Voter’s Guide: Compare Candidates on Climate and Energy

POLITICS

Here’s what you need to know about how the major presidential candidates stack up on climate, environmental regulations, renewable energy, and fossil fuels. (Nat Geo News)

Use our media-rich resources to help students make informed decisions about climate change, environmental regulations, renewable energy, and fossil fuels.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources, including today’s interactive poll and links to the candidates’ own platforms on environmental issues.

Discussion Ideas

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Illustration by Daisy Chung, National Geographic

  • The Nat Geo News article offers a great voter’s guide to the leading presidential candidates’ stances on four key environmental issues: climate change, environmental regulation, renewable energy subsidies, and reliance on fossil fuels. How is Nat Geo framing the debate surrounding climate change?
    • Some candidates think global warming, the current period of climate change, is largely driven by human activities. For example, Democratic Candidate Bernie Sanders says “Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet. The debate is over, and the scientific jury is in: global climate change is real, it is caused mainly by emissions released from burning fossil fuels and it poses a catastrophic threat to the long-term longevity of our planet.”
    • Some candidates acknowledge the issues posed by climate change but urge caution to protect our fossil fuel industries and modern way of life. For example, Republican Candidate Jeb Bush says “The climate is changing; I don’t think anybody can argue it’s not. Human activity has contributed to it. I think we have a responsibility to adapt to what the possibilities are without destroying our economy.”
    • Some candidates deny an unusual period of climate change altogether. For example, Republican Candidate Ben Carson says “Is there climate change? Of course there’s climate change. Any point in time, temperatures are going up or temperatures are going down.”

 

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Illustration by Daisy Chung, National Geographic

  • How is Nat Geo framing the debate surrounding the EPA and environmental regulation?
    • Some candidates support enforcing or strengthening government regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For example, Democratic Candidate Martin O’Malley supports “[d]irecting the Environmental Protection Agency to take aggressive action to limit greenhouse gases, expanding rules to other large sources of emissions beyond power plants.”
    • Some candidates think that regulations hurt businesses and impede freedom. For example, Republican Candidate Donald Trump says “what [the EPA does] is a disgrace. Every week they come out with new regulations . . . We can leave a little bit [of environmental protections] but you can’t destroy businesses.”

 

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Illustration by Daisy Chung, National Geographic

  • How is Nat Geo framing the debate surrounding renewable energy?
    • Some candidates support financial incentives to businesses that invest in renewable energy technologies. For example, Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton thinks that federal standards “should set the floor, not the ceiling [for investment in renewable energy]. [She would] launch a Clean Energy Challenge that will form new partnerships with states, cities, and rural communities that are ready to lead.”
    • Some candidates reject major subsidies, but support making renewable energy alternatives more affordable to consumers on a regional basis, or working with energy companies to reduce government expenditures. For example, Republican Candidate Chris Christie recommends taking a “cautious approach” and working “with the private sector to make solar energy affordable and available to businesses and individuals.”
    • Some candidates reject incentives altogether. For example, Republican Candidate Ted Cruz says “We should abolish all of the energy preferences across the board, and allow competition to play out.”

 

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Illustration by Daisy Chung, National Geographic

  • How is Nat Geo framing the debate surrounding fossil fuels?
    • Some candidates think the United States should reduce our reliance on fossil fuels such as natural gas, petroleum, and coal. For example, Democratic Candidate Bernie Sanders says “Ban fossil fuels lobbyists from working in the White House . . . End the huge subsidies that benefit fossil fuel companies . . . Put a price on carbon . . . Ban Arctic oil drilling . . . Ban offshore drilling . . . Stop dirty pipeline projects like the Keystone XL . . . Stop exports of liquefied natural gas and crude oil . . . Ban fracking for natural gas.”
    • Some candidates support maintaining or strengthening U.S. fossil fuel businesses. For example, Republican Candidate Marco Rubio says “There’s no way we’re not going to do oil and natural gas. God has blessed this nation with these resources. It would be reckless and irresponsible to not fully utilize all of our energy resources.”

 

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: Voter’s Guide: Compare Candidates on Climate and Energy

Nat Geo: How important to you is a candidate’s stance on climate change? poll

Nat Geo: Earth’s Changing Climates activity

Nat Geo: Sustainability: Bluefin Regulations video

Nat Geo: What is renewable energy? encyclopedic entry

Nat Geo: Fossil Fuels and Carbon picture of practice

Presidential Candidates on Environmental Issues: In Their Own Words
(candidates sorted alphabetically)

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