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A podcast about the different people, technologies, and organizations that are coming together to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reverse climate change. We also talk about blockchains.

#72 2020 Presidential candidates and their climate plans—with Zoya Teirstein

June 25, 2019


So many candidates, so little time! If you’re curious what some of the Democratic contenders for president are proposing when it comes to climate change, fasten your seatbelt. From plans to reach net zero emissions by 2045 to investments in direct air capture technology, the presidential hopefuls each have an ambitious climate platform. Who has the most aggressive approach? What are some of the more unique initiatives? And how achievable are the policy proposals currently on the table?

Zoya Teirstein is a climate reporter for Grist, an environment and climate change media platform based in Seattle. Her work has been featured in Mother Jones, Salon and The Verge, among many other publications. Today, Zoya joins Alexsandra and Ross to explain why climate change has become part of the cultural zeitgeist for the first time. She walks us through several of the presidential candidates’ climate plans, covering Biden’s shifting approach, Inslee’s comprehensive policy, and Warren’s initiative to green the military. 

Zoya also shares why an all-of-the-above approach is controversial, how feasible it would be to institute a carbon tax, and why there is a growing call for a separate climate debate.  Listen in for insight into where Bernie, Beto and Booker stand on climate change and learn what Mayor Pete, Michael Bennet and John Delaney are proposing in terms of climate policy.

Key Takeaways

[0:48] Zoya’s path to reversing climate change 

[2:16] Why climate change is in the cultural zeitgeist for the first time

  • Trump administration’s war on environment
  • Widespread youth movement frame as moral issue
  • AOC’s introduction of Green New Deal
  • Urgency in scientific reports (e.g.: IPCC)

[8:20] Joe Biden’s shifting approach to climate change

  • Widespread condemnation of ‘middle of the road’ policy
  • Shifted to net zero emissions by 2020, $5T climate plan

[12:39] Why an all-of-the-above approach is controversial

  • Includes coal and natural gas
  • Natural gas + fracking industry downplay methane emissions

[14:07] The growing call for a climate debate

  • Touches all other issues
  • Endorsed by 14 candidates

[19:53] Jay Inslee’s comprehensive climate policy

  • WA just passed suite of clean energy bills
  • Running as climate candidate ($9T plan)
  • Includes international component

[24:33] Elizabeth Warren’s approach to climate change

  • No drilling on public lands
  • Green the military (one of biggest emitters)
  • Invest in low carbon tech + push out to world
  • Put Americans to work in green economy

[29:29] Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke’s climate plans

  • Sanders yet to release policy (long history as climate hawk)
  • O’Rourke promise net zero emissions by 2050

[31:42] Cory Booker’s Environmental Justice Plan 

  • Pro nuclear energy, boost to EPA
  • Pay for pollution policy with companies

[32:52] Pete Buttigieg's approach to climate change

[34:09] Michael Bennet’s climate plan

  • Centrist candidate
  • Farming-centric package

[35:29] John Delaney’s plan for climate change

  • Introduce price on carbon
  • Invest in direct air capture technology
  • Fund by ending fossil fuel subsidies

[40:28] Zoya’s insight on the feasibility of a carbon tax

  • Delaney’s plan = revenue neutral
  • Eliminates 90% of emissions by 2050

[44:44] Bill Weld’s position on climate change

  • Challenge Trump from inside Republican party
  • Middle of the road, transition away from fossil fuels

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Carbon Removal Newsroom



Zoya on Grist

Zoya on Twitter

“How Climate Change Worsened Violence in Syria” in Grist 

Green New Deal

IPCC 2018 Report on Climate Change

2018 National Climate Assessment

“We Broke Down What Climate Change Will Do, Region by Region” in Grist

Diamond Joe Biden in The Onion

“Presidential Hopeful Biden Looking for ‘Middle Ground’ Climate Policy” in Reuters

Sunrise Movement

Joe Biden’s Climate Plan 

Todd Tanner’s Conservation Hawks

Washington Initiative 1631

Jay Inslee’s Climate Plan

Paris Agreement

Elizabeth Warren’s Plan to Green the Military

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell

“How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is Being Built” in Grist

Justice Democrats

Oil Change USA

No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge

Cory Booker’s Environmental Justice Plan

Nathaneal Johnson on Grist

“Mayor Pete: 2020’s Stealth Climate Candidate” in Grist

Pete Buttigieg’s Climate Policy

Michael Bennet’s Climate Policy

John Delaney’s Plan for Climate Change

Andrew Yang on Carbon Removal Newsroom

The Daily Podcast

Chernobyl on HBO

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