These 4 toss-up Senate races might determine the fate of the planet

by Shannon Osaka, Grist


There are 35 Senate seats being voted on this November, with Maine, North Carolina, Iowa, and Montana being deciding factors on whether a new administration could pass effective climate legislation.

Iowa – Joni Ernst (R) vs. Theresa Greenfield (D) 

  • Joni Ernst previously received funding from Charles and the late David Koch and is anti- Green New Deal
  • Theresa Greenfield argues that the country needs to take “urgent climate action” and wants the state to have the first net-zero farm industry in the world
  • Greenfield is currently leading Ernst, 47% to 43%

Montana – Steve Daines (R) vs. Steve Bullock (D) 

  • Governor Steve Bullock commissioned the Climate Solutions Plan, expanding energy efficiency and boosting renewables across the state but still supports fracking
  • Senator Steve Daines, the Republican incumbent, is not a proponent of a carbon tax and believes it to be a job killer
  • Bullock tied with Daines at 48%

Maine – Susan Collins (R) vs. Sara Gideon (D) 

  • Senator Susan Collins is a moderate Republican who has supported some climate legislation in the past but has now received 21% on the League of Conservation Voters scorecard
  • Sara Gideon has put several landmark climate bills through the state legislature, including one that requires the state to get all of its electricity from renewable energy by 2050
  • Gideon has a one point lead over Collins

North Carolina – Thom Tillis (R) vs. Cal Cunningham (D) 

  • Cal Cunningham opposes the Green New Deal but wants more renewable energy and believes the U.S. should rejoin the Paris climate agreement
  • Thom Tillis has revoked his stance against human-caused climate change but still refuses to support the Paris agreement and believes market-based solutions will solve the crisis
  • Cunningham is polling ahead of Tillis, 37% to 41%

This upcoming election will determine how many climate champions will be in office to pass important environmental and climate legislation. See resources on how to vote for the climate and how to vote early in this 2020 presidential election. 

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Three-quarters of Americans want to know more about presidential candidates’ plans to tackle global warming: poll

by Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone


  • New data compiled by Yale University shows that an average of 76% of US adults expressed interest in news stories about the climate plans from the Trump Administration and Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden 
  • In California, 80% of people expressed interest in the candidates’ climate plans as the state experiences more frequent and massive wildfires due to the climate crisis
  • Neighboring states Oregon and Washington saw 79% of people interested in the climate plans
  • A separate study by the Pew Research Center found that 60% of Americans find climate change a major threat to the country, an increase from 44% in the last decade
  • Democrats express more concern about climate change compared to Republicans
  • Politicians in the Republican party claim the climate crisis will be best solved by the market and tech solutions while also claiming that climate change should not be the country’s top priority 

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.

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Vote like the future of humanity depends on it — because it does

by Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone


  • The US withdrawal of the Paris Agreement will be finalized on November 4th, one day after the presidential election 
  • Climate change is a top-tier issue for Americans, particularly youth who consider this one of the most important issues of their time, as climate impacts intersect with race, equity, and justice 
  • The world has warmed 1 degree C and has resulted in the melting of arctic ice, drought, and extended wildfire seasons and may rise more than 3 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels due to lack of fast climate action
  • New studies show that the United States could cut its current power sector emissions 80% by 2035 and create 20 million jobs along the way
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden and Califonia Senator Kamala Harris have the best climate policies on a presidential ticket ever
  • Another four years of a Trump presidency will guarantee more anti-environment legislation that will put the Earth on the fast track to rising temperatures

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change. Make sure to vote for candidates who care about stopping the climate crisis. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.

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Kamala Harris’ Plan For International Climate Cooperation Could Smooth the Transition From Fossil Fuels

by Aimee Barnes, State of the Planet


  • Senator Kamala Harris’ “Climate Plan for the People” platform during her Presidential campaign highlighted the creation of an international coalition to manage the transition away from fossil fuel production
  • In order to reach the best-case climate scenario as proposed by the Paris Agreement, the world will need to adapt a rapid phaseout of net global carbon dioxide emissions and deep reductions greenhouse gases
  • The GHG emissions contained in present estimates of global fossil fuel reserves equal three times the “carbon budget” and burning these reserves could add up to 2,900 Gt of CO2 to the atmosphere
    •  a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves, and over 80 percent of current coal reserves globally would need to remain unused from 2010 to 2050 even to meet the less ambitious 2°C target.
  • Many countries around the globe have implemented limits on supplying fossil fuels by banning drilling and oil reserve exploration
  • Canada, Norway, and Spain are some of the countries working towards a just transition of labor for their fossil fuel workers
  • Tackling a managed decline and just transition as a global collective has the potential to be more impactful on managing economic impacts of the transition away from fossil fuels
  • Harris’ climate plan proposed convening major emitters in early 2021, focusing on climate change, the global economy, and a worldwide phase out of fossil fuels
  • Potential declarations and commitments from the plan could be: planning for work force transitions, accelerating away from the fossil fuel economy, the requirement need to reach a 1.5 degree C scenario

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.

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Harris and Ocasio-Cortez team up on a Climate ‘Equity’ Bill

by Ilana Cohen, Inside Climate News


  • California Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez unveiled an updated version of their Climate Equity Act that was initially released a year ago as Senator Harris was running for the Democratic Presidential nomination
  • The Climate Equity Act would:
    • Create an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability 
    • Require the government to consider the impact of any environmental legislation or regulation on low-income communities by using an equity score created by climate experts and community leaders to assess the equity impacts of new legislation
    • Redirect capital to marginalized communities of color by increasing the diversity of recipients of federal grants and loans in order to make these opportunities more accessible
  • Representative Ocasio-Cortez explains that diversity is needed while creating new policies:

For too long, policies that affect communities of color have been determined by a few white men in a room in Washington… I’m proud to partner with Senator Harris on a bill that will pave the way for a new, inclusionary way of doing things in D.C.”

Senator Kamala Harris is Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s pick for Vice President. Centering equitable climate legislation and policies for California’s frontline communities is one of The Climate Center’s guiding principles

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Congressional climate strategy includes microgrids and climate justice

Last week, Democrats on the US House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis issued a report, “Solving the Climate Crisis, “ which provides an emissions reduction policy framework which seeks to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Here’s a link to a summary article from Vox about the report. 

One of the recommendations in the report is to “Invest in disproportionately exposed communities to cut pollution and advance environmental justice.” This matches Climate Center policy priorities related to climate justice as noted in a recent letter sent by The Climate Center and Partners to the Steyer Committee (here’s a link to a summary article from Microgrid Knowledge).  One of the principles of The Climate Center-backed Community Energy Resilience Act, SB 1314, was the prioritization of state support for low-income and disadvantaged communities.

The new report also spotlights microgrid development as a key resilience strategy, particularly for critical infrastructure — similar to recommendations from The Climate Center’s Community Energy Resilience program and associated media efforts.

Microgrid-related recommendations in the new congressional report include the following:

  • Establishing a new program at the Departments of Health and Human Services to support pre-disaster hospital and health facility resilience projects, including retrofits and maintenance to reduce flood and wildfire risk, harden facilities against extreme weather, and integrate redundant water and power supplies, including microgrids and community renewable energy grids;
  • Directing the Department of Energy to create a grant, technical assistance, and demonstration programs for microgrids, especially in isolated areas and vulnerable communities;
  • Providing technical assistance and funding through the US Department of Agriculture to deploy resilient renewable energy and microgrid systems;
  • Creating a new program within the Department of Transportation to assess and deploy resilient solutions for public transit electrification, including advanced microgrids.

To learn more community energy resilience policy, register here for The Climate Center’s August 5th Community Energy Resilience Policy Summit.

The plan meant to unite Biden and Bernie voters on climate is here

by Emily Pontecorvo, Grist


  • After Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination, he joined forces with Former Vice President Joe Biden to create a climate task force
  • Other members of the task force included Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash, and Catherine Flowers, the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, Secretary of State John Kerry, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy, and former Biden policy advisor Kerry Duggan
  • The platform focuses on environmental justice, eliminating pollution, creating union jobs in clean energy, and other policies reminiscent of the Green New Deal
  • Varshini Prakash helped shape the platform by changing the target dates form 2050 to 2035 and introduced benchmarks such as electrifying school buses, retrofitting buildings, and increased energy efficiency within the first 5 years of Biden’s presidency
  • The task force also incorporated a “Tribal Needs Assessment” to support more than 500 tribes in the energy transition

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.

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House Democrats’ climate plan is ambitious, but is it enough?

On Tuesday House Democrats unveiled a package of more than 120 pieces of legislation that seek to drive a transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and the plan ties climate action to racial justice. Some pundits are saying that the plan shows just how far progressives have pushed the climate conversation. Vox reporter David Roberts called it, “The most detailed and well-thought-out plan for addressing climate change that has ever been a part of US politics.”

The plan is very similar to the Green New Deal, but lacks a ban on fracking and other rapid fossil fuel phase-out measures that will be required to avoid already looming climate catastrophe.

The plan comes just as Ohio University has released a study revealing that the South Pole has been warming at more than three times the global average over the past 30 years. For climate scientists, the alarm bells are ringing on global tippings points that are beginning to unleash potentially irreversible damage.

The 547-page report calls for setting a price on carbon dioxide pollution, eliminating pollution from cars by 2035 and from power plants by 2040, and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The roadmap draws on information gathered in more than 100 hearings by Castor’s panel and other House committees. The plan also calls for massive jobs programs, investments in infrastructure, and tax credits to encourage more manufacturing of clean energy components domestically.

The plan is ambitious, and hopefully this agenda will also soon include a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels that is more in line with the current climate reality and the need for net-negative emissions by 2030

California can help by setting our own targets in line with the latest science. Our Climate-Safe California platform outlines these targets and the bold policies needed to meet them. Endorse it today.

DNC climate group calls for larger federal investment on climate than Biden’s current plan

by Rachel Frazin, The Hill


  • The Democratic National Committee Climate Council released a set of policy recommendations for a greater investment than Joe Biden’s climate plan
  • Joe Biden’s climate plan would spend $1.7 trillion over the next decade to address climate change, whereas the Climate Council plan endorses spending $10-16 trillion over the same period
  • Michelle Deatrick, leader of the Climate Council, emphasizes that this plan would be the boldest policy the party has adopted:

“These policies center environmental justice for frontline and vulnerable communities, urgent climate action, and worker empowerment… If adopted, these platform recommendations would be the most ambitious policies addressing the climate crisis ever adopted by the Democratic Party.”

  • Biden’s plan calls for reaching a 100% clean energy economy and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050  and halving the carbon footprints of buildings by 2035
  • The Climate Council calls for almost-zero emissions by 2040, banning crude oil exports, denying permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure, a permanent ban on fracking, and 100% renewable energy in electricity generation, buildings, and transportation by 2030

The Climate Center works toward electrifying buildings and vehicles using 100% clean energy sources such as solar and wind to eliminate fossil fuel-based emissions. 

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Democrats united behind a climate policy plan, but the timeline is based on old science

by David Roberts, Vox


  • Broad alignment amongst the Democratic party on climate policy may help the left unite and fight the climate crisis 
  • Working on policy platform with the input of people from different backgrounds, identities, and environmental experiences helped built trust
  • The long list of Democratic presidential hopefuls had a much more expanded vision on climate by the end of their campaigns than when they started
  • The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that called for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 has become the baseline for US climate policy
  • Republican leaders have been vocal on their aversion to climate policy and have refused to help establish nationwide climate goals and legislation
  • Since Democrats must work on their own for climate policy, it is imperative that the party is united on the climate crisis issue
  • Clean energy, a just transition of labor, environmental justice, and clean transportation are important goals for the Dems to reach within new policies
  • Additional goals that many on the left agree upon include: limiting new oil wells, holding fossil fuel companies accountable
    • However, carbon pricing, carbon capture and sequestration, and nuclear energy are still divisive 

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean electricity a major step towards achieving the Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform.

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