CLIMATE change is real and it has to be a central part of any serious presidential candidates platform. Here's how all the current candidates from the Democratic and republican parties stand on the issue and how they are going to address it if elected, from +Mother Jones
There's much more variety than you might think.
Sure it's real, but we shouldn't act on it alone, or at all. That's basically the position of our next Republican outlier, Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard. She appears to accept the science (mainly by avoiding it), but she doesn't want to act on it, positioning herself as anti-regulation: "A single nation acting alone can make no difference at all," she told CNBC, and therefore the United States needs to stop "destroying peoples' livelihoods on the altar of ideology." Fiorina's opposition to climate action is pretty standard for the Republican pack. But her rivals have a more problematic history of tangling with the science.
It could be argued that Ted Cruz belongs with the "Do-Nothing Denier" crowd on our matrix. But he at least engages in the science, somewhat. He voted in the Senate to call climate change real, but he has also called it a "pseudoscientific theory." He subscribes to the "there's no warming lately" theory: He told Seth Meyers that "satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years there's been zero warming, none whatsoever"—a statement that one climate expert criticized as "a load of claptrap…absolute bunk." Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky acknowledges that the world is warming because of carbon, but he has also said he is "not sure anybody exactly knows why" climate change is happening. Somewhere over here is Jim Gilmore, the former governor of Virginia, who has, at times, called for acting on climate change, even if he's not totally sure what's causing it. "We do not know for sure how much is caused by man and how much is part of a natural cycle change," he said in 2008, adding, "I do believe we must work toward reducing emissions." More recently, however, Gilmore has called the goal of reducing carbon emissions "ephemeral" if China and India don't act, too.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie likes to brag about his state's position as the country's third-largest solar energy producer—and he did so again during Wednesday night's CNBC presidential debate. But in 2011, Christie withdrew New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program in the Northeast. And while he believes in climate change, he hasn't put forward any concrete proposals yet. I'm going to put Ohio governor John Kasich in this clique, too. He started off sounding pretty moderate on the issue and has historically voiced his support for climate science. But then, as a candidate, he walked his position toward the Republican mainstream by saying, "We don't want to destroy people's jobs, based on some theory that is not proven." Noncommittal, at best.
Three Democrats vying for the nomination—former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley—all believe in climate change, want to do something about it, and have serious plans to combat it. Experts have weighed in on the strengths and weaknesses of each of their proposals, but for the purposes of this chart, they are all in essentially the same place. Clinton has put installing a half billion solar panels by 2020 at the heart of her clean-energy policy and wants to best Obama's own plans by generating 33 percent of America's electricity from renewable sources by 2027. Sanders has said that "we have a moral responsibility to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy and leave this planet a habitable planet for our children and our grandchildren." He's also described climate change as the country's greatest national security threat. O'Malley wants to phase out fossil fuels entirely by 2050. "As president, on day one, I would use my executive power to declare the transition to a clean energy future the number one priority of our Federal Government," he wrote in a USA Today op-ed in June.
Mapping politicians like this is always a tricky process, and some of our expert readers will no doubt disagree with these conclusions. So tell us what you think. Leave your thoughts about the candidates' various plans in the comments below to add to the discussion.