These Races Will Shape What the US Elections Mean for Climate Progress

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Climate art Trump drowning

These Races Will Shape What the US Elections Mean for Climate Progress 1This story is part of Now cover the climate, a global journalistic collaboration that strengthens reporting on climate history.

W.Hat follows are Not Candidate Notes. Rather, this impartial guide aims to educate voters, help journalists decide which races to watch, and examine what the 2020 elections could mean for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.

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Unsuspecting boss: President Donald Trump, who denies man-made climate change, points to maps of Hurricane Michael in 2018. (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

Is the White House going green?

Whether the White House changes hands is the most important climate issue in the 2020 elections. President Donald Trump rejects climate science, pulls the United States back from the Paris Agreement and has accelerated the development of fossil fuels. His climate policy appears to be when he tweeted in January when he turned down a proposal by the US Army Corps of Engineers to protect New York City from storm surges: “Get your pugs and buckets ready.”

Joe Biden, who started the 2020 campaign with such a weak climate position that activists gave it an “F”, called Trump a “climate arsonist” during the recent California wildfires. Biden supports a $ 2 trillion plan to create millions of jobs while cutting emissions – a Green New Deal except for the name. It is also striking that his fellow campaigner, California Senator Kamala Harris, has advocated phasing out fossil fuel production – a politically explosive scientific imperative.

The race will be decided in a handful of battlefield states, five of which are already facing severe climatic hazards: Florida (hurricanes and sea level rise), North Carolina (ditto), Texas (storms and drought), Michigan (floods) and Arizona (heat waves and drought) ). Public concern is growing But will this concern translate into voices in these states?

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The US Capitol. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Will Democrats flip the Senate and enough to pass a green New Deal?

Since the Democrats will almost certainly retain their majority in the US House of Representatives, the Senate will decide whether a potential Biden administration can actually make climate progress. Democrats have to take three seats to flip the Senate if Biden wins, four if he doesn’t. But since some Democrats, especially Joe Manchin of coal-dependent West Virginia, eschew aggressive climate policies, Democrats will likely have to get five or six Senate seats to pass a Green New Deal.

Environmentalists, including the League of Conservation Voters, target six Republicans who polls say are vulnerable.

  • Steve Daines from Montana who denies climate science
  • Martha McSally from Arizona
  • Thom Tillis from North Carolina
  • Susan Collins from Maine
  • Joni Ernst from Iowa (funded by Charles Koch)
  • John James from Michigan (also a Cook beneficiary)

Republican senators are even at risk in conservative Kansas and Alaska. In both states, the democratic candidates are doctors – not a bad pass in the midst of a pandemic – who support climate action. In Kansas, Barbara Bollier faces an incumbent financed by Charles Koch. In Alaska, Al Gross is pushing for a transition from oil, although its openness to limited drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve lessen its appeal to green groups. He faces incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan, who receives a lifetime voting record of 8 percent from the League of Conservation Voters.

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