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Former vice president
Biden supports a price on carbon, a campaign spokesman told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
Former New York mayor
“Yes. Companies should not be allowed to dump unlimited carbon pollution into the atmosphere at no cost,” Bloomberg told The Post. “Putting a price on carbon should be one among many actions the federal government takes to combat climate change.”Candidate positions highlighted
Former mayor, South Bend, Ind.
Buttigieg supports a price on carbon, he told The Post. “And I know you’re not supposed to use the T word when you’re in politics, but we might as well call this what it is. There is a harm being done, and in the same way that we have taxed cigarettes, we're going to have to tax carbon,” Buttigieg told a CNN climate town hall. “Now, the difference with my plan is that I propose that we rebate all of the revenue we collect right back out to the American people on a progressive basis, so that low- and middle-income Americans are made more than whole. ”Candidate positions highlighted
U.S. senator, Minnesota
Asked about paying for her plan at a CNN climate town hall, Klobuchar said, “You can do it with simply a carbon tax, or you can do it with a combination with the renewable electricity standard. I’d want to see who we have in Congress and how far we can move. So that alone will bring in trillions of dollars. And some of that can be used, of course to help communities that are going to be affected by this, and by the transition and make sure people have jobs coming out of this.” She supports a federal carbon-pricing mechanism, her campaign told The Post. Her climate plan called for, “adopting a carbon pricing program that does not have a regressive impact on Americans.”Candidate positions highlighted
“I support putting a price on carbon. A price, however, will not in itself offer a complete solution to the climate crisis. Any carbon price must be part of a comprehensive plan to decarbonize as quickly and equitably as possible,” Steyer told The Post. He funded an effort to pass cap and trade in Oregon in 2018.Candidate positions highlighted
“We need to have a carbon tax because we need to have polluters internalize the cost of their pollution,” Yang told a CNN climate town hall. “And so you start at $40 a ton and then you ramp up to $100 a ton to give them time to adjust. But these companies only operate on the bottom line. You can’t say do the right thing and then have all the executives get paid for making tons of money at the expense of the earth.” On Yang’s campaign site he pledged to “institute a tax on emissions that will fund health care initiatives and research for respiratory diseases that are a direct result of these emissions.”Candidate positions highlighted
Cory Booker (Dropped out)
U.S. senator, New Jersey
Booker is no longer running for president. “[F]ossil fuel producers would immediately begin to pay a carbon fee on fossil fuel sources at the coal mine, natural gas wellhead and oil refinery,” Booker's climate plan said. “The carbon fee would rapidly increase and be complemented by a 100% clean energy standard for electricity generation by 2030, ensuring all electricity is emissions-free and that all communities are free of the health costs and environmental pollution from this sector. Industrial sources of emissions would become subject to the fee in 2030, in order to allow time for technology development. By paying the true societal cost of production — not just for capital and labor but also the impact on communities and our environment — people and businesses will more quickly shift to zero emission sources of energy and less carbon-intensive goods and services. Under [Booker's] plan, substantial revenue raised through the carbon fee will be returned directly to households in the form of a monthly dividend check.”Candidate positions highlighted
Steve Bullock (Dropped out)
Bullock is no longer running for president. “Yes. We need to address climate change with transformative solutions — from rejoining the Paris Agreement and restoring global climate leadership, to significantly expanding renewable energy, improving energy and fuel efficiency, investing in carbon capture, increasing royalties on oil and gas drilling, and a carbon tax shouldn’t be off the table if it contains safeguards to ensure lower-income communities are not disproportionately affected,” Bullock told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
Julian Castro (Dropped out)
Former mayor, San Antonio
Castro is no longer running for president. Castro supports setting a price on carbon, he told The Post. “By 2030, we will replace all electricity generated by coal to zero-emission sources. I support a new 'carbon pollution fee' on up-stream, large-scale polluters for greenhouse gas emissions and investing that revenue in renewable energy, environmental justice, and climate resilience,” Castro's climate plan said.Candidate positions highlighted
Bill de Blasio (Dropped out)
Mayor, New York City
de Blasio is no longer running for president. De Blasio supports setting a price on carbon, he told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
John Delaney (Dropped out)
Former U.S. representative, Maryland
Delaney is no longer running for president. “The largest component of Delaney’s climate plan that will have the biggest impact is his Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal,” his campaign website said. “While in Congress, Delaney introduced the first bipartisan Carbon Fee and Dividend bill in over 10 years. The proposal starts the fee at $15 per metric ton of CO2 equivalent and increases the cost by $10 each year. Implementing a carbon fee, where the revenue is returned to the American people, is the best method for providing the market incentives to reduce our emissions.”Candidate positions highlighted
Kirsten Gillibrand (Dropped out)
U.S. senator, New York
Gillibrand is no longer running for president. “We need to put a price on carbon,” Gillibrand's campaign website said. “If we’re going to get serious about stopping the effects of climate change, we have to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels—and the worst carbon polluters should pay to fix the damage they have caused. Kirsten would use incentives to steer companies away from fossil fuels and toward clean and renewable energy sources. She would also make climate polluters pay to address the impacts of climate change by establishing a new climate mitigation trust fund paid for by an excise tax on fossil fuel production.”Candidate positions highlighted
Kamala D. Harris (Dropped out)
U.S. senator, California
Harris is no longer running for president. “A climate pollution fee can play an important role as one of several interrelated policies to reduce emissions and hold polluters accountable,” Harris's climate plan said. “As Governor Inslee noted, a price on pollution is not a silver bullet, but by placing a progressively increasing fee as far upstream as possible, we can drive down pollution while raising government revenues that can be used to address the harms of greenhouse gas emissions. However, history shows us that reliance on market mechanisms alone can often leave communities behind. That’s why [Harris] will involve frontline communities in the fee development process, and would ensure that the fee revenues are invested back into those communities to improve environmental conditions and local economic development.”Candidate positions highlighted
John Hickenlooper (Dropped out)
Former governor, Colorado
Hickenlooper is no longer running for president. “We must unleash market forces to help solve the emissions challenge,” his climate plan said.Candidate positions highlighted
Jay Inslee (Dropped out)
Governor, Washington state
Inslee is no longer running for president. Inslee is calling for placing a “Climate Pollution Fee” on greenhouse gas emissions. “While putting a price on the cost of climate pollution does not represent a single silver bullet,” Inslee’s Freedom from Fossil Fuels plan states, “it nonetheless remains an effective tool for both ensuring that polluters pay and for generating new revenue to address the harms caused by those emissions.” A ballot initiative to impose fees on carbon emissions in Washington state that Inslee championed fell short in November.Candidate positions highlighted
Seth Moulton (Dropped out)
U.S. representative, Massachusetts
Moulton is no longer running for president. “Yes, I support setting a price on carbon,” Moulton told The Post. “Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are 33% higher than any time in the last 400,000 years. Carbon emissions have a cost to society and if that cost is not included we all will have to pick up the tab. For a specific pricing mechanism, I prefer a carbon tax, one that starts low but ramps up considerably over time. As a flat tax with regressive impact, the bulk of the revenue generated should be directed back at the majority of Americans on a means-tested basis. A carbon tax of this form would result in progressive policy on climate while making some progress on income inequality.”Candidate positions highlighted
Joe Sestak (Dropped out)
Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania
Sestak is no longer running for president. “Yes, I support a carbon fee and dividend approach, with proceeds primarily going back to citizens, but with some going to research and development of clean energy and other climate stabilizing technologies — particularly removing CO2 from the atmosphere,” Sestak told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
Marianne Williamson (Dropped out)
Williamson is no longer running for president. “I feel a federal carbon tax is important and is only one tool that we will need to address this imminent threat to our communities, country and environment,” Williamson told the New York Times.Candidate positions highlighted
Open to it
Open to it
U.S. senator, Colorado
“There are a variety of tools we can use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I think we should include the country in making that decision, rather than making it from Washington,” Bennet told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
Former governor, Massachusetts
Patrick has said that a cap-and-trade system is not enough of a strategy. His campaign said he was open to a carbon pricing mechanism.Candidate positions highlighted
U.S. senator, Massachusetts
Warren is open to setting a price on carbon, her campaign told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
Tim Ryan (Dropped out)
U.S. representative, Ohio
Ryan is no longer running for president. “I would be willing to consider a cap-and-trade system for our worst polluters as we transition into an era of cleaner, renewable power generation for the entire country,” Ryan told The Post. “The plan would have to mimic the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which has been successful in paying off economic dividends to participating states, as well as prioritize revenues directly helping the consumers and workers affected by our transition to clean energy.”Candidate positions highlighted
Eric Swalwell (Dropped out)
U.S. representative, California
Swalwell is no longer running for president. “I am willing to explore and pursue both options — I’m in favor of anything that leads to rapid and profound reduction of carbon pollution,” Swalwell told The Post. “Cap-and-trade has been a major factor in putting California at the forefront of fighting climate change; we know strong economic incentives can be effective. It is also important that the revenues from such a mechanism are used to fight climate change such as investing in renewables and green infrastructure.”Candidate positions highlighted
U.S. representative, Hawaii
“Ultimately I don't think that the carbon tax is the right way to get us there. Instead of passing the costs on to those who can least afford it, I will end corporate welfare to fossil fuel and nuclear power companies,” Gabbard told The Post.Candidate positions highlighted
U.S. senator, Vermont
A Sanders campaign spokesperson told The Post in Nov. 2019 that the senator is now opposed to a carbon tax. Previously, a spokesperson told The Post in May 2019 that Sanders was open to a carbon tax, but warned at the time that “our window for action is closing” and “a price on carbon must be part of a larger strategy and it must be formulated in a way that actually transitions our economy away from fossil fuels and protects low-income families and communities of color.”Candidate positions highlighted
Climate change has emerged as a key issue in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Candidates frequently discuss it on the campaign trail and often face questions from the audience on how they will address the issue.
Some Democrats have soured on pricing carbon emissions, which many economists view as a cost-effective way for countries to reduce emissions, although it would increase energy prices for consumers, with poorer households being disproportionately affected. The field also splinters on what to do about fracking and nuclear power, though most support rejoining the Paris climate agreement and an end to leasing for fossil fuel extraction on federal lands.
The Democratic takeover of the House refocused the climate conversation in Washington. In 2019, freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) along with Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a nonbinding resolution calling for a Green New Deal, which aims to achieve a “fair and just transition” to net-zero emissions and ties climate action to other progressive goals such as universal health care and a jobs guarantee. The resolution, which became the subject of GOP mockery, has drawn criticism from labor leaders and some Democratic presidential hopefuls.
Where the candidates stand
Here’s where 2020 candidates stand on issues related to climate change, based on candidate statements, voting records and answers to a questionnaire we sent every campaign.
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A previous version of this article incorrectly categorized Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro’s responses to the Paris climate agreement question.
How we compiled candidate positions
The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic campaign asking whether they support various climate change policies. We organized candidates with similar stances into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town halls and other news reports. See something that we missed? Let us know.
This page will update as we learn more about the candidates’ plans. We also will note if candidates change their position on an issue. At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president. If a candidate dropped out after a question was published here, their stance is included under the "Show former candidates" option. If they dropped out before a question was first published, the Post did not reach out to get their stance.
Candidate illustrations by Ben Kirchner.
Recent changes on this page
Jan. 31 Adjusted Patrick's stance on fracking after additional input from his campaign.
Jan. 31 Delaney dropped out of presidential race.
Jan. 18 Included Patrick's support for the Green New Deal, stopping the expansion of nuclear energy at this time, a moratorium on fracking, ending fossil fuel extraction on public lands and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.
Jan. 17 More clearly explained Sanders's stance on a carbon tax. Adjusted question order.
Jan. 13 Booker dropped out of presidential race.
Jan. 10 Williamson dropped out of presidential race.
Jan. 6 Added Bloomberg answers on climate change in survey responses returned by his campaign.
Jan. 2 Castro dropped out of presidential race.
Dec. 19 Patrick's campaign relayed his openness to a carbon pricing mechanism.
Dec. 11 Added Bloomberg and Patrick.
Dec. 3 Harris dropped out of presidential race.
Dec. 2 Bullock dropped out of presidential race.
Dec. 1 Sestak dropped out of presidential race.
Nov. 20 Warren's campaign confirmed that she supports phasing out nuclear power.
Nov. 16 Adjusted Sanders's position on a carbon tax, from 'Open to it' to 'No' following a change from his campaign.
Nov. 1 O'Rourke dropped out of presidential race
Oct. 27 Added responses from Steyer, including his stance of no new nuclear power plants at this time and a ban on all fracking, though “that can’t happen instantly.”
Oct. 24 Ryan dropped out of presidential race.
Oct. 21 Removing Messam, who reported no spending in Q3 of 2019.
Sept. 20 De Blasio dropped out of presidential race.
Sept. 10 Added positions for Steyer based on his climate plan, as well as quotes for several candidates on the fracking ban question.
Sept. 5 Adjusted Biden view on fracking following confirmation of his stance from the campaign.
Sept. 5 Included many stances and quotes from 10 candidates who participated in CNN’s climate town hall event.
Sept. 4 Adjusted Warren's position on fracking after a clarification from her campaign.
Sept. 4 Additional information added from the climate plans of several candidates, including many that include specific U.S. emissions targets. Moved Castro out of 'Unclear' to better characterize his position on fracking.
Sept. 3 Added Klobuchar's position on fossil fuel leasing on federal lands after she released a climate plan.
Aug. 28 Gillibrand dropped out of presidential race.
Aug. 23 Moulton dropped out of presidential race.
Aug. 22 Inslee dropped out of presidential race.
Aug. 19 Updated several positions for Castro based on a response from his campaign.
Aug. 15 Hickenlooper dropped out of presidential race.
Aug. 2 Added Booker quote on the Paris climate agreement, Biden quote on fracking.
July 30 Additional information on Gillibrand's support for a carbon tax. Added Sestak.
July 15 Updated categories on the fracking ban question after addition correspondence with several campaigns to clarify their stances.
July 8 Swalwell dropped out of presidential race.
June 25 Updated Inslee’s position on carbon pricing from “open to it” to “yes” after he released a policy proposal.
June 21 Updated Gabbard’s position on carbon pricing from “open to it” to “no” based on a response from her campaign.
June 21 Added Warren’s position on carbon pricing based on a response from her campaign.
June 20 Updated O’Rourke’s position on fracking from “don’t ban it, but regulate it better” to “ban it” and Hickenlooper’s position on fracking from “don’t ban it” to “don’t ban it, but regulate it better” based on response from the campaigns. Added positions for Hickenlooper and Yang on several issues based on responses from the campaigns.
June 13 Adjusted Hickenlooper's position on carbon pricing after he released his climate plan.
June 5 Adjusted O'Rourke position on the Green New Deal and added his specific U.S. target in the Paris agreement question, following campaign guidance.
June 4 Added Biden positions to several questions after he released his climate plan and his campaign confirmed his stances.
June 3 Moved Gabbard position on campaign carbon footprint and Harris stance on Paris agreement following additional campaign guidance.
June 3 Updated campaign carbon footprint question with additional categories to reflect variety of answers. Also added Harris answers on fossil fuel subsidies and leasing on public lands after her campaign indicated her co-sponsorship of relevant legislation.
June 3 Adjusted Sanders answer on the Paris agreement after clarification from his campaign.
June 3 Updated Bennet’s details on the Green New Deal and fracking based on more information from his campaign.
June 1 Adjusted Buttigieg's position on fracking given additional information from his campaign.
June 1 Adjusted Gabbard’s answers on the Green New Deal and the Paris climate agreement to reflect a clarification from her campaign and a specific pledge.
May 31 Page published.