Joe Biden: 2020 Election Profiles

How do the 2020 Democratic candidates plan to act on climate change? How do they compare on climate history? Kids Fight Climate Change analyzed each candidate. How does Joe Biden compare?


Biden was a senator for 36 years and during his career he introduced the first climate change bill to the Senate, the Global Climate Protection Act of 1986. While the Reagan Administration ignored it, it called for national policy on climate change and annual reports on it from the EPA to Congress.

In 2007, he supported higher fuel efficiency standards, a bill that passed, and in 2003, he supported modest caps on greenhouse gas emissions, which didn't pass.

Yet, Biden missed a key vote in 2008 on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, which was said to be the strongest global warming bill to ever make it to the Senate floor. Biden also opposed tightening fuel efficiency standards earlier in his career.

2008 Campaign

Joe Biden in the only current candidate to have debated a Republican opponent. In his campaign in 2008, he referenced something he called "clean coal" that he said he favored for 25 years. He explained it as a reference to Americans exporting energy technology, but his loose language sounds archaic in today's context.

Obama Administration

Joe Biden was Vice President to Barack Obama, during which the nation shot forward on climate policy. The Obama Administration "stimulus package" of 2009 included big investments in climate-smart infrastructure and climate change research. In his second term, Obama, along with Biden, achieved the Paris Climate Agreement, and asserted that jobs and climate action are simultaneous efforts. The Administration produced regulations on coal plants and increased fuel standards. Both efforts deeply cut emissions, yet the coal plant regulation was replaced with a weaker one by Trump.

Presidential Campaign (2020)

Biden put out a climate platform where he went further on his previous positions and embraced the Green New Deal, calling it a "crucial framework." In fact, Biden foresees $1.7 trillion in spending for climate change over the next ten years, $3.3 trillion in state and local investments.

He wants Congress to pass emissions limits with "an enforcement mechanism ... based on the principles that polluters must bear the full cost of the carbon pollution they are emitting." He said it would include "clear, legally-binding emissions reductions," but did not give details.

Furthermore, he supports investments for economically impacted communities. However, he didn't sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge until June 27.

Biden is slower than some for climate change platforms, but he has embraced the Green New Deal. He is slowly accepting that the climate and economy are connected. His less-progressive ideas are gaining criticism from young voters, again bringing light to his past Senate votes.

Biden is not the most climate-oriented candidate, but he is the first in the most recent polling. But he is known for his ability to communicate to blue-collar voters who abandoned Democrats for Trump, as well as older voters.


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