Questions to Ask Candidates in the 2020 Election

Get candidates on the record and demand they put forward science-based solutions to the most life-threatening challenges of our time

Published Jun 18, 2019

Young woman speaking at public event

Two things threaten the very existence of humanity as we know it: nuclear weapons and global warming. One can kill millions in seconds, the other affects all life on the planet. At the same time, a relentless assault on science, truth, and justice is underway, with grave consequences for our health, our safety, and our democracy.  

Facing these challenges requires bold, science-based solutions—and the political will to tackle them. As candidates from both parties crisscross the country to connect with voters, hold town hall meetings, and attend debates, we must demand that they prioritize these issues and push forward the solutions we need to safeguard our future.

Questions for candidates

Here are some key questions you can ask during the 2020 campaign season to ensure that candidates stand up for science, and do so on the record:

Nuclear weapons are one of the largest threats facing humanity today. The detonation of even a small number of nuclear weapons could have devastating human, environmental, and economic consequences that could reverberate around the globe.

  • What is your plan to reform US nuclear weapons policy, reduce the size of the world’s nuclear arsenals, and work with other nations to reduce the very real risks they pose? And specifically, what’s your position on adopting a so-called “No First Use” policy stating that the United States will never use nuclear weapons first in a conflict against other countries? 

Extreme weather is increasingly threatening the safety of people across the country. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we have 12 years to make drastic cuts in global warming emissions if we are to avoid worse climate catastrophes and extreme weather events. 

  • Will climate action be a top priority once you take office? What is your plan to keep all Americans safe from a changing climate?

Transportation is now the largest source of global warming emissions in the United States. Ambitious action is urgently needed to reduce both global warming emissions and air pollution, which disproportionally impacts vulnerable communities. The current administration is now trying to weaken fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars and trucks designed to reduce climate emissions and cut oil use.

  • What’s your science-based plan to cut transportation pollution? What will you do to put us on a path to make vehicles go farther on a gallon of gas, electrify cars and trucks, and make our fuels cleaner?

Wind and solar installations make up more than half of all new electricity sources built over the past five years, demonstrating that renewable energy can deliver reliable and affordable power to millions of homes and businesses across the United States while reducing global warming emissions.

  • How will you support the accelerated deployment of renewable energy and ensure we modernize our outdated electricity grid to better accommodate the transition to clean energy?

The high costs of damages from extreme weather and other climate disasters are already being paid by taxpayers. As we now know, major fossil fuel companies have long known about the threat of climate change and yet they funded misinformation about climate science that was designed to confuse the public and block needed climate action. According to a recent poll, a majority of Americans believe fossil fuel companies should be held accountable.

  • Will you work to preserve the rights of communities, states, and other industries harmed by climate change to file lawsuits to make fossil fuel companies pay their share of the damages? 

The future of the US food supply, and much of rural America, is at risk. A perfect storm of dangerous conditions—degraded soil and water, repeated flood and drought disasters spurred by climate change, a rapidly aging farmer base, low prices for basic food goods, and increasing corporate consolidation of both farmland and food industries—has endangered the survival of many of the nation’s farms and surrounding communities. Many farmers today are just one tariff or natural disaster away from bankruptcy and farm loss, while at the same time, millions of Americans struggle to put healthy food on their families’ tables.

  • What is your plan to increase farmers’ resilience to climate change, address corporate consolidation in the food industry, revitalize rural communities, and protect the legacy of America’s farms and farmers?

Relentless attacks on science by the current administration and its corporate and political allies threaten everything from the safety of our food to the quality of the air we breath and water we drink. We rely on federal agencies to use science to keep us safe and healthy.

  • How will you support legislative solutions to safeguard scientific integrity and hold federal agencies accountable for ensuring science isn’t sidelined from the process of protecting public health, safety, and the environment?

Were you able to ask a candidate a question?

Please let us know about it! We can help amplify your work by holding candidates accountable for statements they’ve made while campaigning.

 As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the Union of Concerned Scientists does not support any candidate for office.  

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