Climate change hovers over campaigns

Democratic presidential candidates ponder their stances on climate change, while some do not offer comprehensive policies.


Roman Slabach

Washigton Governor Jay Inslee stopped by Paulson Electric Co in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday March 5, 2019. Jay Inslee talked with CEO Tyler Olson about climate change and how solar pannels combat its effects. (Roman Slabach/The Daily Iowan).

Julia DiGiacomo, Politics Reporter

The call for climate-change solutions is an emerging pattern in the campaigns of Democratic presidential hopefuls. Candidates address the issue in a variety of ways, from outlining specific plans to simply calling for broader change.

Timothy Hagle, a University of Iowa political science associate professor, said climate change is addressed in a similar manner to other political issues, in that some candidates come up with detailed plans for action, and others remain more vague while considering how to balance the various components.

Candidates attempt to find the line between proposing measures to limit climate change without potentially jeopardizing the economy with drastic changes, he said.

“Sometimes, these problems are so entrenched that it’s hard to come up with a solution that everyone will agree with,” Hagle said.

Most of the Democratic presidential candidates have recognized climate change as a problem, he said, and he predicts the topic will be brought up in a question at the first Democratic debates on June 26 and 27.

However, he said, climate change still isn’t addressed on the campaign trail as often as other issues that may hit closer to home for people at town halls, such as health care, the economy, and jobs.

Despite some candidates not outlining clear policies that address the growing issue of climate change, it remains a top priority for many Democratic caucus-goers, although many voters are unclear as to how they want candidates to address the issue.

RELATED: Self-described “climate candidate” Jay Inslee makes first Iowa stop

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, the Democratic presidential candidate making climate change the clear, No. 1 focus of his campaign, repeatedly acknowledges the threat of climate change as the driving motivation behind his run for president. Investing in clean energy sources, such as solar and wind, are one of his strategies for improving sustainability while creating jobs.

“We need to save our kids from the threat of asthma,” Inslee said at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Celebration on June 9, which brought together 19 presidential candidates. “We’ve got to save the farmers from the floods. We’ve got to put 8 million people to work in clean energy. We understand that this is the epicenter, the place where we understand the urgency of climate change. Iowa is on the frontline of disaster, and it is on the cutting edge of technology.”

RELATED: 19 Democratic presidential candidates outline progressive policies at Hall of Fame Celebration

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also zeroes in on climate change by crafting campaign plan. Her proposal, revealed June 4, outlined her goal to invest $2 trillion in green industries to create jobs and support manufacturing.

Former Vice President Joe Biden released a competing climate-change plan on June 4. The plan embraced components of the Green New Deal and proposes to spend $1.7 trillion to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050.

Biden has touted his plan for combating climate change at campaign rallies, such as in Clinton on June 12, when he proposed building a nationwide network of charging stations on highways for electric cars. He outlined the importance of investing in clean energy innovation in order to avoid climate-related challenges, including the recent flooding in the Midwest.

“We can create somewhere around 4 million paying jobs if we in fact provide for fundamental change in how we generate our energy,” Biden said at his campaign rally in Clinton on June 12.