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You Can Profoundly Impact Climate Change


Although climate change should frighten you, the question remains, “What can I do about it?” There is a simple, effective way for every American to personally, profoundly impact climate action and it is as close as your local voting booth.

Vote Climate U.S. PAC’s 2020 Presidential Voter’s Guide empowers Americans to make climate change a top priority. Our voter’s guide gives Democrats and Republicans running for president, a climate calculation, clearly distinguishing candidates on the issue. It allows voters to choose climate-action in 2020, perhaps one of our last chances to prioritize the climate emergency.

Our guide sharply differentiates Democratic frontrunners for president on climate change. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders top all candidates, with overall climate calculations of 93.75. By contrast, Joe Biden’s overall climate calculation is 68.75. Compare that to Republican incumbent Donald Trump who is a climate zero. Voting according to our voter’s guide, climate calculations may make the difference between life and death on our planet.

Image result for vote climate change

Photo Source: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

Climate Policy and Our Voter’s Guide

 At Vote Climate U.S. PAC, we built our organizational mission around three, indispensable, policy pillars: putting a fee on carbon pollution; transitioning to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030; and keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Taken together, these policies, which ground our 2020 presidential voter’s guide, will put the U.S. solidly on the path to slowing climate change and the existential threat it represents.

Fee on Carbon Pollution

A fee on carbon polluters is a fee imposed on fossil fuels, ultimately intended to eliminate the emission of carbon dioxide. Vote Climate U.S. PAC believes that a fee on carbon polluters is an essential piece of the Green New Deal or any comprehensive legislation to slow climate change. A carbon fee would compel energy producers to switch from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy or lose their competitive edge.

Polluters, like fossil fuel companies who pump excessive carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, driving climate change and related weather extremes, should pay the price. That is what a fee on carbon polluters would accomplish, especially in a fee and dividend policy, where Americans would receive a regular check, to offset any increase in energy costs that may result.

A fee on carbon pollution must: set an ambitious, concrete goal for emission reductions that is adequate to slow climate change; and place an adequate price per ton of carbon to reflect the societal cost of emissions. It must be paid by the polluters and set a deadline for achieving emission reduction goals, that slows climate change on a timeline for human survival.

Message matters in politics. Polls show that voters want to tax carbon, as long as you don’t call it a “carbon tax.” Call it “a fee on carbon pollution,” or a “fee on carbon polluters,” because that’s what it is.

No presidential candidate merited an overall climate calculation of 100 because nearly all Democratic candidates need to improve their climate calculations in the “carbon fee” category. Warren, Sanders and Biden all support a fee on carbon pollution, but all three score only 75 on carbon fee. They all need to become more powerful advocates and stronger voices on that issue.

100% Renewable Energy by 2030

The world may only have until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The difference between using 100% clean energy by 2030 or 2050, could be the difference between meeting the limit of 1.5 degrees of global warming, set in the Paris Agreement, or not.

The difference between climate calculations for Democratic frontrunners Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden comes partially from Biden’s failure to match Warren’s and Sander’s advocacy for 100% renewable energy by 2030.  Biden’s call for a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by no later than 2050 is too little, too late.

Keeping Fossil Fuels in the Ground

 The transition to clean, renewable energy can happen quickly, but only by keeping fossil fuels in the ground. We need to end fossil fuel subsidies and fossil fuel extraction on public lands, both of which are necessary in order to receive full credit in our voter’s guide.

Vice President Biden supports ending fossil fuel subsidies and ending fossil fuel extraction on public lands, as does Sanders and Warren. But Biden signed the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge” and then violated that pledge by attending a fundraising event co-hosted by Western LNG’s co-founder Andrew Goldman. Senators Warren and Sanders have signed and stayed true to the pledge.

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Photo Source: Green Peace

Other Candidates

 Among other Democratic candidates, Senator Cory Booker, who tied Warren, Sanders, and Tom Steyer with a climate calculation of 93.75, received a 100 for his position on a carbon fee. An achievement not shared by Warren or Sanders. Booker faltered only in not committing to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s refusal to commit to 100% renewable energy also hurt his climate calculation, but he received an 87.50. He got a 100 for his support and public advocacy on a carbon fee, which he endorsed on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show.

Candidates Tulsi Gabbard and Beto O’Rourke’s climate calculations are 62.50 and 68.75 respectively. Neither candidate has backed a carbon fee or the achievement of 100% renewable energy by 2030.

The staggering partisan divide on climate change, between Democratic and Republican candidates for president, is glaring in our guide. Unlike Democratic scores, Republican incumbent Donald Trump is a climate zero and his GOP challengers score little better. No other leadership, anywhere else in the world, denies climate change like President Trump and the Republican party in the U.S. Voters who care about climate change, should shun Republicans presidential candidates from consideration based on their dismal climate calculations, especially the incumbent.

As climate striker Isabel, 15 says, “We’re here to make a difference and make people hear us. We’re not the same, we’re a new generation who will vote them out.” Our Vote Climate U.S. PAC 2020 POTUS voter’s guide provides information on these issues and more to make a personal, profound difference on climate change.


Karyn Strickler is president of Vote Climate U.S. PAC. Jake Assael, lead researcher, contributed to this article.

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