N/A
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge No
On this issue, the scientific consensus fits with what I’ve seen firsthand, and that is that it’s real

The most recent Republican to announce a long-shot bid for the 2020 nomination, Sanford acknowledges the existence of climate change (which is more than you can say about his party’s presumptive nominee). He says he’s seen the effects firsthand at his family’s farm in South Carolina, where rising sea levels have turned low-lying land into salt flats.

His positions on some environmental issues are murky. On the one hand, the briefly famous “Love Gov” conserved more land in South Carolina than any other governor and was one of around a dozen House Republicans to break party ranks and support a bill addressing climate change in 2017. On the other, Sanford voted against ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and consistently opposed regulatory measures to protect the environment while in Congress.

Read Sanford’s position in full here.

Joe Sestak

Former representative, Pennsylvania

Pro

  • Carbon tax

Anti

  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Green New Deal
  • Nuclear

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Geoengineering
It is our solemn duty to be good ancestors for the people of the future.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 96%
Greenpeace N/A
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
It is our solemn duty to be good ancestors for the people of the future.

After serving as a three-star admiral in the Navy, Sestak ran for public office. He walked across the entire state of Pennsylvania during his campaign to be elected to the House of Representatives, where he supported legislation to ban fracking, protect waterways, and invest in clean energy infrastructure.

Sestak has made restoring government accountability a priority in his presidential campaign and has pointed to climate as a key issue. Sestak calls for ending fossil fuel dependency, implementing a carbon tax, and adopting more sustainable, carbon-capturing agricultural practices, though he hasn’t laid out any timelines.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • Net-zero emissions by 2050

Read Sestak’s full position here.

Tom Steyer

Founder, NextGen Climate

Tom Steyer

Pro

  • Carbon tax
  • Green New Deal

Anti

  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Geoengineering
  • Nuclear
Tom Steyer
On day one of my presidency, I will declare the climate crisis a national emergency.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score N/A
Greenpeace B+
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
On day one of my presidency, I will declare the climate crisis a national emergency.

After saying he would not run, the hedge fund billionaire turned climate activist and impeachment proponent joined the race in July. His case that Democrats need a climate-focused candidate became a lot stronger when Jay Inslee bowed out in August. After retiring from finance, Steyer has devoted his time and money to efforts aimed at reversing climate change. He’s donated millions to politicians who promise to take action on climate change, and founded the nonprofit NextGen to get young people voting.

Shortly after declaring his candidacy, Steyer released his “Justice-Centered Climate Plan.” The League of Conservation Voters says it “prioritizes community-driven climate solutions while investing in family sustaining jobs.” It also ends giveaways to polluting industries and sets a target of hitting net-zero emissions by 2045.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • Spend $250 billion on a Civilian Climate Corps
  • $2 trillion on infrastructure
  • $50 billion to rehabilitate communities dependent on fossil fuel industries
  • Eliminate unhealthy air pollution by 2030
  • Net-zero emissions by 2045

Read Steyer’s plan here.

Photo: AP

Donald Trump

President of the United States

Donald Trump

Pro

  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Nuclear

Anti

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Green New Deal

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Geoengineering
Donald Trump
I want crystal clean water and the cleanest and the purest air on the planet -- we've now got that!
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score N/A
Greenpeace F
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge N/A
I want crystal clean water and the cleanest and the purest air on the planet -- we've now got that!

Well, where to begin? After calling climate change a “hoax” during his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump has spent his first term equating weather with climate, undoing environmental regulations, stifling or even denying his own administration’s climate change research, announcing the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with the less-ambitious “Affordable Clean Energy Rule,” insulting Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, trying to bail out the floundering coal industry, and crippling the Endangered Species Act. He believes coal is “beautiful” and that wind turbines cause cancer. We could go on.

If Trump were to win a second term, it’s hard to imagine that he would take any action to fight climate change despite his claims (made after skipping a climate meeting at the G7) that he is an “environmentalist” and knows “more about the environment than most people.”

Photo: Whitehouse.gov

Joe Walsh

Former representative from Illinois

Pro

  • N/A

Anti

  • N/A

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Geoengineering
  • Green New Deal
  • Nuclear
lol climate change...or global warming...or whatever they're calling it now.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 4%
Greenpeace N/A
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge No
lol climate change...or global warming...or whatever they're calling it now.

Walsh is a conservative talk show host who was temporarily kicked off the air for using racial slurs in 2014 and worked for the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank. He went from being a Trump supporter in 2016 to one of the president’s primary challengers this cycle.

Climate and environment don’t seem to be central issues in his campaign, but Walsh’s congressional record speaks for itself. He was elected to the House in the 2010 wave of Tea Party candidates and served for one term, during which he voted against regulating polluting corporations and earned an overall score of 4 percent from the League of Conservation Voters. Although in the past he’s been pretty dismissive of climate change, in more recent interviews, Walsh said that his party needs to acknowledge it’s happening and start looking into what it can do about it.

Photo: Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren

Senator, Massachusetts

Elizabeth Warren

Pro

  • Carbon tax
  • Green New Deal

Anti

  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Nuclear

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Geoengineering
Elizabeth Warren
The fossil fuel industry wants us to talk about light bulbs and cheeseburgers, so we don't talk about how 70 percent of pollution comes from transportation, electricity production, and buildings.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score 99%
Greenpeace A-
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
The fossil fuel industry wants us to talk about light bulbs and cheeseburgers, so we don't talk about how 70 percent of pollution comes from transportation, electricity production, and buildings.

Warren’s self-proclaimed top-ticket issue is building an economy that “works for everyone,” so her climate action strategy has largely focused regulating corporations and creating jobs. In the Senate, Warren is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, and introduced legislation last fall that would require corporations to disclose all climate-related risks.

Her “100% Clean Energy for America” plan (one of her seven climate-related proposals) aims to eliminate emissions from buildings, cars, and the electricity sector by 2028, 2030, and 2035, respectively. It builds on a portion of Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s massive climate plan, which he has openly encouraged other candidates to borrow from since leaving the race. At CNN’s recent Climate Crisis Town Hall, Warren made it clear that her No. 1 priority when it comes to the climate is rooting out fossil fuel corruption in Washington. She also proposed adding a “climate adjustment” tax on imports from polluting countries and said no new nuclear power plants would be built under a Warren administration. In October, Warren unveiled a new environmental justice plan and vowed to spend at least $1 trillion of her climate investment on the most vulnerable communities.

Her climate plan, by the numbers*:

  • $1.5 trillion in direct federal investments in clean energy infrastructure
  • $100 billion for a “Green Marshall Plan” to help developing countries to adapt
  • $400 billion for green technology research
  • $3 trillion clean energy investment over a decade, one third of which would go to the most vulnerable communities.

Warren hasn’t released one single “climate plan” but rather seven climate-focused plans for public lands, the military, trade, climate risk disclosure, green manufacturing, 100 percent clean energy and most recently, environmental justice.

Photo: Gage Skidmore

Bill Weld

Former governor of Massachusetts

Bill Weld

Pro

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon price
  • Nuclear

Anti

  • Green New Deal

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Geoengineering
Bill Weld
Europe has its monuments and its cathedrals, and we've got our mountains and our valleys and our rivers and our streams, and we better damn well take care of them.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score N/A
Greenpeace F
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge N/A
Europe has its monuments and its cathedrals, and we've got our mountains and our valleys and our rivers and our streams, and we better damn well take care of them.

Weld is vying for the 2020 Republican nomination (a long-shot campaign, considering there’s already a sitting GOP president with one term left). But the former governor of Massachusetts and Clinton administration vet wants it to be known that he’s no Donald Trump. Weld not only thinks human-made climate change is a thing but asserts that “there’s a pressing need to act.” But his policy ideas are … in process. His campaign website mentions nothing about the climate (or really much else, at the moment).

Weld has called for rejoining the Paris Agreement, emphasized the promise of carbon capture, and professed faith that the free market will save us from warming. He does, however, have one claim to environmental fame: Back in 1996, the then-governor dove, fully clothed, into Boston’s Charles River to celebrate having signed the Rivers Protection Act, which made it harder for development projects to spring up around the Bay State’s waterways.

Photo: Gage Skidmore

Marianne Williamson

Author and spiritual guru

Marianne Williamson

Pro

  • Carbon tax
  • Green New Deal

Anti

  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Fossil fuel subsidies
  • Fracking
  • Nuclear

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Carbon capture
  • Geoengineering
Marianne Williamson
We have an administration that has gutted the Clean Water Act. We have communities, particularly communities of color and disadvantaged communities all over this country, who are suffering from environmental injustice.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score N/A
Greenpeace B
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
We have an administration that has gutted the Clean Water Act. We have communities, particularly communities of color and disadvantaged communities all over this country, who are suffering from environmental injustice.

The best-selling author and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson was one of the first candidates to incorporate environmental justice, particularly justice for indigenous Americans, into her climate plan. She continues to champion that particular cause, and her focus on justice helped provide a breakout moment for the lagging candidate at the second Democratic primary debate.

Williamson also aims to “recarbonize the Earth” (i.e., pull carbon down from the atmosphere), put a price on carbon emissions, phase out sales of new fossil-fueled cars by 2035 — aiming to eliminate them entirely by 2050 — and put a stop to new fossil fuel projects, among other things. She has yet to offer details about how she would accomplish these goals.

Her climate plan, by the numbers:

  • Net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest
  • Decarbonize the electricity sector by 2040
  • Eliminate emissions from buildings by 2050
  • Require industrial corporations to get to zero emissions by 2050
  • Phase out sales of new fossil fuel vehicles by 2035 and eliminate them entirely by 2050

Read Williamson’s full plan here.

Photo: AP / Getty Images

Andrew Yang

Founder, Venture for America

Pro

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon tax
  • Fossil fuel exports
  • Geoengineering
  • Green New Deal
  • Nuclear

Anti

  • Fossil fuel subsidies

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Fracking
There are already climate refugees in the United States of America, people that we relocated from an island that was essentially becoming uninhabitable in Louisiana ... None of this is speculative anymore.
Green Groups Say
LCV Lifetime Score N/A
Greenpeace C+
No Fossil Fuel $ Pledge Signed
There are already climate refugees in the United States of America, people that we relocated from an island that was essentially becoming uninhabitable in Louisiana ... None of this is speculative anymore.

The entrepreneur-turned-presidential-candidate doesn’t have much of a record when it comes to his environmental positions, but Yang has put forth a number of high- and low-tech proposals to tackle the climate crisis, backing a carbon fee and dividend and the preservation of public lands and waterways. Yang is also an enthusiastic proponent of geoengineering: One of his top proposals to combat climate change is creating a “Global Geoengineering Institute.” Even so, he’s said that the solution to climate change had to go beyond geoengineering and focus on broader methods to decarbonize the economy.

Yang’s plan centers mostly on integrating climate and economic reform. He proposed redefining U.S. economic measurements such as Gross Domestic Product to include clean air and clean water assessments. He also proposed a constitutional amendment that would make it “a responsibility of the United States government to safeguard and protect our environment for future generations.” Though he has voiced general support for the Green New Deal, he said he thinks the resolution’s timeline is too rushed.

His climate plan, by the numbers:

  • $4.87 trillion over 20 years
  • 100 percent emissions-free electric grid by 2035
  • Net-zero transportation sectors by 2040
  • Green economy by 2049

Read Yang’s full climate plan here.

Photo: AP | Gage Skidmore

CREDITS:

Executive Editor
Nikhil Swaminathan

Senior Editors
Teresa Chin, Matt Craft, Darby Minow Smith

Associate Editor
Kate Yoder

Research
Miyo McGinn, Emily Pontecorvo

Writers
L.V. Anderson, Eve Andrews, Molly Enking, Nathanael Johnson, Miyo McGinn, Jesse Nichols, Daniel Penner, Emily Pontecorvo, Rachel Ramirez, Paola Rosa-Aquino, Naveena Sadasivam, Zoya Teirstein