Impact Campaign: Best Candidates For Climate Change: 2020 SEAL Environmental Policy Endorsement

Best Candidates For Climate Change - 2020 SEAL Environmental Policy Endorsement

Impact Campaign: Best Candidates For Climate Change: 2020 SEAL Environmental Policy Endorsement

July 17, 2019 – Believing the climate crisis requires an immediate and ambitious response, SEAL Awards has evaluated the 2020 US Presidential candidates on the basis of their environmental platforms, and today announces three finalists for the SEAL Awards 2020 Environmental Policy Endorsement:

– 1st Place: Governor Jay Inslee

– 2nd Place: Senator Elizabeth Warren

– 3rd Place: Senator Bernie Sanders

“The escalating climate crisis poses an existential threat to modern society, so we must consider the impact each potential candidate would have on the environment as the keystone issue in this campaign. Without ambitious and immediate leadership to reverse the effects of climate change, the foundations of our economy, social welfare, and international relations will all face significant adverse effects. To echo Professor Michael Mann, ‘we need a world-war type mobilization’ to address our climate crisis.” –Safa Bee, Impact Lead for SEAL Awards

Importantly, this endorsement is solely focused on each candidates’ environmental policies as opposed to their overall candidacy.

SEAL Awards believes the goal should be for the best aspects of each candidates’ approach to inform the policies championed at all levels of government, with initiative taken from local to international level, irrespective of who prevails in the 2020 Presidential campaign.

“Defeating the climate crisis must be the top priority of the next administration. It is not just one issue, but rather the lens through which we must be viewing every issue, from the economy to national defense to health care and immigration. I am grateful that SEAL Awards has acknowledged the importance of the next administration defeating the climate crisis, and I am proud to receive their endorsement.” –Governor Jay Inslee

The SEAL endorsement panel was composed of 20 experts, including 11 academic researchers from leading institutions, and three ‘thought leaders’ in the field of environmental science. Notably, SEAL also sought input from six youth activists leading the climate justice movement from organizations such as EarthEcho International, US Youth Climate Strike, ThinkOcean Global, and Sunrise Movement.

With all presidential candidates under consideration, the platform and policy track record of each candidate was assessed using five key points of impact, drawn from thought leadership including guidelines published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The five specific areas SEAL Awards chose to focus on were:

  • Agriculture & Food Systems
  • Carbon & Energy Policy
  • Conservation & Restoration
  • Infrastructure & Transportation
  • Investment In Green Tech Innovation


Further consideration was given to each candidate’s demonstrated ability to:

  • View the issues of environmental protection and reversing climate change holistically, rather than as a standalone platform issue, and to provide nuanced solutions to complex, interconnected issues;
  • Understand the connections between – and seek solutions that account for – racial, gender, and economic justice in the pursuit of an environmentally responsible society; and
  • Demonstrate an ability to quickly grasp and respond flexibly to issues in a society where emerging technology, climate science, and geopolitics are all evolving rapidly.

“The beginnings of drastically escalating climate chaos across the globe have thrown us on a path where ‘change’ will become the only constant. In this context, it is essential to look at candidates from a holistic angle. Candidates who have demonstrated extraordinary compassion and bravery to take up just but unpopular causes have already demonstrated their profound readiness for the ultimate leadership mantle.” -Taimur Malik, Climate Activist & Thought Leader

1st – JAY INSLEE: “The candidate that has done the best job is Inslee, who spoke about tackling climate change from a technological standpoint but who also mentioned climate justice as an important issue.” –Alejandra Echeverri, Ph.D. Candidate at the Institute For Resources, Environment, and Sustainability

2nd – ELIZABETH WARREN: “Warren has done a phenomenal job framing climate change as an issue of economic injustice, which is effective in part because environmental injustices often take root in economic disparity. Her three-part approach to climate change shows she’s serious about the issue and not just paying lip service.” –Ruby Rorty, ThinkOcean Global

3rd – BERNIE SANDERS: Sanders does the best job of approaching climate change holistically because he understands the scientific issues but also the economic and social causes and consequences behind it.” –Youth Activist Advisor

“There can be no compromise on climate action, putting the hard decisions off any longer will only cause more severe consequences.” –Owen Bidder, Post-Doctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley

“Recognizing the scientific evidence behind climate change is not enough, we need a president who will act now to create policies that will protect the rights of all people.” –Olivia Blondheim, EarthEcho International

“Climate change is potentially the biggest existential threat to us, and all humans, and it is in our power, as Americans, to mitigate the worst of its effects. The wealthy will not suffer like the poor. We must protect our vulnerable.” –Holly Peterson, Professor at the School of Public Policy, Oregon State University

“It is incredibly important that when a candidate is talking about sustainability and climate change, that they’re also discussing the need for climate risk management and resilience both locally and globally. We need to elect a candidate who is committed to preparedness and resilience funding and ensuring that we are better prepared to anticipate, respond, and thrive in the face of the climate shocks and stressors coming our way.” –Emily Wasley, Director of Corporate Sustainability and Climate Resilience at The Cadmus Group

It is the opinion of SEAL Awards that this season’s Democratic primary is shaping the national political conversation, and we have a clear need to keep those candidates in the debate who are shaping political dialogue for the better. Campaign donations are a tool to demonstrate whose ideas you want to see more of. It’s not only the amount that counts, but the number of individual donors is a key factor in determining whether a candidate will be invited to the debate stage.

For that reason, SEAL Awards advocates making donations in any amount to the Inslee, Warren, and Sanders campaigns as a means of signaling the importance of keeping candidates in the debate who take seriously the conversation about climate change.

Click here now to donate to Governor Jay Inslee’s 2020 Presidential Campaign

Click here now to donate to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 Presidential Campaign

Click here now to donate to Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2020 Presidential Campaign

Additionally, SEAL Awards recommends including a message with each donation letting the candidates know that you are donating in support of their continued discussion of climate change.

Owen Bidder, Post-Doctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley
Olivia Blondheim, Ph.D. Candidate, University of South Florida & Youth Council Member, EarthEcho International
Alejandra Echeverri, Ph.D. Candidate at the Institute For Resources, Environment, and Sustainability
Maddy Fernands, National Press Director, US Youth Climate Strike
Dishane Hewavithana, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Miami
Anna Grace Hottinger, Youth Climate Organizer, Fridays For Future & Minnesota Can’t Wait
Max Leveridge, Graduate Research Assistant, Miami University & Conservation Biologist Intern, National Park Service
Taimur Malik, Climate Activist & Thought Leader
Silvio Marcacci, Communications Director at Energy Innovation
Holly Peterson, Professor at the School of Public Policy, Oregon State University
Ruby Rorty, Undergraduate at University of Chicago & United States National Coordinator, ThinkOcean Global
Lamalani Siverts, Ph.D. Fellow, University of Akron
David Trimbach, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Oregon State University
Jack Vandeleuv, Kansas City Coordinator, Sunrise Movement
Emily Wasley, Climate Thought Leader
–Anonymous Advisor*, University of Georgia
–Anonymous Advisor*, University of Maine
–Anonymous Advisor*, Ph.D. Candidate & project manager for a public resource management organization
–Anonymous Advisor*, Ph.D. Candidate & former U.S. National Parks Service Research Assistant
–Anonymous Advisor*, Ph.D. Candidate & member of a prominent youth activist organization

*Note: Five of our advisors for this project requested anonymity, as they currently receive federal funding for their research and they are concerned about jeopardizing their work.

Note: “Best Candidates For Climate Change” Summary Scorecard: Greenpeace and League of Conservation Voters (LCV) have no affiliation with SEAL nor provided any input with respect to this environmental policy endorsement. Further, the LCV scores presented reflect lifetime ratings for each candidate. Warren’s 2018 LCV rating is 100. Sanders’ 2018 LCV rating is also 100. Inslee did not receive a 2018 rating from LCV.


The SEAL (Sustainability, Environmental Achievement & Leadership) Awards is an awards-driven environmental advocacy organization. 

Our core beliefs maintain that our environmental progress requires true leadership, leadership deserves recognition, and recognition is a form of accountability.

The SEAL Awards organizational pillars are: