When I discussed with my peers the most important issue for a future president to solve, many of them immediately mentioned the climate crisis. The climate crisis is the heating of the Earth’s surface because of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels. This results in long term changes such as increased drought, fires, rising sea levels, and hurricanes. So far in Trump’s presidency, he has managed to undo almost every step forward towards fixing our climate issues that the U.S. government had previously made. He has referred to climate change as a “hoax”, and reversed regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency that were designed to ensure clean air and water. Furthermore, he has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, which is an accord within the United Nations that attempts to fight against the negative repercussions of climate change. As a result of this, it is obvious that Trump is not the candidate that can drastically and efficiently move towards reversing the climate crisis. While the president continues to ignore the glaring truth that is climate change, it is a scientifically proven issue that other promising candidates for the 2020 presidential election refuse to deny. In order to make an educated decision on a preferred candidate for the election, it is important to understand where each of them stands on environmental issues.
It is crucial to clarify the positions of the four front-running democratic presidential candidates with regard to their future plans to address the climate disaster. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg all support aspects, if not all, of the Green New Deal. This bill proposed to the U.S. congress is designed to address climate change by gradually eliminating the use of fossil fuels in the U.S. and restraining greenhouse gas emissions throughout the economy. It also addresses economic inequality by creating millions of new high-paying jobs. All four of the above noted candidates propose plans that entail creating millions of jobs and ultimately eradicating the threat that climate change poses. They all speak of achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, and all but Bernie Sanders believe in a carbon tax.
While there are many things that these candidates agree on, there are also aspects of their climate action plans that display originality. Buttigieg’s agenda highlights climate-friendly farming and develops three investment funds and grants to further technology that will reverse the effects of climate change. Biden specifies that he plans to commit the U.S. fleet to electric energy by 2030, but he does not fully support all facets of the Green New Deal, and his campaign suggests a lesser dedication to climate change than other candidates. Sanders’ campaign promises that the U.S. will run on one hundred percent renewable energy by the year 2030, and he proposes the ban of fracking and terminating the trade of coal, natural gas, and oil. All of Warren’s plans, environmental or not, feature climate change. Her campaign emphasizes reversing the Trump administration’s tax cuts on the wealthy, and then redirecting that money towards eliminating plant-warming emissions, like carbon dioxide from power plants. Despite the differences in these candidates plans, they all have the potential to help reverse the climate catastrophe.
It is easy to fall under the misconception that each detail of our potential future president’s plans “don’t matter.” As students and future voters, it is important to stay educated on the issues that matter most. After all, as one of the youngest generations, the choices that these leaders make will directly affect our future.