While some 2020 candidates are being attacked by climate activists for their “middle-ground” approaches to climate change policy, others, like Jay Inslee, are making it the central issue of their presidential campaign.
Inslee, the governor of Washington State, first announced his 2020 bid on the floor of a solar installation factory in Seattle. There, he promised that as president he would switch the US energy system to renewables, create millions of jobs in the clean technology industry, focus on environmental justice, and end fossil fuel subsidies- all in order to achieve net zero greenhouse gas pollution in the US.
Inslee is framing himself as the only candidate that will make climate change the number one priority in the white house. His single platform campaign is being praised by climate activists for being rooted in science, with Inslee claiming in a NowThis News video that he reads the science on the issue almost daily, and has been a student of the subject for almost two decades.
Inslee is arguably the only candidate who is echoing the urgency of scientists in regards to defeating climate change by making it the centerpiece of his campaign and consistently naming it as an existential threat to civilization. The bright side? He isn’t just doing it to receive votes from climate change advocates in 2020.
Since taking office as governor in 2013, Inslee has dedicated himself to making Washington a green state and has molded himself into a political champion for the environment. He has put Washington on track to run on 100% clean energy by 2045, has established the state’s Clean Energy Fund that supports innovation and job creation in the clean technology sector, and has pushed for bipartisan climate action through creating the U.S. Climate Alliance that garners climate action throughout the nation.
Inslee’s tireless dedication to defeating climate change is illustrated through his legislation history, but it may be overshadowed by the popularity of other democratic candidates. Inslee isn’t even appearing in most 2020 election surveys, and when he is, he is vastly outnumbered by most candidates, particularly front runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
To climate activists, Inslee may be their dream, but Sanders will turn out to be their reality due to his popularity. While he isn’t centralizing his campaign around climate change, he has been a public supporter of the Green New Deal and says that the country has a moral responsibility to defeat climate change to ensure our future generations have a healthy and habitable planet. This is a huge leg up to Biden, whose “middle ground” approach to climate change has been called insufficient and criticized for lacking urgency.