Clean energy and climate change have received unprecedented levels of attention in the 2020 U.S. presidential contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The candidates hold strikingly oppositional views on decarbonizing the economy and leading global partnerships to combat climate change. The differences between the two candidates on these matters have been on stark display throughout this year's campaign, from last month's presidential debates to Trump's last-minute push to highlight fracking as a campaign issue in the contested state of Pennsylvania.
The stakes of this election's outcome are high. To combat what he's called an "existential threat to humanity" from climate change, Biden has pledged to rejoin the Paris Agreement, commit the country to decarbonizing electricity generation by 2035, and issue a series of executive orders that would surpass the climate ambition of the Obama-Biden administration. Trump, who has questioned the reality of climate change caused by human activity, has committed his administration to deregulating industries and rolling back energy efficiency and automotive fuel economy standards to increase economic competitiveness, as well as expanding the roles of the coal, oil and gas industries in the country's energy future.
To help you make sense of what's at stake, we’ve compiled Greentech Media’s essential coverage of the 2020 election and its consequences for clean energy.
If you read one piece on clean energy and the election, make it this one. Insights from GTM writers explain how the outcome of the election could impact solar, energy storage, utilities and wind.
How could Joe Biden, if elected, pursue the climate and clean energy policies his campaign has laid out? Policy experts discuss the executive actions and congressional policies that are most likely to gain traction in the first 100 days of a Biden presidency.
In July, the Biden campaign laid out a $2 trillion plan designed to encourage clean energy deployment and accelerate the energy transition. The plan built on a climate platform released earlier that month and developed by a “unity task force” of supporters of both Biden and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, a key rival for the Democratic Party nomination, and was geared to unite the progressive and moderate wings of the party on climate policy.
A co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution (which the Biden campaign has not officially and entirely endorsed), U.S. Senator and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris framed the environmental policies of her presidential bid around environmental justice. She’s to the left of Biden on some environmental issues but matches him as a moderate in other respects. In response to her selection to fill out the Democratic ticket, environmental activists noted Harris' willingness to listen to feedback.
Even if Biden wins, his administration faces a difficult path to pass significant clean-energy or climate-focused legislation in Congress. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse shared the stage in an October event to discuss areas where bipartisan consensus may exist on energy policy.
When it comes to the climate crisis, this election has extreme consequences. An analysis from Wood Mackenzie lays out the incredibly high stakes. “If Biden’s bid fails, the U.S. will forfeit four more years in the fight against climate change. This would dramatically reduce the possibility of eliminating carbon emissions from the region’s power grid before 2050,” writes Dan Shreve, WoodMac’s research director, in the report.
On most policies related to clean energy, Joe Biden and Donald Trump are leagues apart. But under a potential Biden administration, solar tariffs could “still be on the table.” GTM examines the likelihood that this divisive policy sticks around post-2020 if Democrats win the White House.
Are you in the mood to listen rather than read? Greentech Media’s podcasts may relieve you from endlessly scrolling through news and refreshing your browser for election returns.
The hosts of The Energy Gang recap the role of energy and climate in the 2020 election. The episode also highlights important down-ballot races to watch.
Th hosts of Political Climate, along with Josh Freed, founder of Third Way’s Climate and Energy Program, outline the policies that could take root in a Biden administration and how those contrast with what a continuation of the Trump presidency may look like.
Joe Biden has pitched the most ambitious climate plans of any presidential candidate to date. Political Climate talks to two groups, Vote Climate U.S. PAC and Climate Cabinet Action Fund, that are pushing for more aggressive climate policies from candidates at the state level as well as those running for Congress.
John Podesta worked in Bill Clinton’s White House, led Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and founded think tank the Center for American Progress. The long-time Democratic strategist lays out his thoughts on how a hypothetical Biden administration should approach climate policy and what it could accomplish in its first 100 days.
Political Climate digs into Biden’s $2 trillion clean energy plan, which includes a nationwide clean electricity standard and investments in research, development and federal procurement.