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Where Do The 2020 Dems Stand On Climate And Carbon Pricing?

Steve Zwick

Nearly two dozen people have joined the race to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, and all of them – in contrast with their sole Republican counterpart – acknowledge climate science and aim to deal with climate change. In this continuously updating scorecard, we’ll be expanding and clarifying positions as the candidates themselves do.

6 June 2019 (Updated) | 25 January 2019 (Posted) | The two dozen Democratic candidates for President of the United States are finally beginning to offer details on their strategies for ending climate change, with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr each putting up proposals to rival Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s Evergreen Economy plan.

Both of the proposals are heavy on tech but light on natural climate solutions

Warren started the week with a “Green Apollo Plan” that would create a National Institutes of Clean Energy, a “Green Industrial Mobilization” that would support green technologies and a “Green Marshall Plan” that would promote those technologies abroad.

Biden followed a few hours later with a proposal to put a price on carbon and pump $1.7 trillion in public funds into clean energy and other emission-reduction strategies.

As the views come into focus, we’ll be updating them here, and trying to keep it short and focused on a few key issues: support for the Green New Deal, support for the Paris Agreement, and support for carbon pricing.

At the same time, the number of viable candidates throwing their hats into the presidential race is growing, and while all of them advocate action on climate change, few have explicitly said how they will deliver – let alone whether they advocate a price on carbon.

In this scorecard, we will be tracking the candidates’ positions on climate and adjusting them as the positions come into focus. We are also reaching out to the candidates directly with specific questions, and we invite feedback from you on the issues we’ve chosen to highlight.

We want to hear from you, so feel free to contact me at szwick@forest-trends.org or utilize our comments section below. We consider this a living document that will expand, contract, and hopefully sharpen over time. We may change the title as themes emerge, and we may expand beyond the Democratic Party, too. For this list, we focused on declared candidates who have already held public office, and added in Andrew Yang because he seems to drawing attention.

Jay Inslee

General: Washington State Gov Jay Inslee is the only candidates to build his entire campaign on meeting the climate challenge, and he’s unequivocal. “A lot of these candidates want to check the box,” he told Rolling Stone. “Every agency has to be on board, and it has to take priority over everything else we do. You have to build a mandate for this during the campaign, and you have to express a willingness to spend your political capital to get this done. I think too many other candidates are going to say, ‘I’m for the Green New Deal, and now I’m done.’ That just doesn’t cut it.”

He proposes the creation of an “Evergreen Economy” that builds on the Green New Deal and includes something called “ARPA-Ag” to promote research into climate-smart agriculture under the Department of Agriculture.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: As governor, he backed Initiative 1631, which would have implemented a $15 per ton price on carbon, with price increasing $2 per year, but he has not yet formally endorsed a national price on carbon.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

John Hickenlooper

General: While serving as governor of Colorado, Hickenlooper brought the state into the US Climate Alliance, which is a cluster of states that have committed to honoring the US climate action plan submitted under the Paris Climate Agreement. A geologist by training, he also supported Colorado’s massive shift into fracking.

Green New Deal: Tentatively Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: In the past, he’s been skeptical of a carbon tax, and his current position is not clear.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

John Delaney

General: While serving as a Representative in Maryland, he co-sponsored last year’s Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (HR 7173), along with three other Democrats and three Republicans. The returning sponsors say they will re-introduce it in the new session. The bill, in its current form, calls for a $15-per-ton carbon tax, increasing $10 every year, until it reaches $100-per-ton, with much of the proceeds going to low- and middle-income families hit hardest by rising energy costs. The goal is a 40-percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions within 12 years of passage, and a 90-percent reduction by 2050.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Advocates the elimination of fuel subsidies and a carbon tax, but has also expressed support for cap-and-trade.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Elizabeth Warren

General: Warren introduced the Climate Risk Disclosure Act, which would require public companies to quantify and disclose their climate risk exposure. Her proposal builds on the work of Michael Bloomberg’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, which is a global task force designed to promote climate risk disclosure.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Advocates elimination of fuel subsidies, but her plan does not mention carbon pricing.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Cory Booker

General: Booker is a co-sponsor of Warren’s Climate Risk Disclosure Act and has advocated a price on carbon since 2016.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Advocates elimination of fuel subsidies and the imposition of a price on carbon, but has no preference for cap-and-trade vs tax.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Kirsten Gillibrand

General: Gillibrand has supported cap-and-trade since at least 2009 and has proposed but not yet introduced the  Keep it in the Ground Act, which would ban any new leases for gas or oil drilling on federal lands.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: She advocates the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies and vociferously endorses a price on carbon, but is agnostic on whether it should be a tax or cap-and-trade.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Richard Ojeda

General: Ojeda is an Army vet and former West Virginia State Senator who acknowledges the reality of climate science but also says he wants to protect the coal sector.

Green New Deal: Unknown

Paris Agreement: Unknown

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Unknown

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Kamala Harris

General: Harris investigated Exxon Mobil for hiding climate risks from shareholders, and on January 28 she declared climate change “an existential threat to us.”

she’s earned a 100 percent score from the League of Conservation Voters,

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Advocates the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, but her views on carbon pricing are unknown.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Tulsi Gabbard

General: Gabbard introduced the OFF Fuels for a Better Future Act, which would immediately eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels and use the savings to subsidize a transition to 100 percent renewables by 2035.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Has criticized fossil fuel subsidies and spoken in favor of a price on carbon.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Julian Castro

General: As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he oversaw programs designed to improve climate resilience, and as Mayor of San Antonio he encouraged companies to voluntarily embrace sustainable practices.

Green New Deal: Unknown

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Unknown

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Amy Klobuchar

General:A former corporate lawyer, Klobuchar has published a detailed environmental position sheet that recognizes the reality of climate science but is surprisingly short on details.

Green New Deal: No public comments yet

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Unknown

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Pete Buttigieg

General: Buttigieg has vociferously criticized the Trump administration’s recalcitrance on climate issues, but he just joined the race, and his policies are not yet clear.

Green New Deal: No public comments yet

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Unknown

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Beto O’Rourke

General: O’Rourke burst to prominence during the 2016 senatorial race, during which he nearly unseated Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Supports carbon pricing, views on subsidies unclear.

Donors and Campaign Finance: Accepts money from the fossil fuel sector.

Tim Ryan

General: Conservative Representative Tim Ryan has expressed fears that the Democrats can lose the Midwest if they veer too far to the left.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Unknown

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Wayne Messam

General: As Mayor of Miramar, Fla, Messam fought the oil industry and supported the Paris Agreement.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Advocates a carbon tax

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Bill de Blasio

General: The New York Mayor entered the race late.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Unknown

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Steve Bullock

General: As a Democratic governor with a mostly Republican legislature, Bullock has passed plenty of progressive legislation in Montana.

Green New Deal: Not Clear

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Supports a Price on Carbon

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Michael Bennet

General: Came to prominence for unloading on Sen. Ted Cruz during a debate earlier this year.

Green New Deal: Has not supported it, but says he favors zero-emission growth in rural America.

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Unknown

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Joe Biden

General: The former vice president has caught heat for his middle-of-the-road stance on climate change.

Green New Deal: No public comments yet

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Has previously expressed support for a price on carbon

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Seth Moulton

General: This war vet has made climate change one of the five pillars of his campaign.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Supports.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Mike Gravel

General: The 88-year-old former Alaska Senator hasn’t held office since 1981, but was pulled into the race by local teenagers who like his energy.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Supports a “single, harmonized international carbon trading market.”

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Eric Swalwell

General: Another war vet who has vociferously opposed President Trump’s military policies.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Unknown

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Bernie Sanders

General: Sanders has long been an outspoken critic of

Green New Deal: Advocates

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Advocates a carbon tax.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Marianne Williamson

General: Famous for being Oprah Winfrey’s spiritual adviser, Williamson is also a vocal proponent of climate action.

Green New Deal: Supports

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: Advocates investment, but financing mechanism unclear.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Andrew Yang

General: A tech entrepreneur, Yang puts a strong emphasis and developing new technologies,  and advocates the creation of a Global Geoengineering Institute and invite international participation

Green New Deal: No public comments yet

Paris Agreement: Supports

Carbon Pricing and Fuel Subsidies: He advocates the elimination of fossil-fuel subsidies and a “tax on emissions that will fund health care initiatives and research for respiratory diseases that are a direct result of these emissions.” The wording indicates a tax on both greenhouse-gas emissions and other pollutants, given the emphasis on respiratory illnesses.

Donors and Campaign Finance: We’re adding this in response to reader feedback. Updates to follow.

Steve Zwick is Managing Editor of Ecosystem Marketplace and produces the Bionic Planet podcast. Before joining Ecosystem Marketplace, he covered European business for Time Magazine and Fortune Magazine and produced the award-winning program Money Talks on Deutsche Welle Radio in Bonn, Germany.

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