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Carbon pricing earns mixed support as Dem presidential candidates talk climate change ideas

A new report asked all 18 declared candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination about various views on climate issues, and finds that just 7 of them would absolutely favor carbon pricing.

The New York Times surveyed the candidates, and the first issue presented in the report was carbon pricing — presented as a carbon tax — which fewer than half of the candidates “put their weight firmly behind.”

Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Kirsten Gillibrand, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang are all in favor of carbon pricing, while Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, and Eric Swalwell were included in the “willing to consider it” group.

A specific plan on carbon pricing came from former Maryland representative John Delaney, who outlined pricing that starts at $15/metric ton of carbon dioxide, to increase $10 each year. The revenue would go back to taxpayers, who would be given the option to invest their dividend in a “tax-advantaged savings account.” Andrew Yang expressed a similar plan, but at a rate of $40/metric ton and increasing over time.

There may be some shifting attitudes on the subject — or not. For instance, Bernie Sanders once wrote about “Why We Need A Carbon Tax,” but his name isn’t on the list. However, some candidates simply didn’t answer all of the questions, as seen in the full list of responses included by the Times. Sanders, Warren, Harris, and Hickenlooper didn’t answer the carbon question. Gabbard was the only candidate who either didn’t support it specifically in the answer or didn’t answer.

More Issues

When asked about expanding federal regulations beyond those outlined in the Paris Agreement — which all of the candidates support and seek a return to — 9 of the 18 said they were needed. Those candidates were Castro, Gabbard, Gillibrand,  Hickenlooper, Inslee, O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren, and Williamson. Messam, Ryan, Swalwell, and Yang all fell under “willing to consider it.”

There was general support for a national renewable energy standard, though specifics differed when the question was answered, and all the candidates support greater investment in climate research.

Nuclear energy was the most divisive, with Booker, Delaney, Hickenlooper, Inslee, Klobuchar, Ryan, and Yang supporting new development. Sanders, Gabbard, and Messam rejected it, and a number of candidates did not answer.

Electrek’s Take

We’d like to get clearer answers from the candidates on all of these issues — some questions didn’t get a response at all, and answers sometimes came from the campaign, rather than directly from candidates themselves. Nevertheless, this is certainly a good starting point for someone looking to get acclimated with the candidates’ views on climate change.

From the way we read the responses, carbon pricing may have stronger support among the group than is initially suggested, though it’s clear many candidates don’t see it as the only initiative necessary to mitigate climate change and transition to a green energy future. Nor should they. But we’re curious to see how these responses evolve and what nuances come forth as the campaign trail heats up.

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Phil Dzikiy is an Editor/Writer with Electrek/9to5Mac. Tips: