Where top 2020 candidates stand on climate policy and the Green New Deal

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at a rally May 13. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Green New Deal resolution, introduced in February by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), has helped cement climate change as a real topic in the 2020 presidential race.

What's new: More Democratic candidates have pitched climate change policy that goes beyond the Green New Deal, largely to prepare for events like CNN's "climate crisis" town hall. The GND — which is more of a call to arms than a strict policy proposal — outlines a 10-year mobilization plan to move the country toward a 100% carbon-free power system and a decarbonized economy.

Climate policy from GND co-sponsors

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders: His $16.3 trillion plan to tackle climate change frequently touts the Green New Deal as the driving force behind restructuring how the U.S. consumes energy. His plan references the GND more than other co-sponsors' plans.
    • Sanders wants to invest $200 billion in the United Nation's Green Climate Fund for developing countries and create a $40 billion Climate Justice Resiliency fund.
  • Sen. Cory Booker: His climate plan, which would invest over $3 trillion by 2030 to reach a 100% carbon-neutral economy, would ban offshore drilling and fracking. Racial and social justice are dual focuses in his policy proposal.
    • Booker wants to require all federal departments and agencies create a climate plan and plant 100 million trees in urban areas by 2030 to reduce air pollution.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: Her proposal would invest $10 trillion to meet the GND's 10-year mobilization plan. She would try to pass her GND-focused Climate Equity Act, her Water Justice Act to declare a drinking water infrastructure emergency, and Booker’s Environmental Justice Act.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren: She has multiple climate plans, the latest of which pledges $3 trillion to purchase clean energy products for federal buildings and to invest in zero-emission vehicles and decarbonize other means of transit.
    • She endorsed a carbon tax at CNN "climate crisis" town hall.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Her plan includes a $1 trillion investment to upgrade the U.S. energy infrastructure and promote "green economy" jobs, with a focus on rural areas. She also wants to strengthen tax incentives for climate research.

Climate policy from GND supporters

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden: His plan would invest more than $5 trillion over 10 years and calls for conserving 30% of America’s land and water by 2030, seeking a G20 commitment to end export finance subsidies of high-carbon projects, reducing U.S. buildings' carbon footprint by 50% by 2035, and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Biden supports a carbon tax, and doesn't think a federal push to ban fracking is realistic.
  • Former HUD Secretary Julían Castro: His plan would invest $10 trillion over the next 10 years. He wants the planet to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the U.S. to have carbon-neutral electric power by 2030, create a National Climate Council to organize federal plans on the issue, and make a $200 billion Green Infrastructure fund to finance electric vehicle charging stations and smart grids.
  • Former tech executive Andrew Yang: His plan would invest $4.87 trillion over 20 years, which includes "pre-disaster mitigation grants for high-risk hurricane communities," combating wildfires, establishing a Climate Change Adaptation Institute, and investing in geoengineering research. Yang also wants to incentivize divestment in oil companies.
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg: His plan would put at least $550 billion into 3 investment funds: a "Clean Energy Bank" to fund local clean energy projects, a "Global Investment Initiative" for clean energy and infrastructure projects and to "counter China's Belt and Road initiative," and a "Cleantech Fund" to bankroll "demonstration projects."
    • Buttigieg would also put $200 billion toward job training for workers displaced from fossil fuel companies.
  • Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke: His $5 trillion plan aims for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which he says is "in line" with the Green New Deal. O'Rourke supports a cap and trade system to price carbon, not a carbon tax. He wants to ban offshore drilling and try to prohibit new oil and gas leases on federally protected land.
    • He has not been as publicly clear as other Democratic candidates on how strongly he supports the GND, or what parts of it he supports.

Climate policy from GND opposers:

  • President Trump: His administration has completed 53 environmental policy roll backs, per the NYT, including: lowering regulation requirements of major industrial polluters via the Clean Air Act and loosening offshore drilling safety regulations implemented after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to include more policy information.