The Center for American Progress Action Fund, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club have formed a group to fight back against misinformation spread by the Trump administration on climate change, push politicians to take a stand on environmental issues, and demonstrate that climate is a winning issue up-and-down the ballot.
Colorado is one of the eight states that the new group, called Climate Power 2020, will focus on, along with Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The focus on Colorado is due in part to the groups’ interest in two races in November’s election: the U.S. Senate and a congressional race in southwest Colorado.
Climate 2020 is also drawn to Colorado because of the state’s relatively strong turnout from youth voters, who care about environmental issues. In the last four general elections, under-35 voter turnout rates have been 7-15 percentage points higher in Colorado than the national average.
“The youth here in Colorado are very involved and concerned,” said Micah Parkin, Director of 350 Colorado, an environmental advocacy organization focused on eliminating the use of fossil fuels across the state. “They’re willing to take action. We’ve seen that young people are educated about climate change and are far more likely to accept the science behind climate change than older demographics.”
Recent polling results published by Climate Power 2020 show that voters under 35 are more likely to strongly support candidates who take concrete action to combat climate change.
A high youth voter turnout with more of those voters caring about the environment could spell bad news for Republicans in the two races targeted by Climate Power 2020.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who is defending his Senate seat, and U.S.Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO), is running for re-election in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in southwestern Colorado, both have low environmental ratings, according to the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), one of the groups that created Climate Power 2020. It grades U.S. politicians on how they vote on environmental issues on a 0-100% scale. Gardner was given an 11% lifetime score and Tipton was given a 7% on LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard.
Parkin faults politicians for their failure to see the urgency in the climate crisis.
“The main focus this election cycle is starting on the road to a just recovery, Parkin said, “We can’t fix the problem if those in charge refuse to accept that there’s a problem in the first place.”
Thomas Riggle is on the leadership team of the Colorado Chapter of the Sierra Club, another one of the founding organizations of Climate Power 2020. Riggle views this election year as an opportunity to replace Gardner with an environmentally-friendly candidate.
“One of the reasons 2020 is so important is the push to get Cory Gardner out of the senate,” Riggle said. “There is a national focus to get someone in that senate seat that is going to acknowledge climate change and hopefully push progressive environmental policies at the national level.”
The two Democrats vying to take on Gardner are former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff.
Climate Power 2020’s advisory board is populated by many national political and environmental figures including former Georgia state representative Stacey Abrams, co-author of the Green New Deal Rhiana Gunn-Wright, former Secretary of State John Kerry, and former Democratic presidential-hopeful Tom Steyer.
John Podesta, a former White House senior advisor to Presidents Clinton and Obama, is also on the advisory board. In a statement released alongside Climate Power 2020’s launch announcement, Podesta connected Trump’s constant rebukes of scientific consensus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with his rampant deregulation of environmental policies.
“President Trump must be held accountable for his rejection of science, facts, and reality,” said Podesta. “For both COVID-19 and the climate crisis, the anti-science policies from this administration are pushing our nation into crisis. Climate Power 2020 will change the politics of climate — pushing all candidates to aggressively campaign on climate action and holding science-denying campaigns accountable.”