Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
November 29, 2020

Where do the presidential candidates stand on climate change?

By TANVI NARVEKAR | October 24, 2020

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CC 3.0 BY MARTIN FALBISONER


Tanvi Narvekar examines the different plans the presidential candidates have to deal with climate change.

With the election coming up quick, I thought I would give a quick overview of the plans and the positions that each of the candidates take on climate change. Although there are so many important issues that must be considered, as a part of this column, I will look at the positions on climate change. A year ago, I wrote about how the government’s role in regulation for prevention of climate change is important.

Let’s look at President Donald Trump’s position and his policies, or lack thereof, on climate change. Throughout his past term he has shown his lack of concern for climate change. He has even doubted the science behind climate change. Unfortunately, during his term as president, he cut down and reversed many of the regulations that former President Barack Obama had put during his term. In addition to that, he advocated and pushed for policies that would further climate change.

Let’s list out some of the things Trump has done to make his position on climate change clear:

He doesn’t believe in climate change or the science behind it. 

  • When addressing the California fires, Trump talked to a reporter about climate change and denied the science behind it, saying, “I don’t think science knows.”
  • He rejected the findings in the National Climate Agreement, which summarizes the effects of climate change and included data from many studies.

He withdrew from Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan and deviated away from trying to incorporate clean energy.

He cut Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding by a third.

  • The Trump administration has also ordered the EPA to stop collecting data from oil and gas companies. This data was useful in figuring out how companies contribute to polluting the environment.

He supports fossil fuel development. 

  • Increased fossil fuel development would lead to increased air pollution. 

He pushed for the building of new oil pipelines like the Dakota Access Pipeline.

  • Oil pipelines are bad for the environment because of their leakage. According to Greenpeace, around 34 million gallons of oil have been spilled over the past decade. These oil spills cause the destruction of land and contamination of major waterways.

It’s also important to mention that while I was doing my research, I tried to find Trump’s plan on climate change or anything in that realm. Not to my surprise, I found that he has no plan or official statement on climate change.

Contrasting basically all of this is former Vice President Joe Biden’s position and actions about climate change. Biden has made his position on climate change clear: He wants to help combat it. As a part of the Obama administration, he helped with the establishment of certain policies that helped counteract climate change. He has made it clear that he does believe in the science behind climate change.

Let’s list out some of the things Biden has done and plans to do that has made this position clear: 

He made a plan about climate change for his presidential platform.

  • Biden makes several promises in this plan. He promises that by 2050, the U.S. will have a 100% clean energy economy with no net emissions. He also supports major reform that would lead to major sectors of life, including transportation, agriculture and housing, reducing their carbon footprint.
  • Another part of his plan is to hold companies accountable for their effects on the environment.

He also has plans to bring environmental justice.

  • In an article that I wrote this summer, I discussed how environmental racism can be difficult on communities of color who are affected by the state of the environment around them. Biden has included the goal of environmental justice in his plan: He plans on making an investment towards this. In his plan he acknowledges how big fossil fuel companies harm the environment in ways that disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income communities. He says that his administration will take action against this.

He worked on the Recovery Act during Obama’s term.

  • This Recovery Act, signed in 2009, put around $73 billion into creating clean energy generation, developing energy efficiency programs, improving transit and other smaller projects. Around a decade after the Recovery Act was established, production of energy through coal has dropped to being 23% of all energy production, while clean energy production has risen. For example, solar and wind energy contributes to 9% of energy production.

He believes in science.

Overall, it is clear that Biden not only cares about climate change and its effects on the environment, but he also believes in it. For Trump to dismiss climate change and deny the science behind it is ignorant and pathetic. Climate change is not something you can ignore and hope that “it’ll start to get cooler” (which Trump actually said in regard to the rising temperatures this summer). We need a plan, something that Biden gives. Beyond just climate change, we also need a president who believes in science. The president, or anyone for that matter, doesn’t need to be a scientist, but they should believe in science. Please vote if you haven’t already. Every vote counts.

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