When it comes to climate change and the 2016 Democratic presidential candidates, a lot has changed in the last five months.
Back in July, ThinkProgress released a chart showing what voters could expect from the candidates when it came to tackling climate change, based on their public statements and official plans. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley had the most aggressive rhetoric by a landslide. At the time, he was the only candidate who called publicly for an eventual complete phase-out of fossil fuels, and more government regulation of carbon dioxide emissions in addition to the Clean Power Plan. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, was the only Democratic candidate who had not spoken out about the now-rejected Keystone XL pipeline, drilling in the Arctic, or tax breaks for fossil fuel companies.
Fast forward to present, Clinton and her chief rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have amped up their rhetoric surrounding climate change and the environment. On Monday, Sanders released a comprehensive climate change plan specifically geared toward phasing out fossil fuel use. And in the last five months, Clinton has come out against Arctic drilling, against the Keystone XL pipeline, and against federal subsidies for oil companies.
Here’s where the Democratic candidates stand on climate change issues now, compared to their public positions in July 2015:
With the release of Sanders’ plan on Monday, all three candidates now have fairly comprehensive plans for how they’d tackle environmental issues if elected president. Sanders’ plan closely resembles O’Malley’s — both call for 100 percent renewable energy, through implementation of policies like a carbon tax, bans on offshore and Arctic drilling, and heavy investment in clean technologies. O’Malley’s plan says the 100 percent goal would be hit by 2050, while Sanders’ plan calls for 80 percent clean energy by 2050. Sanders’ plan doesn’t set a specific year for the 100 percent goal.
Clinton’s plan is focused heavily on clean energy investment, including a 700 percent increase in solar panel installations by 2021. Unlike her rivals, her plan does not call for any carbon pricing system or bans on offshore drilling. She has, however, expressed support for cap-and-trade — thought it’s not necessarily something she would pursue as president.
One thing we added in this chart is each candidates’ position on fracking, a controversial technique where companies blast water, sand, and chemicals into underground shale rock to extract oil and gas. Sanders is the only candidate who has called for a total fracking ban. During his time as Maryland governor, O’Malley allowed fracking to move forward, but with strict environmental protections. Clinton has called for a fracking ban on public lands, but has also said the process is essential for a transition to a clean energy economy.
Here’s the full list of the Democratic candidates’ positions now: