Sunrise's Democratic Presidential Scorecard: Sanders A-, Warren B-, Biden F

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 10 Dec 2019 00:28:00 GMT

The youth climate activist group Sunrise Movement has published a 200-point climate leadership scorecard on the top three Democratic presidential candidates, with Bernie Sanders leading Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden far behind.

Sanders earned 91.5% of the possible points; Warren 82.5%; and Biden a strikingly low 37.5%.

The careful scoring process is broken into four sections: “How they talk about it,” “How much they talk about it,” “Plan to win,” and “Green New Deal vision.”

Sanders and Warren earned identical scores for “How they talk about it” and “Plan to win”- reflecting their similarity in rhetoric about the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for comprehensive action that directly confronts the fossil-fuel industry. Both campaigns have laid out comprehensive plans for action that are built around principles of climate justice.

However, Sanders has talked about climate change significantly more than Warren on the campaign trail and in the presidential debates—a difference reflected in the metric used by the Sunrise Movement, which is the frequency with which climate change is discussed on the campaign Twitter feeds.

The Green New Deal section was a 100-point analysis of the candidate’s climate plans, representing half of the full score. Sanders received an A (95 points) compared to Warren’s B (85 points) for his clear plan for a phase-out of fossil-fuel extraction and for more detailed and ambitious plans for sustainable agriculture, forestry, climate refugees, energy democracy, public infrastructure, renewable energy investment, and public transportation.

In all categories Biden lagged significantly.

Perhaps relatedly, the Biden campaign’s top climate staffer, Heather Zichal, is a former John Kerry and Barack Obama staffer who parlayed her years of service into highly lucrative positions in the natural gas industry.

When Biden has been confronted by climate activists at campaign stops, he has responded dismissively that he was involved in one of the first climate bills passed by Congress and if they’re still not happy, they should vote for someone else.

Biden, Warren Release Similar Climate Investment Plans

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 04 Jun 2019 20:01:00 GMT

Democratic presidential contenders Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have released climate plans. Warren’s plan appears somewhat more ambitious, whereas Biden’s plan explicitly endorses carbon-capture technology.

Some specific highlights from Biden:
  • “100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050”
  • “federal investment of $1.7 trillion over the next ten years”
  • “investing $400 billion over ten years” in “clean energy research and innovation”
  • including “double down on federal investments and enhance tax incentives for carbon capture, use and storage” and nuclear power research

The Biden plan also notes: “If the global temperature continues to increase at the current rate and surpasses 1.5°C, the existential threat to life will not be limited to just ecological systems, but will extend to human life as well.” However, the goals of the plan do not appear to be in line with the global emissions reductions needed to keep warming below 1.5°C.

In other newsmaking, it appears Joe Biden is accepting the aims of the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, if not yet having formally signed on: “Biden for President will not accept contributions from oil, gas and coal corporations or executives.”

Warren released her Green Manufacturing Plan, with highlights including:
  • ”$400 billion in funding over the next ten years for clean energy research and development”
  • ”$1.5 trillion federal procurement commitment over the next ten years”
  • ” a new federal office dedicated to selling American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy technology abroad and a $100 billion commitment to assisting countries to purchase and deploy this technology”
  • “we must cut projected global emissions by more than half by 2030”

The plans are surprisingly similar in terms of scope, especially in terms of the budget expenditures, and in many of the details. Warren’s plan calls for greater expenditure in federal procurement than Biden’s, and appears more ambitious in terms of emissions targets. Notably, Warren frequently refers to the Green New Deal, which she has endorsed, whereas Biden praises the Green New Deal’s “framework” but does not appear to follow its particulars closely.

Update: As first noticed by Credo Action’s Josh Nelson, the Biden plan cribbed some text directly from the labor-environmentalist group Blue Green Alliance and from the fossil-fuel-industry Carbon Capture Coalition. The Biden campaign has since directly credited those organizations, which appear to be advising the campaign.