Pete Buttigieg on Climate Change: 2020 Election Profile

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

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 Pete Buttigieg compare?


Pete Buttigieg is currently in his eighth and final year as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. In 2017, he preserved the EPA data on climate change that the Trump Administration decided to trash.

As mayor, Buttigieg was faced with devastating flooding. In 2016, there was an 1000-year flood (a flood that only happens every thousand years), and in 2018 there was a 500-year flood (a flood that only happens every 500 years). They costed millions of dollars and damaged thousands of homes.

Even though Indiana state leadership has banned city climate initiatives, Buttigieg set up an Office of Sustainability for South Bend. Buttigieg has joined other mayors in climate pledges.

"We've continued to demonstrate our climate values by building LEED-certified fire stations, introducing free electric vehicle charging stations, empowering national service members to improve energy efficiency in low-income neighborhoods, and mentoring other Indiana cities seeking to lead on climate issues," Buttigieg said.

His administration is also working to repair remaining damage from recent flooding and to ensure that vulnerable South Bend neighborhoods don't get battered again. The city approved a contract to install gates on stormwater pipes that drain into the river, for the next time the river reaches flood stage.

Presidential Campaign

Buttigieg is a supporter of climate plans and policies. He names the Green New Deal as his main policy, stating that he will,

"Implement a Green New Deal with all available tools including a carbon tax-and-dividend for Americans, and major direct investment to build a 100% clean energy society"

On his website, he states that the Green New Deal will come "The American way — by building and innovating." His administration would work with communities to make the transition to clean energy run smoothly. He says that he is aware that a large part of the Green New Deal is jobs, and he says that will take "bold, decisive actions [...] while creating new, high-paying jobs."

Buttigieg has additional climate policies that are part of his campaign. He says that he will work towards increasing energy efficiency in homes, invest in building retrofits for increased efficiency, strengthen rural resilience/protect rural communities from environmental hazards, and make the transportation and industry sectors carbon free.

Buttigieg, similar to what he did as mayor, wants to convene state and local leaders for an agreement on community-driven carbon reduction. On a larger scale, he wants to recommit to the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as collaborate with other countries to increase "all our goals."

Buttigeig wants to create an addition to the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, a Climate Corps. These volunteers would go into rural, predominantly minority, communities and work with them to build climate resilience and sustainability. Buttigieg is focusing on high school graduates, wanting to make it the cultural norm to join Climate Corps, adding a student loan incentive.

For his campaign, Buttigeig pledged to take no money from fossil fuels (the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge). He says that fossil fuels would have to be driven down through the federal government, creating room for new "climate positive" energy infrastructure. Buttigieg said he would ban new fossil fuel development on federal lands.

Buttigieg calls for quadrupling federal research and funding for renewable energy and energy storage. He also said that farmers could help, even though many of them deny climate change, "through better soil management, soil could capture a level of carbon equivalent to the entire global transportation industry."

Buttigieg is the youngest candidate in the running (37), which shows in his polling; Buttigieg is a distant fifth. However, Buttigieg points to climate change when asked about his age, talking about how in 2054, when he is 72, the age of Donald Trump, his generation will be suffering from climate change.

"If this generation doesn't step up, we're in trouble. This is, after all, the generation that's gonna be on the business end of climate change for as long as we live." 

–Pete Buttigieg, April 2019


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