In the ensuing 2020 presidential election, climate change is going to be a major concern that will direct American voters with approximately 40% reporting the issue in determining how they cast their ballots, as per the report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
According to the survey of 1,000 and more registered voters on global warming, policies of climate and energy, including personal and collective action, a candidate’s position on climate change is “very important” to 38% voters, and that will determine who will win their vote. The democratic candidates with 64% of Democrat voters are saying they prioritize the issue and are under immense pressure providing green solutions as part of their campaign promises in comparison with only 34% of Independents and 12% of Republicans.
Climate change is now emerging as driving and dividing factor in the political arena. Almost three-quarters of respondents think that global warming is happening (though with varying numbers across party lines) and to half of the registered voters and more, it is driven by human activities according to the survey. Compared to the last survey conducted in March 2018, six-in-ten voters are worried about the current climate status with a marked increase.
On asking how much they would support different government strategies reducing air pollution, three-quarters and more set priority on investing in research on renewable energy and infrastructure and regulating pollution including taxing pollution (the companies required to pay a tax on the pollution they emit to encourage emissions reduction). The maximum number of respondents also supports more specific policies that promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution, including a revenue-neutral carbon tax and a carbon pollution fee that distributes money through monthly dividend checks to U.S. citizens.
Moreover, most of the voters support a Clean Power Plan fulfilling the strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants. A majority of voters want policies that address the pollution causing global warming and reducing pollution investments, regulations, and taxes.
Climate change ranks 17th among the most crucial voting issues and much more polarizing topic compared to abortion. It bears so much impact that almost half of the registered voters agreed on supporting a president who declared global warming – a national emergency in case Congress does not act.
Climate change is at the forefront of the election campaign platform of a small number of presidential candidates of 2020, forming a part of ongoing pressure to counter the climate change effects. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) unveiled in part the Green New Deal, a decade-long plan earlier this year that will “mobilize every aspect of American society … to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all,” as per a section of the resolution from her office posted by NPR.
Michael Bennet, the Colorado Senator, introduced a plan just a few days before to tackle climate change. In this plan, Bennet calls for establishing a “Climate Bank” to use federal spending to incentivize the private sector on their transition to net-zero emissions by 2050. Similarly earlier this month, his opponent Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State announced a clean energy plan dubbed the “100 Percent Clean Energy for America Plan” aiming to phase out coal over the next decade and making all power production emissions-free by 2035.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also threw his name into the running hat, but there is no climate change action in his announcement. Joe’s overall stand on the Green New Deal and fossil fuel infrastructure is not clear. His campaign website promises environmental action but without further details on it. Senator Elizabeth Warren has also promised an executive order to ban new fossil fuel extraction leases in federal lands and waters if elected president.