350 Action's endorsement of both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic presidential primary made waves in the climate community.
By Tamara Toles O'Laughlin and May Boeve
Our first presidential endorsement is the culmination of a year of political organizing and campaign work that included the 2020 climate test, endorsements for state and local race elections, and campaign trail activism. It’s a departure from what 350 is known for — high stakes mobilizations and iconic fossil fuel fights — but felt like a natural next step in our campaign to support a Green New Deal.
In crafting an endorsement of not one but two voices we intended to acknowledge the years of visionary work of real climate champions and to make an honest statement about the work ahead. There is tension in the progressive movement over the pace of change and how we can and must transition to a livable future. Over the past ten years we have taken to the streets and demanded an end to the era of fossil fuels. Now that call to action is on the agenda of every serious actor pushing for change in the next generation. On the eve of Super Tuesday we made an endorsement in support of the climate agenda. And we acknowledge that there are some in the field that embody the seriousness, tackle corporate power, and put in the work to reconnect the climate crisis to sister movements for justice as an exercise of good faith heading into the general election.
350 supports Bernie Sanders as a lifelong climate advocate and champion for the power of mobilization aimed squarely at the fight for sweeping structural change, and 350 supports Elizabeth Warren because the future requires a systemic understanding and rigor that isn’t shy about making a critical race analysis and can apply it in real time to the climate crisis as it unfolds.
Sanders stands up for people power and economic justice that takes our humanity into account, from his plans for healthcare to student loans and migrant justice. Warren has demonstrated a fluid capacity to tie stagnant infrastructure to bold ideas. In her latest plans she has spoken explicitly to the need to do more than just break up the bad banks and to build a new world alongside impacted peoples for 2030 and beyond.
Through our endorsement we are signaling to the country what sort of world we want to be apart of: a world that lifts up the power of people and questions the systems that delivered us to the breakdown of this political moment. A world that brings an end to convenience at the cost of oppressive policy, finance, and relationships. In our endorsement we are supporting the power of feminist (not gendered) leadership and a broad and nuanced movement for justice that has influenced the field to respond to the needs of those most impacted by systemic injustice.
We have chosen to endorse both of them knowing that voters can only mark one name on a ballot. Why? Both of these candidates would be phenomenal choices, and in a crowded field, speaking up for what distinguishes them was important to us. Their platforms, approach and commitment to climate justice are similar enough to one another, and different enough from the other candidates and we wanted to make that point clear. Both passed the 350 Action Climate Test early on, and have continued to speak compellingly and without wavering on the climate fight at every opportunity.
As we cross the divide from primaries to the general election either candidate would be up to the task, with the demands of the future on their agenda. We will of course support whomever gains the nomination, and will urge progressives to unify against the Trump agenda.
May Boeve is executive director of 350.org, and Tamara Toles O’Laughlin is the organization's North American director.