In 2009, the Obama administration’s environmental team called a group of climate activists to the White House to deliver a message: Climate change doesn’t sell and only provokes economic attacks from the right that are too difficult to counter.
As Joseph R. Biden Jr. prepares to assume the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, the changing climate is now a core campaign issue — and a focus for fund-raising. Plans for tackling rising global temperatures will be in the spotlight Wednesday at the Democratic convention. And Mr. Biden has raised more than $15 million in candidate contributions from hundreds of new donors who specifically identify with climate change as a cause.
That climate-specific fund-raising may make up just about 5 percent of the total he has raised so far. It’s dwarfed by fossil fuel donations to President Trump, who took in $10 million from a single fund-raiser in June, held by the oil billionaire Kelcy Warren, and whose super PAC, America First Action, has seen millions pour in from coal and oil moguls, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign donations.
It is not known how much unregulated money is going to super PACs aligned with Democrats from other self-identified climate donors.
But the hard money climate donations represent a growing counterweight to oil, gas and coal money that has long warped the energy conversation in Washington. Self-identified “climate donors” are a new phenomenon in the 2020 election and are working overtime to show candidates that campaigning to eliminate emissions from fossil fuels pays — in cash.