Aug 11, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The Democratic fight to shape Biden's climate policy


Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Left-wing climate activists don't want Joe Biden getting advice from people with credentials they don't like — and they're increasingly going public with their campaign.

Why it matters: Nobody is confusing Biden with President Trump, and his climate platform goes much further than anything contemplated in the Obama years.

  • Wider battles — in public and behind the scenes — loom within Democratic and progressive circles over staffing and nomination decisions.
  • Already, per Bloomberg, some activists are pressing Biden to "distance himself from former Obama administration advisers they view as either too moderate or too cozy with the fossil-fuel industry."

What's new: Later Tuesday, groups including Stop the Money Pipeline, and Climate Finance Action plan to stage demonstrations at offices of investment behemoth BlackRock in four cities.

  • They don't want Biden to bring BlackRock execs into his administration if he wins, citing the company's investments in fossil fuels despite its sustainability initiative launched this year.
  • The demonstrations will be in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco.

What's next: Look for these debates to intensify if Biden actually wins, which is the priority for the environmental movement, especially the biggest and most influential groups.

  • The Sierra Club endorsed Biden yesterday, an expected move but one that signals a flurry of activity to come as the race intensifies this fall.
  • "Along with its endorsement, the Sierra Club has launched the biggest grassroots political operation in the organization’s 128-year history," the group said.

Where it stands: Biden's network of aides and informal advisers is pretty broad.

  • It spans former Obama-era hands but also outside activists, and he's conferred with officials like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, whose call for a 100% clean power mandate by 2035 was recently added to Biden's platform.

Quick take: "Personnel is policy," as Sen. Elizabeth Warren likes to say.

  • But Senate makeup and rules, the judiciary and competing priorities are probably bigger hurdles to sweeping action than outside advisers or potential appointees who aren't Green New Deal-y enough for some activists.
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