Where the Democratic Candidates Stand Ahead of Wednesday's CNN Climate Forum

As 10 of the 21 Democrats still vying for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination prepare to sit down with CNN for the network’s climate town hall on Wednesday evening, the threat of a changing environment is squarely on the national mind as Hurricane Dorian lashes the Southeastern U.S. after a devastating hit on the Bahamas.

“As fires rage in the Amazon and Hurricane Dorian threatens the Southeast after pummeling the Bahamas, the gravity of the climate crisis is impossible to ignore for everyone but Donald Trump,” said Greenpeace U.S.A. senior climate campaigner Jack Shapiro. “At this stage in the race, no serious candidate can afford to put climate policy on the backburner.”

Greenpeace’s ranking of the candidates can be found on the group’s homepage.

The 10 candidates have all delivered plans to address the climate crisis—but differ in the details of their approach. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), for example, has pledged to spend over $16 trillion to combat climate change in order to hit an ambitious goal of zero emissions in the electricity and transportation sectors by 2030 and the full economy by 2050. Most of Sanders’ opponents, on the other hand, like South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have only committed to a full zeroing out of the economy by 2050. Buttigieg has only pledged $2.5 trillion to the effort. 

You can read more about the plans at HuffPost and find a comprehensive rundown of the candidates on environmental issues from Inside Climate News here and from The Guardian here. 

Here’s where the candidates stand on some of the key issues of the climate crisis:

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy is controversial in the climate movement. Presented by energy interests as an acceptable alternative to fossil fuels in a zero emissions future, green groups regularly point out that the cost of nuclear power outweighs any benefits.

Still, a number of contenders support nuclear power as at least a temporary source of energy for the country.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) centers nuclear power in his climate plan, saying earlier in 2019 that it is “imperative for the United States to lead the way on tackling the world’s climate crisis, and that must include the development of clean and innovative technologies like next-generation nuclear energy.”

Booker is joined by businessman Andrew Yang and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke in supporting new investments in energy.


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