2020 Elections

Here's where the top Democratic 2020 candidates stand on climate change

Key Points
  • 10 Democratic candidates are set to participate Wednesday night in a "Climate Crisis" town hall hosted by CNN addressing each candidate's policy platform.
  • Climate change has escalated into one of the most important issues for Democratic voters, in addition to health care.
  • Before each candidate takes the stage, here's the rundown on where each stands on addressing climate change.
Democratic presidential candidates Marianne Williamson, (L-R), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, former Maryland congressman John Delaney, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock take the stage at the beginning of the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 30, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

Ten Democratic presidential candidates are set to participate Wednesday night in a "Climate Crisis" town hall hosted by CNN.

Climate change has escalated into one of the most important issues for Democratic voters, so before each candidate takes the stage, here's the rundown on where each stands on addressing climate change:

Joe Biden

The former vice president, who leads the field in polling averages, put forth a substantial 10-year investment of $1.7 trillion, $400 billion of which will be dedicated to "clean energy research and innovation."

Biden's plan calls for a mix of state, local and private sector investments totaling $5 trillion, relying less on federal investments to spur a shift in energy consumption. Biden's proposal also relies on controversial "carbon-capture" technology, as well as investments in nuclear energy.

Bernie Sanders

The Vermont senator proposed his own "Green New Deal" calling for a $16.3 trillion federal investment over 15 years in renewable energy and public infrastructure.

It is by far the largest proposal by any of the candidates in the field and plans to create 20 million new jobs by building a 100% renewable transportation and electric grid by 2030. It also calls for "complete decarbonization" of the energy sector by 2050, and ending federal investment and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry entirely.

Elizabeth Warren

The Massachusetts senator proposed a $2 trillion green manufacturing plan in June, comprised of a "National Institutes of Clean Energy" to manage a $400 billion "Green Apollo Program;" a $1.5 trillion "Green Industrial Mobilization" of American-made renewable energy products; and a $100 billion "Green Marshall Plan" to encourage foreign investment in American renewable products.

Since then she's taken a page out of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's playbook and tacked on an additional $1 trillion investment over 10 years focusing on the transition to 100% renewable energy, green infrastructure and zero-emission vehicles. Inslee dropped out of the presidential race last month.

Julian Castro

Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary and mayor of San Antonio, proposed $10 trillion in federal, state, local, and private investments over 10 years with the goal of creating 10 million new jobs.

Castro set a net-zero emissions goal of 2045, and partially plans to achieve it by totally ending fossil fuel subsidies. He plans to create a $200 billion Green Infrastructure Fund to manage water systems, energy grids, public transit infrastructure and electric vehicle charging stations.

Castro also plans to strengthen the National Flood Insurance Program and institute a comprehensive update of America's flood maps, plant 30 billion trees by 2050, and create a "Green Opportunity Corps" in the vein of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Andrew Yang

Businessman Yang has proposed a climate policy of $4.87 trillion over 20 years centered around his "Democracy Dollars" program, a $400 billion fund which gives American voters $100 annually to donate to the candidate or party of their choice. Yang hopes the direct democracy in the process will wash out the influence of fossil fuel companies.

Additionally, Yang proposes an entirely net-zero economy by 2040 and a radical carbon fee of $40/ton, which would increase every year until fossil fuel companies hit net-zero goals in transit, energy, and infrastructure.

Kamala Harris

The California senator has pledged $10 trillion in public and private investment over 10 years to transition to clean energy. She plans to reach a goal 100% of carbon-neutral electricity by 2030 and a 100% clean economy by 2045.

Harris' Climate Equity Act, which she proposed with Green New Deal sponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, requires each new piece of climate-related legislation to be scored for its benefits to underserved and minority communities.

Harris also proposed a progressively increasing carbon pollution fee, to be overseen and enforced by the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance as well as ending fossil fuel subsidies entirely.

Amy Klobuchar

The Minnesota senator's plan emphasizes executive action when it comes to combating climate change. In her first 100 days, she plans to restore the Clean Power Plan, reenroll the country in the Paris Climate Agreement and strengthen the Clear Air Act. Her policy also focuses on improving broadband access in underserved communities in rural America.

Klobuchar's policy also includes a $1 trillion infrastructure package to retrofit buildings to make them energy-efficient, build climate resilience and make new buildings climate-friendly. Klobuchar also aims to distribute clean energy bonds which could raise up to $50 billion and create over 1 million jobs.

Pete Buttigieg

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor on Wednesday unveiled a climate change plan that would include more than $1 trillion in federal investment, with a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and creating over 3 million clean energy and infrastructure jobs in the next decade.

The proposal includes a $200 billion investment over 10 years in clean energy research and development, the creation of a $250 billion Clean Energy Bank to finance innovative technologies, a $250 billion fund matched with $250 billion in private investment with American companies to lead development of green technologies and a $50 billion seed fund for riskier and experimental ideas.

Additionally, it calls for the creation of a "U.S. Climate Corps" open to high school graduates dedicated to educating communities and rebuilding infrastructure to make it more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Beto O'Rourke

The former Texas congressman and failed U.S. Senate candidate released a $5 trillion plan in late April with a net-zero emissions goal of 2050. It posits instituting " a legally enforceable standard" with Congress but it is unclear as of now whether that means a carbon tax, cap-and-trade system or something else entirely.

O'Rourke plans to leverage $500 billion in annual government funds to decarbonize and create a "buy clean" program for steel, glass, and cement. Additionally, his plan allocates more than $1.2 trillion in housing, transportation, public transit and small business grants to revamp the nation's economic infrastructure.

Cory Booker

The New Jersey senator released his $3 trillion climate policy Tuesday, with ambitious goals to transition to 100% carbon-neutral economy by 2045.

Booker's proposal calls for the establishment of an "Environmental Justice Fund" dedicated to causes such as completely replacing all lead drinking water service lines, cleaning up every abandoned coal, uranium and hard rock mine in the country and planting 100 million trees in urban areas over the next decade to reduce air pollution.

The fund would cost $50 billion a year in addition to $400 billion allocated to new research and development in the energy sector.