Climate change emerges as major 2020 election platform

Each campaign offers stark difference on role government will play in advancing agenda to mitigate climate change.


Jacqui Fatka, Feedstuffs

Oct 08, 2020


Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, I predicted that the regulatory approach of a Donald Trump Administration would be remarkably different from a Hillary Clinton Administration. Fast-forward to today, and the efforts Trump has made to roll back regulations have undeniably been in stark contrast to the path the Obama Administration took.


In the upcoming election, I think there also will be a vast difference in how each candidate will use government intervention to move the needle on climate change. Make no mistake: Democratic nominee Joe Biden is gearing up for a big focus on climate change if he's elected president.


“Donald Trump's climate denial may not have caused the record fires, record floods and record hurricanes, but if he gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating and more deadly,” Biden said in a speech Sept. 14.


“When Donald Trump thinks about renewable energy, he sees windmills somehow causing cancer. I see American manufacturing — and American workers — racing to lead the global market. I also see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions — and gaining new sources of income in the process,” Biden said.


Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Cal.), has been a major proponent of proposals to address climate change. Before Harris was officially selected as the vice presidential nominee, she most recently worked with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on the Green New Deal, which calls for investing trillions of dollars in public and private funding to mobilize efforts to limit the effects of the changing climate.


In the vice presidential debate on Oct. 7, Vice President Mike Pence was quick to point out that Harris was actually the first senator to sign onto the Green New Deal. He criticized Harris and Biden for using hurricanes and wildfires to “try and sell the goods of a Green New Deal.”


In an exchange on Sept. 14, Trump clashed with California's Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom and his cabinet on the impact of climate change on wildfires.


Wade Crowfoot, California's natural resources secretary, said, “I think we want to work with you to really recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests and actually work together with that science. That science is going to be key, because if we ignore that science and put our head in the sand and think it's all about vegetation management, we're not going to succeed together protecting Californians.”


In a back-and-forth exchange, Trump claimed that it would start to get cooler, to which Crowfoot replied, “I wish science agreed with you.” Trump then said, “Well, I don't think science knows, actually.”


Harris relayed a similar replay of that during the debate, saying: