Bernie Soars and Biden Stumbles in New Greenpeace Ranking of 2020 Candidates’ Climate Platforms


May 30, 2019

A new ranking released today evaluates which 2020 presidential hopefuls are best positioned to meet the high bar for bold climate leadership Americans require from our next president. Jay Inslee tops the list with an ‘A-’, followed closely by Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker, both with ‘B+’ grades. Among Democrats, Joe Biden and John Hickenlooper round out the bottom with ‘D-’ grades.

Greenpeace USA Climate Campaign Director Janet Redman said:

“We are in a climate emergency. Yet for the last several elections, even the majority of politicians who claim to care about our future have done little more than say they believe the climate crisis is real. That doesn’t cut it anymore. In 2020, true climate leadership means nothing less than saying ‘yes’ to a Green New Deal and ‘no’ to fossil fuels.

“To those who currently lead this ranking, we say keep it up. The bar is high because nothing less than transformational action can guide us out of this crisis. We encourage you to continue proving you’re an ally Americans on the frontlines of climate disasters can trust. To those at the back of the pack, we say step it up. Show us you have the mettle to take on the oil executives standing in the way of progress towards the green, prosperous future our country deserves.”

To determine each candidate’s ranking, Greenpeace USA reviewed their legislative records, public statements, and responses to a 29-question survey. [1] Candidates were evaluated on two criteria. First, their commitment to end the fossil fuel era by enacting policies to halt oil, gas, and coal expansion, phase out existing production, and center fossil fuel workers and climate-impacted communities in the transition to a renewable energy economy. And second, their vision for a Green New Deal, including mobilizing towards 100 percent renewable energy for all, creating millions of family-sustaining jobs, and securing a better future for communities that have borne the brunt of fossil fuel industry exploitation.

The full ranking includes all Democratic candidates who have qualified for the first DNC debate, as well as the two declared Republican candidates. Here’s how those currently leading [2] national polls ranked:

  • Bernie Sanders – B+
  • Elizabeth Warren – B
  • Beto O’Rourke – B-
  • Pete Buttigieg – C-
  • Kamala Harris – C-
  • Joe Biden – D-

Climate change has emerged as a leading issue among Democratic voters and young Republicans. An April CNN poll [3] ranked climate change the top issue among Democratic voters, with 96 percent of respondents saying it’s “very important” that candidates take “aggressive action to slow the effects of climate change.”

Greenpeace USA Senior Research Specialist Tim Donaghy, PhD, said:

“The science is clear — we cannot allow the continued expansion of fossil fuels and prevent further climate emergencies at the same time. We need candidates to come up with bold, concrete plans in line with the scale of the crisis we’re facing, and who recognize the opportunity that addressing climate change and transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy represents for people across the country — especially those who breathe in coal-polluted air or live near fracking wells.”

Donald Trump received an F, scoring zero out of a possible 100 points.



[1] The interactive candidate scorecard is available here, a detailed breakdown by candidate is available here, and the scoring methodology is available here.



To maintain independence, Greenpeace USA does not endorse or oppose any political party, candidate, or elected official. We work to hold all candidates for office to the standard that science says is necessary to avert climate crisis, which means supporting a Green New Deal and ending fossil fuels.


Ryan Schleeter, Senior Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (415) 342-2386, [email protected]


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