Jul 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden rolls out team to boost climate vote

Illustration of Joe Biden tipping over a smoke stack

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden's campaign is unveiling a "Climate Engagement Advisory Council" this morning aimed at "mobilizing" voters who prioritize climate change and environmental justice.

Why it matters: November's election is a stark contrast between Biden, whose platform goes much further than Obama-era policies, and President Trump, who largely dismisses the problem and is rolling back his predecessor's initiatives.

  • And activism stemming from the police killing of George Floyd is putting fresh focus on environmental justice — that is, addressing the disproportionate pollution burdens facing people of color and poor communities.

How it works: Members of the newly unveiled council named this morning are...

  • Tom Steyer, the billionaire activist and donor
  • Dr. Cecilia Martinez, executive director of the Center for Earth, Energy & Democracy
  • Lonnie R. Stephenson, head of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • Deb Haaland, a Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico
  • Carol Browner, a top climate official in the Obama years and current board chair of the League of Conservation Voters
  • Harold Mitchell, Jr., a former South Carolina state representative and founder of the ReGenesis Community Development Corporation

The intrigue: Climate change hasn't traditionally been a high-profile topic in national elections, and it's unclear how much that will change this campaign season and how much it will affect turnout.

  • However, several polls during the Democratic primary fight — like this one — showed that it was among the top tier of voters' priorities, and formation of the council suggests the campaign sees a political opportunity there.

What's next: "The council will work with the Biden campaign to develop and execute plans to engage key communities most affected by climate change and environmental injustices, including young Americans, communities of color, union households, and more," Biden's campaign said.

What we're watching: The new council's rollout comes ahead of expected changes to Biden's climate and energy platform.

  • In April the campaign said Biden planned to add more provisions on environmental justice, as well as "new, concrete goals we can achieve within a decade" and "more investments in a clean energy economy."
  • In addition, Biden and Bernie Sanders have formed joint task forces on topics including climate change, but the groups have yet to unveil their recommendations.

Go deeper: The real importance of Biden's new climate push

Go deeper