He called climate change the greatest threat to our national security. He pulled Hillary Clinton to the left on climate and energy. He did a good amount of yelling. Bernie Sanders is now officially out of the race for president — he endorsed Clinton today — but his campaign did a lot to change our national political conversation, particularly on climate change and energy. Here’s a look back at the Vermont senator’s greatest environmental hits.
On the Democratic platform: Sanders pushed part of his climate agenda into the Democratic Party platform, including a price on carbon, prioritization of clean energy over natural gas, and a “climate test” for infrastructure projects to ensure that they don’t significantly worsen climate change.
On taxing carbon: His climate change plan called for a carbon tax that will “tax polluters causing the climate crisis, and return billions of dollars to working families to ensure the fossil fuel companies don’t subject us to unfair rate hikes.” And it aimed for a 40 percent cut in emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels — a level of ambition on par with Europe’s.
On offshore drilling: The plan also called for ending offshore drilling, for the sake of energy security and the environment. “If we are serious about moving beyond oil toward energy independence, lowering the cost of energy, combating climate change, and cutting carbon pollution emissions, then we must ban offshore drilling,” it read.
On fracking: Sanders wants to ban fracking on public and private lands. If he didn’t get cooperation from Congress, his campaign told Grist he would take a number of executive actions to more tightly regulate fracking and encourage a shift toward renewables. “We cannot allow our children to be poisoned by toxic drinking water just so a handful of fossil fuel companies can make even more in profits,” he wrote in April.
On climate denial: “The reality is that the fossil fuel industry is to blame for much of the climate change skepticism in America,” Sanders says in his climate plan. In October, he joined those calling for the Department of Justice to investigate ExxonMobil’s climate obfuscation.
On Donald Trump’s climate denial: “How brilliant can you be?” mocked Sanders in front of a New Hampshire audience in January. “The entire scientific community has concluded that climate change is real and causing major problems, and Trump believes that it’s a hoax created by the Chinese. Surprised it wasn’t the Mexicans.” Trump, for his part, has a history of flip-flopping on climate.
On encountering a climate-denying teenager: “Thank you for your question. You’re wrong.”
On climate change as a security threat: In an October debate, Sanders said climate change was the greatest threat to U.S. national security: “The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable. That is a major crisis.” In a debate in November, Sanders said that “climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.” (PolitiFact later called out the causality here as Mostly False, but there are indeed some linkages between climate change and war.)
On nuclear power: Sanders wants to phase it out. In March, a campaign spokesperson told Grist, “Whether it’s the exceptional destructiveness of uranium mining, the fact that there’s no good way to store nuclear waste or the lingering risk of a tragedy like Fukushima or Chernobyl in the U.S., the truth is: Nuclear power is a cure worse than the disease.” Instead, Sanders calls for “cleaner energy sources like wind and solar” to meet the country’s energy needs.
On the Paris climate agreement: “While this is a step forward it goes nowhere near far enough. The planet is in crisis. We need bold action in the very near future and this does not provide that,” said Sanders in December. Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta later used this statement to argue that Sanders wanted to back out of the Paris Agreement.
On keeping it in the ground: In November, he cosponsored the Keep It in the Ground Act of 2015, which would halt new coal leases on public lands and prohibit drilling on the outer continental shelf.
On the fossil fuel industry: “To hell with the fossil fuel industry.”
In March, the Climate Hawks Vote PAC ran a survey asking which candidate it should it endorse, and Sanders got 92 percent of the vote. “We need clean-energy leadership in the White House,” wrote the group in its subsequent endorsement of Sanders. “We need a climate revolution.”
Watch Sanders talk about the climate revolution he had hoped to lead in this classic Bernie Brief: