Biden and Trump: Climate change policies amid protests and heat waves

By Shelby O’Brien

In recent weeks, protesters from around the world have received national media attention for their climate activism. Incidents include protestors spraying orange paint on Stonehenge, a national landmark in England, and disrupting a PGA Championship in Connecticut by throwing out a powdery substance on the course. These protests calling for climate change action come as much of the U.S. has dealt with above average temperatures and record breaking heat waves.

The topic of climate change and calls for solutions continue to grow as more and more people see and feel the firsthand effects happening in their communities. According to a January 2024 Pew Research Center survey, 45% of those surveyed say protecting the environment should be a top policy priority. Dealing with climate change is a top policy priority for 36% of those surveyed.

Voters are paying attention to each presidential candidate’s proposed policies on climate change, but there is a partisan gap. When broken down by party lines, the Pew Research Center survey showed 59% of Democrats believe dealing with global climate change is a top priority. While 12% of Republicans believe dealing with global climate change is a top priority.

This divide between Democrats’ and Republicans’ prioritization of climate change shows up in the messaging of each presidential candidate.

President Joe Biden has repeatedly linked taking action on climate change with job creation. Biden also signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act which invests in clean, lower cost energy for consumers. His policies aim at, “reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50% – 52% below 2005 levels in 2030, reaching 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 [and more],” according to the White House website.

On the other hand, Former President Donald Trump has downplayed the threats of climate change, at one point questioning the scientific facts that show climate change as a growing problem to tackle. His proposed policies take aim at the shift towards renewable energy sources. An NPR article quotes one of Trump’s senior advisors saying “Trump is committed to unleashing American energy sources like coal, oil, and gas to ensure affordability for families and security in the world by making us a more self-sufficient nation.”

Biden and Trump have both stuck with climate change messaging and policies which fall in line with their base supporters’ beliefs. With the upcoming presidential debates, the topic of climate change and how each nominee plans to deal with it will be on full display.