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Published on November 7th, 2019 | by Winter Wilson


Ranking Democratic Presidential Contenders’ Climate Policies — CleanTech Talk with Mike Barnard

November 7th, 2019 by  

In the second half of this episode of our CleanTech Talk podcast interview series, Zach Shahan continues his conversation with Michael Barnard, Chief Strategist of TFIE Strategy Inc. and CleanTechnica contributor, about the role of climate change plans and policies in the 2020 presidential election. You can listen to the full conversation in the embedded player below. Below that embedded SoundCloud player is a brief summarization of the topics covered, but tune into the podcast to follow the full discussion.

You can subscribe and listen to CleanTech Talk on: AnchorApple Podcasts/iTunesBreakerGoogle PodcastsOvercastPocketPodbeanRadio PublicSoundCloudSpotifyStitcher, or via the embedded SoundCloud player above.

Mike and Zach move forward in this podcast with commentary on Democratic presidential candidates and their climate action plans. Mike explains that, if two parties accept the same facts and one has a moderate approach and one has a more radical approach, the one with the more radical approach tends to win. He says that Republicans have to accept climate change or they will lose the presidency, while Democrats may lose votes if their approaches to climate change are not intense enough.

Mike and Zach move on to explore the kind of voter attention climate action plans might attract. According to Mike, the right kind of climate solutions have the ability to motivate a voter base and draw independents, but he is curious to see what each climate action plan actually covers. Mike believes the most important factors for each climate action plan to cover are: electricity generation, transportation, industry, and land use.

To evaluate how these five factors play out in presidential candidate climate action plans, Mike focuses on five candidates: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Andrew Yang.

Mike explains he added Andrew Yang to the list because of his interesting relationship with climate change policy. Andrew Yang agrees with some of the fundamentals of the Green New Deal: that things are not right for the average American worker any more and must change. But instead of labor arbitration, protecting workers, and minimum wage, Yang focuses on universal basic income (UBI), using it as a tool to handle job displacement from mechanization within different industries.

But despite Mike’s interest in Yang’s approach, Mike ranks Yang as second worst from a climate perspective. Who is last? According to Mike, it’s Joe Biden. While Mike believes Biden’s transportation and foreign policy components to his plan are well articulated and thought through, he falls short in other areas. Third best on Mike’s list is Bernie Sanders, who focuses predominantly on electric cars and transportation but is potentially too extreme or narrow with his path to get there. Mike’s choice for second best is Warren, who Mike believes understands what powers are in play and which levers she would pull in order to achieve the outcomes she has been promising. And finally, Mike believes that Kamala Harris has the best coverage of any of the plans. Her plan focuses on explicit legislation she would pursue and allies in congress who already have viable climate action plans.

As Mike and Zach wind down to the end of this two-part podcast, both are curious as to how strongly climate change will play a role in the upcoming presidential election. They discuss the 2016 presidential election a bit and the importance of attracting swing voters in the election of 2020.

To hear more on these topics, as well as Mike’s opinion on who will receive the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential election, listen to the show!

Errata: After publication of this podcast, Ike Kirby, PhD, Enviro Policy Advisor to Kamala Harris, reached out to Michael to point out that he had made an error while speaking. Harris does indeed intend to price carbon, as stated in Michael’s article on her plan and the comparison article across plans. Thanks to Kirby and Harris for reaching out to ensure we get it right. 


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About the Author

Winter Wilson is a Cutler Scholar and undergraduate student double majoring in Environmental Studies and Journalism at Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College, with a minor in French. Her academic interests include environmental communication, technology and social innovation, especially as they relate to international climate change mitigation and adaptation. Though Winter attends school in her hometown of Athens, Ohio, she takes advantage of her breaks to explore the world beyond. She spent her most recent break undertaking self-driven research on climate change and environmental justice in Southeast Asia. This year, she will be completing her dual thesis and supplementary documentary series on climate change communication. Winter is excited to contribute to and work with the team at CleanTechnica as a Summer Editorial Intern.

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