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Media Puff Piece: Fighting Climate Change Could Define Kamala Harris’ Vice Presidency


Kamala Harris represents a series of historic firsts—she will be the first woman vice president, the first Black vice president, and the first Asian American vice president. She’ll also be the first-ever vice president who has devised a comprehensive plan to address climate change—and as the tie-breaking vote in the evenly split Senate, she’ll have plenty of opportunity to fight for the environment.

Harris’ home state of California has been hammered by longer wildfire seasons, blackouts from extreme heat, and drought. Harris doesn’t shy away from connecting these events to manmade climate change. When I sat down with her in Dubuque, Iowa, a year before she joined the presidential ticket, she was still in the midst of her own presidential campaign. “For me this issue of the climate crisis relates to every aspect of what we do,” she said.


Her remarks to me in October 2019 captured some of the themes that are starting to define the Biden administration’s all-hands-on-deck approach to the climate crisis: It’s not something the Environmental Protection Agency can address alone. “Every branch has a role in this responsibility.”


Harris’ climate plan didn’t get much attention during her presidential run, but it was impressive: Her vision of the Green New Deal included a staggering economic investment in clean energy and infrastructure. She spoke about the importance of including low-income and communities of color in the fight against pollution and climate change; her Climate Equity Act, introduced first in 2019 with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2019, requires that any environmental legislation receive an equity score to assess its impact on frontline communities.