The climate and decarbonisation policies of leading Democratic presidential candidates suggests the party has become more unified and more progressive on this topic since the end of the Obama administration.
All remaining candidates have pledged to formally recommit the United States to the goals of the Paris Agreement and, with the possible exception of Michael Bloomberg, all have expressed support for the Green New Deal framework.
Taken at face value, this means a Democratic president will seek to not only curtail fossil fuel usage and implement programs to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by around 2050, but also establish ambitious climate-linked social programs for worker retraining, job creation, improved health insurance, and reduced wealth inequality.
While the climate positions of the leading candidates are relatively consistent at a macro level, there are important differences in the details. These include estimates of the cost for reaching net zero carbon emissions, whether the federal government or private industry should take the lead in new energy investment, and the role of nuclear energy and natural gas in a low-carbon future.
Nonetheless, all Democratic candidates present a stark contrast to the Trump administration’s non-existent climate position. If there is a Trump administration climate policy, it appears to be playing down the threats posed by global warming and goading the Democrats into adopting aggressive policies that could prove too radical for moderate voters.
Before the candidates get to contrast their climate vision with President Trump’s lack of interest in the topic, they must first win the Democratic nomination. Differences in climate ambition and policy among the Democratic challengers may yet play an important role in the primary race.
The climate and decarbonisation policies of leading Democratic presidential candidates suggests the party has become more aligned and more progressive on this topic since the end of the Obama administration.