Presidential candidates 2020- climate and environmental rankings

Below are some resources highlighting how the presidential candidates rank on climate action and other environmental issues.


Greenpeace tells you the stance of the candidates on climate-related issues and also provides a platform where you can contact the candidates to tell them that you care about climate action.


National Resource Defense Council

On this website, each candidate’s profile is organized into four categories:

  1. Climate plans released by candidates (if any);
  2. Overview of how the candidate’s website talks about climate change;
  3. Public statements by the candidate on climate change; and
  4. Candidate’s history on climate action.


The Center for Biological Diversity

The Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund evaluated each candidate on four key environmental issue areas: saving wildlife, protecting public lands, ensuring environmental justice and ending the climate crisis.


Vote Climate U.S. PAC

In 2018, Vote Climate U.S. PAC developed a national, climate change Voter’s Guide, giving every incumbent and challenger for a seat in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate a “Climate Calculation”– a score for voters to take to the polls in November. Their Climate Calculations range from Climate Hero to Climate Zero and include incumbents and challengers. Vote Climate U.S. PAC identifies incumbents and challengers for top priority support, with the goal of increasing support in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to pass a federal carbon fee. 



The toxic legacy of old oil wells: California’s multibillion-dollar problem

by Mark Olalde and Ryan Menezes, LA Times


  • 35,000 wells have been sitting idle for years because of suspended production, which can contaminate the water supplies and cause fumes to leak
  • Fossil fuel companies are required by law to set aside bonds for the clean up and remediation of oil well sites but the bonds might not hold enough funds to cover the expected billions of dollars needed for clean up
  • Until wells are unplugged and dismantled they can emit toxic chemicals and flammable gasses into the pipes that connect to homes.
  • More people of color and of low-income status live near an oil well, increasing their exposure to harmful emissions

See more news on the fossil fuel industry and social justice.

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Destiny Rodriguez with Jim Grant from the Catholic Diocese of Fresno's Social Justice Channel.

Peace, social justice, and a new energy system

During the holidays, the word “peace” is thrown around a lot. It’s usually used to describe a state of being that may feel elusive in a world being swallowed by climate change. For me, peace directly relates to working for social justice. This became especially clear to me in a recent interview with Jim Grant, the Director of Social Justice Ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Fresno. 

Jim hosts a local YouTube and podcast show in the Central Valley where he invites guests to come and speak on various issues related to social justice. Jim’s audience draws a wide spectrum of Central Valley viewership, not just Catholics. Jim asked me to come on his program after he saw me interviewed on ABC 30 with Graciela Moreno on the “Latino Life Show” in a 6-minute segment on Community Choice Energy.

Prior to our meeting, Jim had never heard of Community Choice Energy, and to him, it almost sounded too good to be true. Before and during his show, we discussed all the ways in which Community Choice Energy supports social justice– from putting control over the local energy system into the hands of the People to transitioning away from a fossil fuel-powered energy system that has poisoned the air and water and destabilized the climate. We discussed the potential for Community Choice Energy to help the region achieve rapid decarbonization while helping to build a vibrant green collar economy. And we discussed how such a transition will better the lives of people in our community, alleviating the suffering of low-income residents who are most affected by pollution. 

So long as we are complacent with an energy system that is a plague to our most vulnerable people, how will we ever find peace? I don’t believe we can.  If we want real peace, we must imagine a new way forward that serves social justice, We will have to work hard building the political will to achieve it together.

Jim has a very inspirational quote from Blessed Paul VI that he uses in his daily life: “If you want peace, work for justice.” 

I plan to do just that.

How climate change threatens the criminal justice system

by Molly Taft, EcoWatch

It was long predicted that Houston was unprepared for a hurricane like Harvey, yet the storm caught the city off-guard when it landed a year and a half ago.

Harvey dawdled over the region for a week after making landfall, dumping up to five feet of rain on some areas. One study estimates that climate change increased rainfall by as much as 38 percent, and the city’s flood barriers did little to mitigate the catastrophic damage. Beyond the $125 billion in physical damage the storm caused to the region, it also bogged down the city’s criminal justice system, making the city’s courts and jails more inefficient, and with serious consequences.

The Harris County Criminal Justice Center, which sits a block away from the Buffalo Bayou, acts as a central nervous system for criminal justice proceedings in the country’s third-largest county. Harvey hit the courthouse with a one-two punch, as four feet of floodwater damaged the lower levels and increased water pressure burst pipes on higher floors.

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President Joko Widodo

Indonesia’s capital to relocate due to sea level rise and over-extraction of groundwater

by Tabita Diela, Reuters

Indonesia’s plan to move its capital off the main island of Java will require investment of about $20 billion to $30 billion, a minister said on Tuesday, even though the government has yet to decide on a new location.

President Joko Widodo on Monday approved a plan to relocate government offices away from Jakarta less than two weeks after private pollsters indicated he had won an April 17 presidential election.

Jakarta is home to more than 10 million people, but around three times that many live in the surrounding towns, adding to severe traffic congestion that the government estimated costs $7 billion in economic losses each year.

Bambang Brodjonegoro, Widodo’s planning minister, said the government will design a new capital to house 900,000 to 1.5 million people, mostly government employees and their families.

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Dakota Access company bought up dozens of anti-pipeline URLs

by Chris D’Angelo, Grist

Texas-based pipeline giant Energy Transfer Partners went on a website-buying spree after months of fierce public protest over its Dakota Access Pipeline, nabbing dozens of URLs it expected pipeline opponents might use to target the company’s other projects.

The damage-control effort is related to several ongoing operations, including the company’s $4.2 billion Rover natural gas pipeline in Ohio, the $670 million Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana, and the Trans-Pecos and Comanche Trail pipelines in West Texas.

Energy Transfer Partners purchased at least 102 anti-pipeline websites between January and June 2017, according to a list compiled by the nonprofit Climate Investigations Center and shared with HuffPost.

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Last stand in the swamp: Activists fight final stretch of Dakota pipeline

by Lauren Zanolli, The Guardian

As the flat-bottom fishing boat speeds through waterways deep inside Louisiana’s Atchafalaya basin, the largest river swamp in the US, the landscape suddenly shifts from high banks of sediment and oil pipeline markers on either side to an open grove of cypress trees towering above the water. Flocks of white ibis appear, seemingly out of nowhere, to nest and hunt amid the moss-dripped, century-old wetland forest.

“This is what the entire basin is supposed to look like,” explained Jody Meche, president of a local crawfishermen alliance and a lifelong resident with a thick Cajun accent.

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Tribe says Army Corps stonewalling on Dakota Access Pipeline report, oil spill risk

by Phil Mckenna, InsideClimate News

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is defending its claim that the Dakota Access pipeline has no significant environmental impact, but it issued only a brief summary of its court-ordered reassessment while keeping the full analysis confidential.

The delay in releasing the full report, including crucial details about potential oil spills, has incensed the Standing Rock Tribe, whose reservation sits a half-mile downstream from where the pipeline crosses the Missouri River.

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‘We will be waiting’: Tribe says Keystone XL construction is not welcome

by Phil Mckenna, InsideClimate News

The company building the long-contested Keystone XL oil pipeline notified the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in a letter this week that it will start stockpiling equipment along the pipeline’s route this month in preparation for construction.

Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier sent back a sharp, one-line response: “We will be waiting.”
The Cheyenne River tribe has opposed the Keystone pipeline since it was first proposed in 2008, and it has seen how pipeline protests can play out.

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The surprising link between climate change and human trafficking

by Wudan Yan, The Revelator

The impacts of climate change could soon become big business for human traffickers, a new paper warns.

The rise in forced labor, sexual exploitation and other types of trafficking would be driven by many of the effects of climate change that are already well known and widely documented. Greenhouse gas emissions are making our oceans more acidic and destroying coral reefs, affecting communities’ access to fish and other food. Rising temperatures are causing the glaciers to shrink and contribute to sea-level rise, pushing people away from their homes. And intense heat waves and droughts are drastically impacting the livelihoods of farmers who depend on agriculture for their survival.

Collectively, these climate impacts have already started causing an increase in human migration, making people more vulnerable to trafficking, says the paper’s author, Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Law at Columbia University. “There’s no question that climate change will make things worse,” he says.
Gerrard’s work builds upon previous research. One paper, published in 2010, predicted that there could be as many as 250 million “climate refugees” by 2050. Another study in 2016 warned that by the end of the century climate change would force one-eighth of the world’s population— as many as 1.4 billion people, largely from the tropics — to migrate more than 620 miles from their current homes. Some of these “climate migrants,” finding themselves desperate for security and work, could become victims of human trafficking, the paper says.

Gerrard started thinking about this subject after attending a conference on human trafficking in the Vatican City in 2016. At the time he had been working with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, one of the island nations most vulnerable to climate change, to address legal issues that would arise if an entire nation went underwater. In the Marshall Islands, there was already evidence that people were moving as a result of rising sea levels. Seeing this connection between migration and climate inspired Gerrard to look at the link between climate change and trafficking.

Climate change, he writes in the paper, can cause populations to move in many ways, although it’s difficult to isolate it as the sole cause of human migration. In many cases ethnic or religious conflict adds pressure on people to leave. Gerrard notes that extreme flooding, water shortages, and desertification are the factors most likely to galvanize people to move. Sea-level rise, too, will force a population to abandon their land when it starts to go underwater.

Among these people who move, those are the most poor and vulnerable could fall victim to human trafficking and become subject to sexual exploitation or forced labor. This already happens in many places around the world. Studies have shown that trafficking has increased in the aftermath of natural disasters such as cyclones, flooding, earthquakes and tsunamis — which are likely to become more intense due to the effects of climate change. These people are often the most powerless and do not have the ability to lobby for their own protection, and are “often in the back of the line for governmental attention,” says Gerrard.

And although countries where climate change is already causing displacement — such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines — may be aware of the issue, Gerrard says they may not have the resources to help those who are the most vulnerable.

“These countries are almost invariably extremely poor with few governmental resources, so awareness doesn’t necessarily lead to prevention,” he says.

I witnessed this vulnerability in Bangladesh while reporting on the Rohingya crisis in April. Since last August religious violence against the stateless, Muslim minority in Myanmar sent nearly a million Rohingya across the border to Bangladesh, where they are now seeking shelter. They live in flimsy makeshift homes constructed from bamboo and tarpaulin, situated on barren hills that used to be forest. Although monsoon season does not start until June, strong winds and intermittent heavy rain are already destroying homes and lives. Women and children are being trafficked into brothels; other refugees are fleeing to different countries in Southeast Asia.

Geoffrey Dabelko, a climate security expert at Ohio University, cautions against calling people affected by these crises “climate refugees.” “We want to resist the temptation for things ‘caused by climate change,’ because it removes the responsibility from the people who are actually doing the trafficking,” he says.

Dabelko adds that he feels Gerrard’s new paper is a good example of “thinking beyond the obvious for what climate change is going to mean. It has to be understood in the wider context of migration, human trafficking and movement of people in a warmer world.”

How can we protect these migrating peoples? Gerrard says he worries that international agreements and domestic laws might not be able to combat the scale of human trafficking as a result of climate change. “Unless there’s a corresponding dramatic rise in the governmental resources devoted to enforcement, we simply won’t have enough people carrying out the enforcement,” he says.

In order to mitigate the amount of trafficking that’s projected to increase as a result of global climate change, Gerrard says the world’s economies need to transition away from using fossil fuels, which will decrease greenhouse gas emissions and can make the impacts of climate change less severe. “That’s the single most important thing that could be done,” he says.

It’s also vital to improve the ability of vulnerable communities to stay in place so that they won’t be tempted or lured away by human traffickers. “If people have clean water and adequate food, they’re more likely to stay,” Gerrard says. Other adaptations can also help. For example, communities can build their homes on stilts in areas that have periodic flooding, making that those homes less likely to be destroyed.

Strengthening enforcement against traffickers could also mitigate the impacts. “Don’t go after the victims,” he says. “Go after the traffickers.”
Ultimately Gerrard believes that if world communities, leaders and international organizations act accordingly, the amount of suffering of those who are displaced due to climate change can be reduced. “This,” he writes in the paper, “should be viewed positively by everyone.”