Despite all the presidential candidates running for office in 2020, I am disappointed by the lack of contenders who genuinely consider the health of our planet and take its expiration date seriously.
Of course, every candidate makes promises that their vision of national prosperity will be enacted if voted into office, but where do we begin comparing their authenticity when only a small margin of those running have actually vocalized a call to combat climate change?
If we truly care about the future of our country and our world, we must elect leaders that also express the same urgency for change.
The New York Times compiled a list of those verified to be running for the Oval Office in 2020, which so far includes twenty people.
Disturbingly, only a handful of the running candidates operate on platforms distinctly focused on climate change.
The lack of attention and progressive action that candidates have shown regarding the health of the environment should be critiqued by media outlets and the American public, both of whom hopefully understand that we cannot afford to elect another leader into office that does not fully acknowledge the real threat climate change is to all people on Earth.
There are three candidates, all Democrats, which have stood out as advocates for environmental policy changes, including Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Since announcing his candidacy, Inslee has asserted that his agenda as president would make climate change the number one priority: “It’s got to be on the top, otherwise we will not succeed in doing this.”
Around all of these issues, Inslee has managed to frame a majority of the conversations surrounding current events and policy heavily on climate change while tying in the universal impact they have, and how climate change interacts with them. In an interview with Vox reporter David Roberts, Inslee mentioned that “improving voting rights” is key to building momentum for action on global warming too.
Warren, who was one of the few Senate supporters of the Green New Deal, has been criticized for a lack of involvement in environmental issues. Since announcing her running, she has been outspoken about her hatred of corruption in Washington.
At her campaign announcement, Warren boldly stated: “Washington refuses to lift a finger without permission from the fossil fuel companies. That’s dangerous and it’s wrong!”
However, acknowledging the impending destruction that climate change imposes is not enough. Candidates must also stress that they will use their position of power to diligently implement laws that will govern industries, practices, and trade deals that produce negative side-effects on the planet.
Buttigieg, on the other hand, has shown he truly cares for the planet. According to NRDC Action Fund, in 2018 Buttigieg committed South Bend to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, saying “We are already seeing the effects of climate change on our residents and businesses.”
“The broader thing [regarding solutions to climate change] is to make it clear that there are opportunities, especially for working people and industry, that lie in the possibilities of dealing with this issue in the same way that the arrival of World War II was part of what made it possible for America to lift itself out of the Great Depression,”
Whatever the new president’s political leaning or agendas may be, they must have a foundation focused on repairing the environment and a distinct plan which will accomplish this.
Equally important is their ability to nurture the American economy for the mutual benefits that come with sustainability and restoration within the natural world and economic world.
Going forward in the upcoming election season, many candidates will attempt to jump on the environmental bandwagon. Deciphering sincerity amongst candidates who claim sensitivity towards climate change, and pronounce strategies to fight it, must be compared to their past experience in the roles of power they already hold.
We must have a president that beholds the state of our planet in urgency and unsatisfied renewal while managing the louder demands of hot-button issues that threaten to categorize climate change as a distant threat or natural consequence.
If the next elected president has not worked to reform environmental policy in the past, they probably won’t have the zeal to stand up for it in the future.