It’s been two decades since a debate moderator asked a presidential candidate a direct question on climate change and 12 years since moderators posed a question on the crisis at all. In 2016, moderators didn’t ask a single question about the climate crisis during any of the four presidential or vice-presidential debates. That was unacceptable then and would be nothing short of dangerous in 2020. This election will be a defining moment for our country. We are truly at the point of no return if we do not act boldly and immediately starting in 2021.
Voters know we’re running out of time to act on climate change, and they want to hear from candidates on how they plan to solve the climate crisis. Between deadly heatwaves, devastating hurricanes, raging wildfires, and supercharged storms, the climate crisis is here. Candidates for the highest offices in the land must answer tough questions on how they’ll meet the challenge. Leading experts have said world governments “need to act now” if there is any hope of mitigating the worst impacts of the climate crisis by 2030.
Americans think the climate is a serious issue, and expect leaders to have a plan. Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government should act more aggressively to combat climate change, and almost as many say the problem is already affecting their community in some way, in a June Pew Research Center survey. According to a June 2020 Yale, Climate Nexus, and George Mason poll, more than 70% of voters support legislation to achieve a 100% clean economy by eliminating fossil fuels.
Here’s what we know about where Presidential candidates stand on climate:
Joe Biden – Listens to the science: Recognizes human-caused climate change as an “existential threat” and has called for partnerships with local universities and national labs for local access to the most relevant science data, information, tools, and training on climate change
Donald Trump – Denies science: Has repeatedly called climate change a “hoax” and said “science doesn’t know” about climate change
Joe Biden – Plans to reduce carbon pollution: Called for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and supports the Clean Cars for America plan that is also backed by car manufacturers and auto workers
Donald Trump – Repealed policies to reduce carbon pollution: Repealed the Clean Power Plan to allow coal power plants to continue polluting our air and rolled back clean cars standards after a lobbying campaign by Big Oil
CLEAN ENERGY JOBS
Joe Biden – Plans to create good paying, union jobs: Oversaw historic investments in clean energy jobs and has a plan to invest $400 billion in clean energy over 10 years creating millions of good-paying, union jobs
Donald Trump – Waged a war on renewable energy: Thinks windmills cause cancer, imposed tariffs on solar, and has cost Americans 1.1. million clean energy jobs
Joe Biden – Plans to fight for environmental justice: Recognizes pollution and climate change disproportionately hurt communities of color, tribal lands, and low-income communities and has proposed a plan to ensure communities harmed by climate change and pollution are the first to benefit from the clean economy
Donald Trump – Rolled back protections for communities of color: Has been rolling back over 100 environmental safeguards, silencing communities of color affected by pollution, and repeatedly trying to defund environmental justice enforcement at the EPA
Joe Biden – Supports electric vehicles and infrastructure: Supports restoring the electric vehicle tax credit and investing in 500,000 new public charging stations for electric vehicles
Donald Trump – Attempted to undermine electric vehicles: Tried to eliminate the electric vehicle tax credit
HOLDING POLLUTERS ACCOUNTABLE
Joe Biden – Plans to hold polluters accountable: Pledged to direct the EPA and Department of Justice to pursue polluters and hold corporate executives personally accountable, including jail time where merited
Donald Trump – Let corporations pollute without consequences: Tried to slash the EPA’s budget and oversaw a historic drop in inspections, fine, and enforcement actions against polluters
Joe Biden – Plans to protect natural resources: Supports conserving 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030, and would create good-paying union jobs conserving our public lands through a Civilian Climate Corps
Donald Trump – Opened 24 million acres to oil and gas mining and drilling: Prioritized fossil fuel drillers above other uses for our public lands, slashed the rates they have to pay to extract our natural resources and blocked rules that gave hunters and anglers more of a say in public land management
Joe Biden – Supports rejoining the Paris Agreement: Supports rejoining the Paris Agreement and said he would directly engage with world leaders to secure commitments to reduce carbon pollution
Donald Trump – Withdrew from the Paris Agreement: Withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, putting the planet at risk while leaders in Europe and China take strides to invest in leading the clean energy economy