Pete Buttigieg: 2020 Climate Forum


Despite worries about his small budget proposal to combat the climate crisis, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg wowed the packed Gaston Hall with his well-articulated and innovative plans. Throughout the conversation, Buttigieg noted the importance of his plans’ outcomes, not the amount of money that he would allocate to them. It appeared that every cent of his $1.5 trillion climate plan would be used to fund programs that attack climate change from every angle. Buttigieg articulated his proposal of $200 billion to fund environmental tech development, including the creation of an American Cleantech Fund, a Clean Energy Bank, and a Global Investment Initiative. These investment funds would finance local, global, and experimental green technology research and development, respectively.

Buttigieg also stressed the importance of holding the private sector accountable for their contributions to the climate crisis. He said that the government needs to stop subsidizing corporations that continue to use practices that harm the environment. Moreover, he stated that he is in favor of adding a carbon tax and dividend that would incentivize both corporations and consumers to favor products that have a low carbon footprint. 

Understanding the complexity of enforcing regulations on companies in a world of increasing globalization, Buttigieg also recognized the need for global climate diplomacy. He expressed his desire to establish international climate norms through more worldwide climate meetings like the G7 Summit.

Alongside his private sector plans, Buttigieg also has an abundance of human-centric programs meant to keep in mind the needs of the people who would be affected by the climate crisis and the fight to combat it. Buttigieg showed his support for communities currently affected by climate change through his Natural Disaster Insurance Program and a Disaster Preparedness Commission, designed to streamline the process of getting aid to those who need it. He acknowledged the likely influx of climate refugees in the coming decades and said that he would do everything he could to prevent the issue from worsening, but emphasized that he  would not turn people away. Additionally, Buttigieg underscored the importance of supporting disadvantaged communities within the U.S. who have been affected by environmental injustice, which would be one facet of racism addressed by his Douglass Plan. Furthermore, he stressed the support that would be given to Americans whose livelihoods will be disrupted by his plans. The transition to clean energy would provide an abundance of job opportunities – both in brand new fields and in traditional labor-based sectors. He also promised that health and retirement buyouts would be given to fossil-fuel industry workers who are unable to make the transition to clean energy jobs. Between his mindfulness for the American people and his dedication to holding corporations accountable for their climate sins, Buttigieg demonstrated how he believes the nation can fight for its future without breaking the bank.

GREEN Analysis, Genevieve Domenico

Mayor Pete Buttigieg stated during the Climate Forum that he supported a carbon tax. The idea of a carbon tax as the primary method of limiting climate change is commonly supported by many economists. However, many conservatives voters consistently oppose the tax. He also expressed his idea to have a national service program, the U.S. Climate Corps for high school. This is particularly interesting and may be useful in tapping into the high amount of youth that increasingly consider climate change as a pressing issue. Overall, his opinions at the forum generally follow his previously stated beliefs about climate change policy.