Donald Trump has made no secret of his position on global warming but where do his potential Democrat challengers stand.
Later this month, students around the globe will launch a week-long climate strike, calling for emergency action to reverse climate change and an end to the worldwide dependence on fossil fuels.
In the United States, climate change has taken on an increasingly important role in debates between Democratic contenders hoping to unseat US President Donald Trump next November.
Before Trump came to office, former president Barack Obama had a mixed record on climate change policies. Though he often urged action to combat the problem, his policies fell short, say critics.
And although climate change did not play a leading role in the 2016 elections, it has become one of the crux issues in Democratic debates as the 2020 vote approaches.
But throughout Trump’s time in the White House, the Republican president has focused on growing the production of fossil fuels, which are both bad for public health and harmful for the environment. Trump also withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Accords.
Ahead of a CNN town hall on the climate last week, the presidential hopefuls put out their plans for fighting against climate change. During the town hall, they debated their respective plans.
TRT World breaks down some of the proposals put forward by Democratic contenders hoping to clench the nomination for the 2020 presidential vote.
Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, who served as vice president under Obama, has declined to follow suit with many fellow Democrats advocating a ban on fracking. Failing to put forward specific, detailed policy proposals, Biden suggested that his diplomatic experience would help him arrange an international coalition to fight climate change.
“The fact of the matter is that we make up 15 percent of the problem. The rest of the world makes up 80, 85 percent of the problem,” Biden said.
“If we did everything perfectly – and we must and should in order to get other countries to move – we still have to get the rest of the world to come along and the fact of the matter is we have to up the ante considerably.”
Biden’s plan seeks to “ensure the US achieves a 100 percent clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050”.
Under pressure from grassroots activists, Biden eventually signed a pledge to decline fossil fuel money.
Bernie Sanders, the independent US Senator from Vermont and self-described socialist, has called for the criminal prosecution of polluters.
His plan calls for “reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and complete decarbonisation by 2050 at latest”.
As president, according to his plan, Sanders would “immediately end all new and existing fossil fuel extraction on federal public lands”.
Additionally, Sanders has proposed that the federal government shell out $16.3 trillion in funding over a decade.
Elizabeth Sanders, another progressive candidate, wrote on Twitter on Friday that she would sign “an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands” on his first day in office.
“And I will ban fracking – everywhere,” she added.
Warren has also promoted incentives for farmers to invest in environment-friendly practices that reduce carbon emissions, as well as investments in green research.
She has called on fellow presidential candidates to adopt a 100-percent clean energy platform, and her own plan posits measures to ensure that all new buildings are emission-free by 2028, that electricity is carbon-neutral by 2030, and that all new cars, trucks and buses are emission-free by 2030.
Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, has sought to place climate control at the centre of her presidential campaign, pledging a $10 trillion investment over a decade.
Unlike Sanders, Harris has not explained how much of that investment will come from public funds.
Working with left-leaning lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, Harris has pushed a draft of the Climate Equity Act, which proposes ranking environmental and climate legislation according to its impact on “frontline” communities.
She has joined the chorus of voices calling for a fossil fuel ban on public lands, having signed a pledge to not accept fossil fuel industry funds for her campaign. In the past, she accepted such funds.
She has not, however, thrown her weight behind a fracking ban, and it remains unclear where exactly Harris stands on nuclear energy.
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has proposed a $1 trillion investment and hopes to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Of that total, $200bn will be invested in clean energy research and development, while $250bn will go toward creating the Clean Energy Bank to “finance innovative technologies”, according to CNBC.
A fund of $250bn will be matched by another $250bn in private investment with US companies developing green-friendly technology, the report adds, and $50bn will be allocated to “experimental” ideas.
Additionally, Buttigieg wants to create more than three million jobs in clean energy and clean infrastructure.
He also plans to create a “US Climate Corps,” dedicated to repairing and rebuilding infrastructure in a way that makes it better able to weather the impact of climate change, CNBC reports.
Former Texas lawmaker Beto O’Rourke, a progressive who lost out to incumbent Senator Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterm vote, has little climate legislation record to boast of, but in April he put forward a $5 trillion plan.
In the past, critics note, O’Rourke has voted for legislation favourable to the oil and gas industry, but his campaign has insisted that his views are evolving along with the wider understanding of the threat posed by climate change.
O’Rourke has fallen short of proposing a carbon cap, but he vows to implement a “legally enforceable standard” with the US Congress, with the hope of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
Earmarked in the plan is $1.2 trillion for “economic diversification and development grants for communities that have been and are being impacted by changes in energy and the economy”.
A US Senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker has recently, advocated a $3 trillion climate policy, stating his hope that the economy is entirely carbon neutral by 2045, slightly sooner than the more conservative plans of centrist-leaning Democrats.
Standing out in Booker’s plan is a promise to establish an environmental justice fund, a body that would clean abandoned coal, uranium and hard rock mines, while also planting more than 100 million trees in urban centres around the nation, a move he says would reduce air pollution over the next decade.
On top of $400bn for research and development, the fund’s price tag would run an estimated $50bn per year.
Much of Booker’s climate rhetoric stems from a worldview rooted in the notion of racial equity, and as a senator he has pushed to strengthen environmental programmes on the federal level.
Linked to Booker’s climate plan is a programme to create housing and jobs.
Booker, himself a vegetarian, has also spoken out about the role of the meat industry in climate change.
Andrew Yang, a prominent businessman vying for office, has put forward a climate policy allocating $4.87 trillion over the next two decades.
Hoping to combat the influence of fossil fuel companies in politics, he has argued for a programme he calls “Democracy Dollars”, which would provide voters with $100 to donate to candidates and parties they prefer.
By 2040, Yang hopes, the economy will hit net-zero emissions, and he has proposed a carbon fee that would total $40 per ton and increase every year, all with the hope of pushing fossil fuel companies to reach net-zero goals in infrastructure, transit, and energy, CNBC reports.
His proposed rules – among them requiring all new cars to be emissions-free by 2030, while making electricity net zero by 2035 – have been described as “aggressive”, and Yang wants to halt new leases for oil and gas development on public lands while putting an end to existing leases.
Amy Klobuchar, a senator from Minnesota, has vowed executive action on climate change, CNBC notes.
Within the first 100 days in office, she promises she will renew the Clean Power Plan, rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, and expand on the Clean Air Act.
In addition to $1 trillion allocated to renovating buildings to make them more energy efficient, Klobuchar hopes to create 100 million jobs by offering clean energy bonds possibly reaching $50b.
While scarce on some of the details, Klobuchar plans to meet net zero emissions by 2050.
Overall, her plan is understood to be more conservative than many of her fellow Democratic contenders.
Julian Castro – a Texas Democrat who served as the Housing and Urban Development secretary under Obama – wants to hit net-zero emissions by 2045.
Proposing $10 trillion in federal, state, local and private investments throughout a 10-year period, Castro also says he will create 10 million jobs.
In addition to ending all fossil fuel subsidies, Castro advocates a $200bn Green Infrastructure Fund centred on measures related to water systems, electricity grids, building more public transport and erecting more charging stations for electric cars.
On top of bulking the National Flood Insurance Programme, Castro will institute an updated flood map of the country, while planting more than 30 billion trees in the next 30 years.
He has called for a Green Conservation Corps not unlike Buttigieg’s proposal. And like Booker, Castro has advocated legislation focusing on the racial disparities stemming from climate change.