Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The 2020 Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

2020 contenders will square off — sort of — over how to tackle the climate crisis.

By Alexander C. Kaufman and Chris D’Angelo

The 2020 Democratic presidential primary is already shaping up to be the most climate-centered election in modern history.

Some candidates in the crowded field crafted multi-thousand-word proposals that provide clear paths forward. Others have done little more than promise to reenter the U.S. into the 2016 Paris climate agreement ― a pledge that one 2020 contender dismissed during a debate as “kindergarten.” A candidate who dropped out last month ran solely on a book-length stack of climate policies.


Even as Democratic Party leaders quash efforts to organize an official debate on the climate crisis, TV networks stepped in to hold climate forums with the Democratic candidates. The first, CNN’s marathon seven-hour affair, is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

Ahead of the event, we put together a cheat sheet to help readers understand the policies each campaign has put forward. This is by no means a comprehensive accounting of the proposals, but it offers a quick way to compare the candidates.

We excluded low-polling candidates who so far have added little to the climate debate, such as former Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam. We included scores from Data for Progress on candidates whose proposals the left-leaning think tank analyzed, as well as some answers candidates submitted in response to a recent survey by The Washington Post.

The list also includes Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who until last month was the race’s climate candidate, for comparison.


Mindi Messmer