The 2020 Democratic Candidate Who Cares The Most About Climate Change

Hint: It’s not Joe Biden. About 45 percent of Americans assume man-made climate change won’t threaten their livelihoods during their lifetimes (most of them are wrong), and Biden certainly seems to count himself a member of that group. His 2050 target to cut emissions to zero might sound like a great talking point, but we don’t have 31 years to get this job done: we have only the here and now. Taking any longer will doom us all — that’s the unpopular truth.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is the most important candidate as far as climate change policy is concerned, albeit one of the least likely to remain viable throughout the Democratic contest. 

That didn’t stop him from outright slaughtering Biden during the debates: “These deadlines are set by science,” he said directly to the former vice president. “The science says we have to get off coal in ten years. Your plan does not do that. We have to get off of fossil fuels from our electric grid in fifteen. Your plan simply does not do that. I’ve heard you say we need a realistic plan — survival is realistic and that’s the kind of plan I have.”

Inslee is best known for going all-in on averting a climate change disaster.

He has unveiled extensive and detailed plans about what his climate change policies would look like, and they’re no joke. He wants to prohibit the practice of fracking. He wants to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. He wants to bring back the many environment-related regulations axed by the Trump Administration. He wants to give the EPA sharper teeth to deal with individuals and organizations that pollute. He wants to bar infrastructure that negatively impacts the environment. He wants to hold corporations accountable for their part in the damage already done.

He wants to kill the filibuster to give these policies a real chance.

By 2030, Inslee wants 100 percent carbon-neutral electricity, 100 percent zero-emissions in most new vehicles, and 100 percent zero carbon pollution for new buildings. There is a long list of methods for getting us there in a very short amount of time we have available. 

Inslee wants to offer tax credits to individuals and organizations that invest in clean-energy projects. He wants to make community investments, implement performance-based utility regulation, increase development of renewable sources of energy on federally-owned land and water, expand energy financing programs, increase performance on existing energy structures to distribute the renewable forms of energy we already have more efficiently, and much, much more.

Truly, Inslee’s plan simply does not leave room for debate. Perhaps the other candidates should take a pledge to involve him in their own administrations, and make his goals their goals, should any of them win the office of President of the United States.