The Politics of Climate Have Changed and Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock’s Victory Secures Pro-Climate Senate Majority
Washington, D.C. – Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock’s victories have delivered President-elect Joe Biden a pro-climate Senate majority that must take immediate, bold action to confront the climate crisis.
Ossoff and Warnock’s odds-defying win is the latest sign that the politics of climate have changed. Following historic turnout in November, voters once again showed up in record numbers for Ossoff and Warnock’s pro-climate agenda, delivering a clear mandate to act on climate.
“Climate was on the ballot in Georgia and once again voters chose science and bold action over denial and inaction. Georgia turning blue twice after a year where the consequences of the climate crisis devastated the state is no coincidence. Voters across the state issued a mandate for Ossoff and Warnock to join the U.S. Senate as pro-climate champions who will bring about real action to combat the threat of climate change while rebuilding the economy and creating good-paying clean energy jobs in Georgia,” said Climate Power 2020 Executive Director Lori Lodes. “With the Senate now in Democratic control, Ossoff and Warnock will play a critical role in building back better and making Biden’s bold climate vision a reality.”
This sea change of climate voters in Georgia comes in a year in which millions of Georgians felt the full wrath of the climate crisis in their daily lives. Between the record hurricane season, a global pandemic, and economic uncertainty, Georgians faced the impacts of the climate crisis on their health and safety.
Climate action played an outsized role in the political debate throughout 2020. Both Ossoff and Warnock emphasized the urgency and severity of the climate crisis throughout their campaigns. In a debate, Ossoff said, “The health of the environment is vital to our own health, prosperity, and security. In the Senate, I’ll make energy and environmental policy on the basis of scientific evidence — not lobbying by polluters.” Warnock made a moral argument for climate action, saying, “As a person of faith, I can think of nothing more important than honoring and protecting the only home we’ve been blessed with, for ourselves and our children.”
The importance of taking immediate, bold climate action is among the reasons voters rejected David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who failed to offer a plan to address the climate crisis during their time in office. By siding with the Trump administration and voting against climate proposals, Perdue and Loeffler fought harder to support Big Oil than to defend Georgians’ right to clean air, clean water, and public lands.
Ossoff made plans to combat climate change a key pillar of his campaign:
- Ossoff has recognized the impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector.
- He supports a massive investment in clean energy to power the transition from carbon-emitting energy production.
- Ossoff was endorsed by the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.
- Climate change was a key topic during the senatorial debate where Ossoff drew attention to how the climate crisis was impacting Georgians. In the runoff debate, Ossoff again spoke about the climate crisis and emphasized the opportunity for Georgia to lead in clean energy jobs.
Warnock made plans to combat climate change a key pillar of his campaign:
- In March 2019, he hosted an interfaith meeting on climate change at Ebenezer Baptist with former Vice President Al Gore and Reverend William Barber II.
- Warnock supports massive investments in transitioning the economy to net-zero emissions by 2050 — and focusing those investments in communities of color.
- Warnock wants to “rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and build upon the international commitment to fighting climate change.”
- In the runoff debate, Warnock showcased his vision for rebuilding the economy by investing in clean energy, which would modernize infrastructure and create millions of good-paying union jobs.
Senators-elect Ossoff and Warnock will join Democratic Senators from across the country who leaned into bold climate action and saw their commitments rewarded by voters, including Senators Gary Peters, Mark Kelly, and John Hickenlooper. In 2020, a coalition of younger Americans, Black, Brown, and Indigenous individuals, and Republican-leaning women have emerged as climate voters — and it will be a requirement for all elected leaders to campaign aggressively on climate action to earn their support.
And Biden won the presidency in a landslide election after putting climate front-and-center during his campaign — even calling climate change one of the most urgent crises of our lifetimes. Since his election, Biden has signaled his administration will take a government-wide approach to climate action with a focus on creating good-paying clean energy jobs.