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Where the 2020 Presidential Candidates Stand on Climate Change

Will 2020 be the climate change election?

With candidates Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren releasing their own climate proposals this week, the answer increasingly appears to be a resounding yes.

Fourteen of the 24 Democratic candidates have come out in support of the Green New Deal, while 16 have signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, and all of them seem to support recommitting to the Paris Agreement.

And that’s not all. Here’s a look at the plans 2020 candidates have proposed so far.

Jay Inslee

The ‘climate candidate,’ Gov. Jay Inslee released his third climate plan on Wednesday. He promised a series of proposals that will form his Climate Mission Agenda.

The proposal is robust: his first piece, called “100% Clean Energy for America Plan,” is a $3 trillion investment over 10 years. It includes three targets for 2030—100% clean electricity, 100% zero-emission new vehicles, and 100% zero-carbon new buildings. This piece also includes a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.

The second part of his plan, “An Evergreen Economy for America,” includes among other components a “G.I. Bill” that would help individuals and communities most affected by the transition away from fossil fuels. This would include retirement benefits, health insurance, and training to enter new jobs.

Part two also includes a program that would help retrofit existing public and private structures to meet new energy standards, shift U.S. markets from relying on fossil fuels to renewable sources, invest in sustainable infrastructure and clean energy research, and incentivize clean manufacturing, among others. The plan also prioritizes investments in low-income communities and those most impacted by or vulnerable to pollution and climate change, and has the aim of creating 8 million new jobs.

The latest component, “Global Climate Mobilization,” focuses on reversing many of Trump’s policies and recommitting to a global effort to confront climate change. This includes rejoining the Paris Agreement as well as other international and regional climate plans. It also calls for preparing the U.S. to take more of a leadership role, particularly around global instability resulting from a changing climate, including climate refugees.

Other aspects of the plan include setting stronger climate and labor standards in international trade, increasing investment to build a sustainable global economy, and ending fossil fuel subsidies and increasing global accountability on drivers of climate change.

Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her own climate plan on Tuesday, which includes spending $2 trillion over 10 years to help achieve the targets of the Green New Deal. The investments would target green research, manufacturing, and exports.

It includes three pledges: the Green Apollo Program, Green Industrial Mobilization, and the Green Marshall Plan. The first centers around $400 billion in funding for clean energy research and development over the next 10 years. Green Industrial Mobilization is a $1.5 trillion government commitment to buy American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy products. Finally, the Green Marshall Plan calls for selling these American products abroad and an additional $100 billion in aid for poorer countries to help them buy and use this technology.

Warren pitched her plan as a means to lead the global effort to fight climate change while promoting job creation at home.

Joe Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden also released his Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice on Tuesday. It proposes $1.7 trillion in spending to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

To do so, the plan includes working with Congress to establish an enforcement mechanism by 2025 to penalize polluters, recommitting to the Paris Agreement, incentivizing deployment of clean energy innovations, and a $400 billion investment in clean energy research innovation.

It emphasizes investing in infrastructure improvements to ensure that the country’s infrastructure can withstand the impacts of climate change and imposing tougher fuel-economy standards for vehicles. The plan also calls for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a ban on oil and gas permits on public lands while helping groups disproportionately harmed by pollution.

In addition to the $1.7 trillion, such programs will be funded by rolling back Trump’s corporate tax breaks and leveraging state, private, and local funds to total investments to more than $5 trillion over the next 10 years.

Beto O’Rourke

Beto O’Rourke released his plan in late April, which calls for spending $5 trillion over 10 years to halve carbon emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The proposal includes a series of executive actions to cut pollution, reduce methane leakages, regulate building efficiency standards and hazardous waste limits, block new fossil fuel leases, and re-enter the Paris Agreement, among others. This first part of his plan also calls for leveraging $500 billion in annual government procurement to decarbonize all sectors.

The $5 trillion investment, meanwhile, will go toward infrastructure investment, climate change tax incentives, research and development in renewable and sustainable innovations, and supporting communities throughout this transition.

The last part of O’Rourke’s proposal explicitly calls for providing support to the communities that will be most impacted by the effects of climate change and invest in climate readiness.

Michael Bennet

Sen. Michael Bennet’s climate plan calls for net-zero emissions by 2050. Unlike many of the other plans released so far, Bennet is focusing in particular on agriculture and land, emphasizing a cut to farming and ranching emissions in addition emissions from power plants, transportation, and heavy industry, and conserving U.S. lands.

At the same time, Bennet calls for working with the agriculture industry in these efforts, such as increasing incentives and providing economic certainty for farmers, while encouraging them to voluntary transition toward practices that help reduce emissions and food waste.

Another component of Bennet’s proposal is a “climate bank” intended to drive private investment in innovation and infrastructure and create millions of green technology jobs.

The plan also calls for promoting climate security in the U.S. and abroad, launching a 2030 climate challenge, and a series of “Climate X” options to increase consumer power and choice for clean energy, zero-emission vehicles, and energy efficiency in Americans’ homes.

John Delaney

John Delaney’s climate plan also calls for net-zero emissions by 2050. The $4 trillion plan focuses on six areas: a carbon fee and dividend; direct air capture/negative emissions technology; increasing the renewable energy budget; challenge grants; creating a Climate Corps; and a Carbon Throughway.

The carbon fee and dividend proposes imposing a $15 fee on every ton of carbon dioxide emitted, increasing by $10 every year, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions by 90% in 2050. To fund direct air capture, Delaney calls for ending fossil fuel subsidies and redirecting the funds to invest in these technologies, which are currently too costly to be implemented.

Delaney also proposes increasing funding for renewable energy five-fold at the Department of Energy and increasing renewable energy tax credits to promote private sector investment in renewables.

The plan includes the creation of “challenge grants,” which are intended to spur innovation in a number of areas related to climate change. In addition, it would form a “Climate Corps” for high school graduates to work in low-income areas to help support these communities in their transition to a green economy, as well as a “Carbon Throughway,” which is a $20 billion infrastructure project to safely transport captured carbon dioxide for sequestration or reuse.

Cory Booker

Sen. Cory Booker’s proposal looks a little different from the rest. His “environmental justice plan,” focuses on the disproportionate impacts of climate change and pollution on the poor and communities of color.

It calls for an overhaul of policies that unfairly disadvantage these groups, while strengthening the regulatory practices of the Environmental Protection Agency and reversing rollbacks of environmental safeguards. The proposal also explicitly calls for safeguarding the right to safe drinking water and generally putting the “health of communities ahead of corporations.”

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