2008 Election Issues: Climate Change


Jan. 30, 2008 -- Historically, environmental issues have taken a back seat in national elections. But that appears to be changing.

Climate change is moving to the front burner for many of the candidates vying for the Democratic and Republican nominations in 2008. The new awareness results from several factors: A growing consensus among Americans on the left and right that global warming issues must be addressed; concern over imported oil from the Middle East; and the newfound muscle of California's eco-voters, thanks to their state's early primary this year.

Here, a guide to what the presidential candidates have said so far:

The Candidates on Climate Change
Democrats Republicans
Sen. Hillary Clinton. Photo: Getty Images

Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY): Supports an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Her track record on auto fuel-economy standards is mixed: She supported an increase to 40 mpg in 2003 but opposed it in 2005. She proposed a $50 billion R&D fund for energy efficiency and alternative energy; oil companies would have to pay into the fund or invest in clean energy themselves.

Sen. John McCain. Photo: Getty Images

Sen. John McCain (AZ): Lead author of a Senate proposal to reduce carbon emissions by 65 percent by 2050. Supported an increase in auto fuel economy to 35 mpg but opposed a 40 mpg standard. During a GOP debate, he said, "We ought to be investing in alternate energy sources. Recently, there was a group of retired military officers who said climate change and energy independence is a national security issue. It is."

Sen. Barack Obama. Photo: Getty Images

Sen. Barack Obama (IL): Supports cutting carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Favors increasing the auto fuel-economy standard to 40 mpg. Would reward domestic automakers for producing more fuel-efficient vehicles by helping to fund health care for their retirees. Under his plan, 50 percent of the health care savings would be invested in technology for cars with better gas mileage.

Sources: Candidate Web sites; transcripts from the June 5, 2007, New Hampshire Republican debate; and the League of Conservation Voters Web site, heatison.org.