Trump vs Biden: Stances On Climate Change Compared

Learn about the differences between Joe Biden’s and Donald Trump’s climate change and environmental policies.
President Donald Trump (Official White House Photo Shealah Craighead), former Vice President Joe BIden (Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons), and an iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland near the arctic circle on Aug, 16, 2005 (AP/John McConnico)

President Donald Trump (Official White House Photo Shealah Craighead), former Vice President Joe BIden (Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons), and an iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland near the arctic circle on Aug, 16, 2005 (AP/John McConnico)

What is Donald Trump’s climate change plan?

There is no climate change or environmental plan page on Trump’s campaign website. The Trump administration has, however, made many changes to environmental policy in the three years since he took office.

What is Donald Trump’s record on climate change?

Donald Trump’s record on climate change has been to deny the problem exists, going so far as to call climate change a hoax. Obama-era climate protections and EPA regulations have been repealed and environmental prosecutions have gone down drastically during the Trump Administration. In total, the Trump Administration has rolled back at least 95 environmental rules and regulations. The United States no longer leverages any power on the global community to address climate change.

Here are some of the moves the Trump Administration has made:

  • Environmental Justice: While there is no environmental section on the Trump website, they do tout as an accomplishment the creation of a Superfund Task Force. However, one of the first actions of the Trump administration was to approve the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines through, and very close to, indigenous land. According to a report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, “criminal enforcement cases concluded under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act fell by more than a third compared to the same time frame in the Bush and Obama administrations.”
  • International: Trump announced his intentions to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement in June 2017, one of the few countries to not abide by the global agreement.
  • Public Lands: Trump has reversed an Obama era moratorium on oil and gas permits on Federal land, leasing out millions of acres to oil drillers. He also signed legislation to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
  • Polluters: The Trump administration has repeatedly rolled back EPA regulations, including the Methane Emissions Rule as well as the 2015 Clean Water Rule. He also scrapped the Clean Power Plan from the Obama administration. Trump signed into law legislation that rescinded the Stream Protection Rule that holds coal companies accountable for water pollution. In March of 2017, Trump signed an Executive Order that made numerous changes to initiatives that address climate change:
    • Reconsider carbon emission standards for new power plants
    • Reconsider regulations on methane emissions from oil and gas operations
    • Revisit the social cost of carbon estimate that is used to calculate the economic costs of climate change
    • Rescind policies that balance natural resource development with the impacts on the land
    • Review safety standards for hydraulic fracturing on public lands
  • Taxes and Jobs: Energy job gains during the Trump administration have been in the fossil fuel industry, concentrated in fracking and natural gas. Due to the high cost of tariffs, solar jobs have been lost during this timeframe. The tax cut law Trump signed has been a boon to fossil fuel companies, who already pay some of the lowest tax rates in the country.
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What is Joe Biden’s climate change plan?

Joe Biden’s climate change plan is called the “Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice.” This plan has a goal of 2050 to transition to 100% renewable energy and calls for $1.7 trillion in spending over ten years. Biden’s plan cites the Green New Deal as a “crucial framework” for the climate challenges we face. Biden lists the following goals on his website:

  • Ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050.
  • Build a stronger, more resilient nation.
  • Rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change.
  • Stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities.
  • Fulfill our obligation to workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and subsequent decades of economic growth.

Here are the key tenets of his plan:

  • Infrastructure: Biden’s infrastructure plan focuses on ensuring that our buildings, roads, and bridges can withstand the effects of climate change. He also proposes rebuilding our electric grid and water infrastructure so that both are more efficient and ready for future technologies coming with clean energy. Biden’s plan also deploys 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030 to accommodate the influx of electric vehicles under his tax credit plan. Construction of a high-speed rail system plays an important role in Biden’s transportation infrastructure plan to connect the coasts.
  • Environmental Justice: Biden calls for communities of color, low-income, and indigenous communities to be engaged with federal agencies to work with communities directly affected by climate change to develop solutions. He would ensure that the communities affected by climate change are the first to benefit from the Clean Energy Revolution.
  • International Collaboration: The Clean Energy Revolution calls for the United States to recommit to the Paris Climate Agreement, and Biden states this will be a day 1 initiative. Biden’s plan would also support the Kigali Amendment the Montreal Protocol to reduce hydrofluorocarbons and we would recommit to the Green Climate Fund. Biden’s plan would also create agreements with other countries to reduce shipping and aviation emissions. International trade agreements would be intertwined with climate policy.
  • Public Lands: Biden’s plan contains a goal to preserve 30% of America’s land and waters by 2030 in order to foster biodiversity. Biden would push for a global moratorium on offshore drilling in the Arctic. The plan calls for permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and a ban on new oil and gas permitting on public land and waters. Targeted programs would reforest public lands and build offshore wind, with a goal of doubling renewable energy by 2030.
  • Polluters: As a day one initiative, Biden’s plan would limit methane aggressively for new and existing gas and oil operations, reversing a Trump order. Also a day one initiative, all public companies would be required to disclose climate risk and greenhouse gas emissions in their own operations and that of their supply chain. Biden would incentivize the creation of low-carbon fuels to reduce the emissions of the airline industry. Included in Biden’s plan is a call to ban fossil fuel subsidies worldwide, and a ban on those subsidies in the U.S. by the end of his first term. The EPA would pursue pollution cases to the fullest, and Biden would seek new legislation in order to bring harsher punishments for polluters, including holding executives personally accountable with possible jail time.
  • Taxes and Jobs: Biden’s plan reverses the corporate tax cuts signed by Trump, and will direct those funds to assist workers in the fossil fuel industry affected by the change to green jobs. Manufacturers would be eligible for funding to modernize, move to clean energy and create jobs. Biden also states the green jobs created will be union wage with benefits and worker protections. The Clean Energy Revolution also ensures that low-income and minority communities will be given preference in competitive job grant programs.

What is Joe Biden’s record on climate change reform?

Joe Biden was among the first to introduce a climate change bill in the Senate, the Global Climate Protection Act of 1986. The legislation called for annual climate change reports to be made to Congress. While Biden has a good record on voting for climate bills, scoring an 83 with the League of Conservation Voters, he missed voting on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act in 2008. As part of the Obama administration, Biden worked on the Paris Climate Agreement.

A side-by-side comparison of policies.

Issue Biden Trump
  • Roads, bridges, buildings can withstand effects of climate change
  • Electric Grid
  • Water System
  • Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
  • High-speed Rail
  • Suggests funds directed to states be spent on water, waste, electric, and flood management projects
Environmental Justice
  • Work with communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities
  • Created Superfund Task Force
  • Approved Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines
  • Rejoin Paris Climate Agreement
  • Recommit to the Green Climate FundTrade agreements prioritize climate change policy
  • Withdrew United States from Paris Climate Agreement
Public Lands
  • Preserve 30% of US land and water
  • Global moratorium on offshore Arctic oil drilling
  • Ban new oil and gas drilling on public lands
  • Reforest public lands
  • Invest in offshore wind
  • Reversed Moratorium on oil and gas drilling on public lands
  • Opened Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to offshore drilling
  • Limit methane
  • Ban fossil fuel subsidies
  • Strong EPA prosecution
  • Harsher penalties for polluters
  • Rolled back Clean Water Rule
  • Rescinded Stream Protection Rule
  • Fewer Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act criminal enforcement cases
Taxes & Jobs
  • Reverse Trump tax cut and directs money to fossil fuel workers to transition to clean jobs
  • Funding to modernize manufacturing to clean energy
  • Low-income and minority communities given priority to job grant programs
  • Increase in fracking and natural gas jobs
  • Decrease in solar and clean energy jobs
  • Tax cuts and low tax rates for oil and gas companies

The Rantt Rundown

Joe Biden has a climate change plan based on the Green New Deal that focuses on clean, renewable energy and environmental justice for communities affected by climate change. The Clean Energy Revolution plans to move from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy and addresses the needs of workers while holding polluters accountable. Donald Trump does not have a dedicated climate plan, and much of his climate policy has been to undo prior climate initiatives. Polluters have not been held accountable to the extent they have in the previous administrations.

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Rantt 101 // Climate Change / Donald Trump / Environment / Joe Biden