Despite voicing increased concerns over climate change, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are turning to private planes to aid tight schedules amid President Trump’s impeachment hearing.
In a presidential election primary – while candidates would normally focus on campaigning before the Iowa caucuses on February 3 – the senators are currently stuck in Washington, D.C. amid the Senate impeachment trial. Being short on time makes commercial travel more difficult, the Associated Press noted.
Sanders is expected to take a private plane to Iowa over the weekend to campaign while the Senate trial is in recess, according to the Associated Press. Warren is also considering air travel, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said she has not ruled it out. Only Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has said he will be flying using commercial airlines.
Both Sanders and Warren have been forerunners on the topics of climate change: both have released statements about climate change and both support the Green New Deal. Transportation emissions are the largest part of climate-damaging emissions from the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Air travel makes up three percent of all carbon emissions worldwide.
In his action plan for climate change, Sanders said he was “committed to reducing emissions throughout the world, including providing $200 billion to the Green Climate Fund, rejoining the Paris Agreement and reasserting the United States’ leadership in the global fight against climate change.” Warren also highlighted emissions in her climate change plan, saying that she supported 100 percent clean buildings, vehicles, and electricity.
Sanders campaign was also the first to announce that it would provide carbon offsets, doing so in March and spending around $9,000 on them throughout September. Carbon offsets are donations to environmental groups dedicated to reducing the effects of emissions.
Sanders spent at least $377,000 on private flights through September. Warren spend at least $190,000 over the same time period.
Sanders was also criticized by former campaign aides for Hillary Clinton for frequently requesting a private jet while working for the Clinton campaign.
Still, some climate activists are unbothered by presidential candidates chartering jets, saying that having a climate-conscious president would outweigh the short-term costs.
“If you’re a presidential candidate running to try to beat Donald Trump, who is a climate denier to his bones, and that requires you to move around the country … you should do that,” Leah Stokes, a professor and researcher into climate and energy politics at the University of California-Santa Barbara, told the AP. The candidates “can’t just hop a speedy train to Iowa,” Stokes added.
Meanwhile, Tom Steyer – the billionaire hedge fund manager and environmentalist – said he flies commercial.
Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]
Photos “Elizabeth Warren” and “Bernie Sanders” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.