climate change

Would you support setting a price on carbon, such as with a carbon tax or cap-and-trade?

Yes

Yes, supports

Joe Biden

Former vice president

Biden supports a price on carbon, a campaign spokesman told The Post.

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Joe Biden
Biden

Cory Booker

U.S. senator, New Jersey

“[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.”

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Cory Booker
Booker

Pete Buttigieg

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. ”

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Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Julian Castro

Former mayor, San Antonio

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.

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Julian Castro
Castro

John Delaney

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

“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.”

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John Delaney
Delaney

Amy Klobuchar

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.”

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Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Tom Steyer

Billionaire activist

“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.

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Tom Steyer
Steyer

Marianne Williamson

Author

“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.

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Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Andrew Yang

Tech entrepreneur

“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.”

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Andrew Yang
Yang

Steve Bullock (Dropped out)

Governor, Montana

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.

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Steve Bullock
Bullock

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.

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Bill de Blasio
de Blasio

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.”

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Kirsten Gillibrand
Gillibrand

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.”

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Kamala Harris
Harris

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.

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John Hickenlooper
Hickenlooper

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.

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Jay Inslee
Inslee

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.”

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Seth Moulton
Moulton

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.

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Joe Sestak
Sestak

Open to it

Open to it

Michael Bennet

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.

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Michael Bennet
Bennet

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

Warren is open to setting a price on carbon, her campaign told The Post.

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Elizabeth Warren
Warren

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.”

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Tim Ryan
Ryan

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.”

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Eric Swalwell
Swalwell

No

No, opposes

Tulsi Gabbard

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.

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Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Bernie Sanders

U.S. senator, Vermont

Sanders's campaign told The Post in May 2019 that he was open to a carbon tax, but said in November that he is opposed to it. “While [Sanders] has, in the past, introduced federal carbon pricing legislation in the Senate, the IPCC report makes clear that our window for action is closing,” a campaign spokesman said in May. “So, if we are to solve the issue of climate change, 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.”

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Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Unclear/No response

Unclear/No response

Mike Bloomberg

Former New York mayor

Bloomberg did not answer this question by publication.

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Mike Bloomberg
Bloomberg

Deval Patrick

Former governor, Massachusetts

Patrick has said that a cap-and-trade system is not enough of a strategy. His campaign did not clarify his position by publication.

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Deval Patrick
Patrick

Beto O'Rourke (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Texas

O'Rourke is no longer running for president. “We should certainly price carbon. I think the best possible path to do that is through a cap and trade system. There would be allowances granted or sold to polluters, not just in the energy sector but in transportation as well as our industrial sector — cement, steel, the chemicals that we produce,” O’Rourke said at a CNN climate town hall. “There would be a set number of allowances that would decrease every single year.” O’Rourke “will work with Congress to enact a legally enforceable standard — within his first 100 days,” a campaign spokesman told The Post. “This standard will send a clear price signal to the market to change the incentives for how we produce, consume, and invest in energy, while putting in place a mechanism that will ensure the environmental and socio-economic integrity of this endeavor — providing us with the confidence that we are moving at least as quickly as we need in order to meet a 2050 deadline.” The campaign had not clarified his position by publication.

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Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke

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Background Through a price on carbon, polluters would pay for the carbon emissions released into the air. Policies to price carbon include direct taxes on emissions and cap-and-trade markets, where polluters purchase credits for emissions. Many economists view this strategy as a cost-effective way for countries to reduce emissions, although it would increase energy prices for consumers, with poorer households being disproportionately affected. Only about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions faced a carbon price in 2017, according to a study by the World Bank.

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.

The page will update to reflect candidates’ positions as they become more clear. We expect candidates to develop more detailed policy positions throughout the campaign, and this page will update as we learn more about their plans. We will also note if candidates change their position on an issue.

At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president or an exploratory committee by June 1. Wayne Messam, mayor of Miramar, Fla., reported $0 in spending during the 3rd quarter of 2019. As a result, he is no longer considered a "major candidate" in the Post's 2020 coverage and has been removed from this project.