Back to top

What You Need to Know: A Glimpse at Climate Policy in the Democratic Party Platform

As we approach the Democratic National Convention, we’ve reviewed the draft 2020 Democratic Party Platform.  In this critical moment, we face an unprecedented global pandemic and economic recession. More than ever, we need a US policy agenda that centers the solutions of grassroots feminists and social movements worldwide.

Below is our analysis of key highlights of the platform, with a focus on US climate policy.

  • Global climate justice: The platform recognizes that we are in a “climate emergency,” setting goals to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and to engage in international cooperation to address the crisis.

However, we must go beyond re-entering the Paris Agreement and maximizing contributions to the Green Climate Fund. Given that the US has contributed to the climate crisis more than any other country, it must do more to offer reparations to the Global South, where women and communities are already being hit the hardest by climate disaster.

The platform also doesn’t address the global implications of a transition to renewable energy. This includes the impact of increased demand for minerals that will largely impact Indigenous and vulnerable communities in the Global South. We need human rights, labor and environmental protections across the supply chain. Finally, as people are increasingly displaced by climate disasters, the US must offer them protection.

  • Keep fossil fuels in the ground: The platform should tackle the root causes of climate change: the extractive industries that emit carbon and seize Indigenous lands. The platform commits to holding fossil fuel companies responsible for “cleaning up” abandoned facilities, but it should go further to set clear goals for ending existing and new fossil fuel infrastructure, end subsidies for fossil fuel and agribusiness corporations, and push for a definitive end to fracking.

Furthermore, the platform advocates for so-called alternative paths, such as nuclear energy or hydroelectric power, which are false solutions that carry their own risks, especially for marginalized communities.

  • Don’t “green” the military: The platform states that climate change “must be at the core of all policy” for national security and the Department of Defense. However, “greening” the military is a nonstarter. Not only is the US military a major polluter, but the US has a history of fighting wars for oil, to establish extractive fossil fuel sites in other countries. Instead of a “green” military, we need measures to defund the Pentagon and redirect funds to advancing climate justice.

  • Review climate policy for its gendered impacts: The platform notes that climate change’s impacts “are not evenly distributed,” and commits to an environmental justice fund to address legacy pollution and improve access to clean water and air in low-income and minority communities. The platform should also require climate policies and programs to be reviewed for their impacts on people of different genders and the intersection of identities. We know that gender interacts with race, class, sexuality, Indigenous identity, disability, age and immigration status, making some more vulnerable.

For instance, women experience heightened domestic violence during and after disasters. Black women in the US are more likely to be exposed to air pollution, which worsens maternal and child health. Globally, women and girls, who shoulder the responsibilities of securing food, water and fuel for their families, see their workloads dramatically increase due to climate-related droughts, floods, or disasters. Further, the government should ensure participatory spaces for decision-making around climate justice policies, centering global, grassroots women’s leadership in these processes.

  • Indigenous rights: The platform notes that “Indigenous communities have long suffered disproportionate and cumulative harm from air pollution, water pollution, and toxic sites.” It promises to invest in health, clean water, clean energy generation and distribution, regenerative agriculture, and broadband services and housing for Native Americans. While the platform recognizes the sovereignty of Tribal Nations, it only alludes to “robust and meaningful consultation” processes. It should explicitly require Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples for all decisions that affect them and their territories.

Further, Indigenous women and girls have long been at the forefront of providing sustainable and just solutions to combat the climate crisis. We must ensure their meaningful participation at all stages - planning, implementation, and monitoring of federal, state and local programs - and center their solutions for a just transition.


August 17, 2020