Climate On the Campaign Trail

Mar 15, 2019

As the 2020 Democratic presidential primary heats up, LCV believes it is imperative that all candidates make addressing the climate crisis a top tier priority. We are eager to see a race to the top among all candidates because the stakes have never been higher, and the opportunity to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy has never been greater. LCV is tracking what candidates are doing and saying to prioritize climate change and will be providing updates throughout the 2020 presidential primary.

So far in March, three new major candidates entered the race.

Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA) announced he is running for president at the beginning of the month, making climate change his top priority. Or as Vanity Fair puts it… “to literally save the world.”

Former Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO) also entered the race this month, touting his record of bringing environmentalists and the oil and gas industry together to enact stronger standards for methane pollution.

At his first rally in Denver, he said:

“The first thing we’re going to do is rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and exceed its goals. And we will build a green economy that creates jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, while combating generations of climate change.”

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) called for climate action in a video that launched his campaign:

“Perhaps most importantly of all, because our very existence depends on it, we can unleash the ingenuity and creativity of millions of Americans who want to ensure that we squarely confront the challenge of climate change before it’s too late.”

At a campaign stop in Iowa, he made the case for bold action, detailing the impacts of storms, droughts and other extreme weather events made worse by climate change.

Tackling the climate crisis has also been front and center for most of the candidates already in the race.

At a campaign stop in Nevada, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) connected the broken criminal justice system to failed economic and environmental policies, lamenting:

“The planet is in peril and if we do not act aggressively and boldly we will suffer the consequences.”

He also talked climate action in New Hampshire:

Grist called Democrat Pete Buttigieg, who is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, “2020’s stealth climate candidate,” noting that he is campaigning on “the concern that young people today will likely be stuck with the problems created by older generations, especially climate change.”

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro committed to rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement as his first executive order, which received the “biggest round of applause” during a recent stop in Iowa.

Former Congressman John Delaney said his “primary focus is on climate change,” and he is advocating for a carbon tax and dividend, which is based on legislation he introduced when he was in Congress.

In New Hampshire, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) emphasized the need for global solutions to the climate crisis and added that she believes the Paris Climate Agreement “did not go far enough,” according to The Keene Sentinel.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) underscored the importance of infrastructure, jobs, and clean air and water in the Green New Deal Resolution. She is calling for a moon-shot approach to climate change, noting the intersectional systems of injustice.

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has been pushing for climate action and clean energy at campaign stops across the country, including in Nevada, South Carolina, and Louisiana.  At a town hall in New Hampshire, she acknowledged that climate change is real, poses an existential threat, and that we can do something about it.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called climate change “a day one priority,” and committed to rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and re-establishing standards to reduce pollution from the power sector and the auto industry. She recently hosted a roundtable discussion in Florida focused on the climate crisis.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has made climate change a central issue in his campaign. During a town hall with CNN, he said climate change is:

“An existential crisis that impacts not just you and me and our generation but our kids and our grandchildren.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) explained why she supports the Green New Deal in a new video from her campaign. She has been campaigning against the corruption in Washington that favors the fossil fuel industry over people who are dealing with the impacts of climate change. Check out her recent appearance on the The Late Late Show with James Corden.