Voters Need to Know About Project 2025

Drafted by The Heritage Foundation, the agenda would “institutionaliz[e] Trumpism” and dismantle US climate policy

Steam rises from the Miller coal Power Plant in Adamsville, Alabama. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds via Getty Images)

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Denying climate science. Repealing the Inflation Reduction Act, the most ambitious climate law in US history. Drilling in the Arctic wilderness. These policies could become a reality, depending on how Americans vote in November.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden all but locked up their parties’ respective presidential nominations on Tuesday night, sending the country toward a déja vu election echoing 2020. But in 2024, the time remaining to avoid climate breakdown is even shorter; scientists say global emissions must fall rapidly over the next five years. Therefore, who voters put in charge of the White House (and Congress and state governments across the country) matters enormously. Yet polling shows that most Americans know very little about the respective climate records of Trump and Biden and the vastly different climate futures they portend.

That knowledge gap is something journalists are uniquely situated to remedy.

Climate Beat has written often about Biden’s climate record and future plans, and we’ll have more to say about them in weeks to come. This week, we focus on Trump’s.

Four months after assuming the presidency in 2017, Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. He went on to champion coal, oil, and gas production while killing or weakening scores of federal environmental regulations. On the 2024 campaign trail, he has repeatedly said that, if re-elected, he will “drill, baby, drill.”

A more detailed vision of the climate implications of a second Trump presidency is found in Project 2025, a plan compiled by The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank funded partly by the oil billionaire Charles Koch. Kevin D. Roberts, Heritage’s president, has said that he does not believe that Biden won the 2020 election and that the goal of Project 2025 is “institutionalizing Trumpism.”

Project 2025 lays out sweeping plans to overhaul all aspects of the federal government, none less so than climate policy. “The plan calls for shredding regulations to curb greenhouse gas pollution from cars, oil and gas wells and power plants, dismantling almost every clean energy program in the federal government and boosting the production of fossil fuels,” The New York Times’s Lisa Friedman reported. The Trump campaign did not respond to Friedman’s request for comment, but several of the plan’s architects, she wrote, “are veterans of the Trump administration, and their recommendations match positions held by” the former president.

Project 2025 aims to purge the “climate fanaticism” that, the report charges, pervades the federal government under Biden. In addition to repealing the IRA, the Project urges closing the Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office, which the IRA authorized to spend $400 billion to supercharge the country’s transition away from fossil fuels. The Project also calls on the State Department to “rescind all climate policies from its foreign aid programs” and “cease its war on fossil fuels in the developing world,” and it endorses withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, which Biden rejoined when he became president. Offering a more polished articulation of Trump’s “drill, baby, drill,” the Project asserts that “America’s vast reserves of oil and natural gas are not an environmental problem; they are the lifeblood of economic growth.”

If this is the kind of climate policy America’s voters want, that is their right in a democracy. But voters can only make that decision if they first understand what a second Trump term actually would deliver. Making that clear is our job as journalists.

From Us

En español. CCNow’s weekly newsletter, Climate on the Ballot, which helps journalists integrate climate into their reporting, is available in Spanish. See this week’s edition about climate tipping points, in English and Spanish. Sign up to receive it every Monday morning.

See you in two. The Climate Beat will be off next week and back on Thursday, March 21. Since we’re talking about time: In the US, we’ll be moving our clocks forward by an hour on Sunday, March 10.

Noteworthy Stories

Disclosure rule. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has approved a scaled-back climate rule that will require large publicly traded firms to disclose some greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks to investors. Some claim the rule is overreach, while others say it “paves the way for greenwashing.” By Dharna Noor at the Guardian…

Enron, anyone? A series of Ohio criminal investigations and convictions of utility executives, lobbyists, and politicians is the latest in a “generational resurgence of fraud and corruption in the utility sector,” according to a Floodlight News investigation. The malfeasance, which has cost utility customers billions of dollars in Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, and South Carolina, comes as utilities heavily invest in clean energy. By Mario Ariza and Kristi E. Swartz for Floodlight News…

Mum on climate. The North Carolina governor’s race hinges on a choice between Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, a Republican climate denier, and Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein, who champions clean energy. Despite the urgent need for climate action to tackle local impacts, including stronger storms, coastal flooding, and more, both candidates have largely avoided discussing the issue. By Daniel Shailer at Inside Climate News…

  • CCNow encourages reporters to proactively engage candidates on their climate plans. Many politicians won’t bring up climate change themselves.

US coastal flooding. Thirty-two coastal US cities are sinking, which can worsen flood risks due to sea-level rise, according to a new study published in Nature. The researchers emphasized the need for local policies that strengthen infrastructure, citing “inadequate” mitigation efforts thus far. By Julia Jacobo at ABC News…

Oil to solar. In the Ecuadorian Amazon, Indigenous communities who have long opposed oil development, are embracing solar power to transform their lives amidst their oil-rich surroundings. Solar power is lighting homes, powering boats, fostering eco-tourism, and connecting residents to the outside world. By Isabel Alarcon and Misha Vallejo Prut at The Washington Post…

Exit interview. “I don’t understand how average folks all around the world are letting people get away with all this business as usual,” said outgoing US climate envoy John Kerry, referring to the lack of climate action. Kerry, who is stepping down this week, spoke about “shocking” oil and gas profits, why he’s “pissed off and frustrated” by the fossil fuel industry’s propaganda, and why he’s confident that the public will learn about the IRA. By David Wallace-Wells for The New York Times…

Via YouTube

Yale Climate Communications is taking on the zombie “myths about climate change that just won’t die.”

Reports & Events

Global heating. A new Climate Central study finds that “roughly 80% of Earth’s population, 6.7 billion people, were exposed to unusual warmth linked to climate change” from December 2023 – February 2024.

Climate diet. Jenny Splitter, editor-in-chief of Sentient Media, writes about the false idea that eating local is a climate solution and examines what a “climate-friendly diet” might look like.

Harassment. The National Press Club Journalism Institute is holding a webinar, “Online Harassment & Privacy Protections.” March 8. RSVP.

Oceans. The Pulitzer Center is holding a webinar, “How To Use Ocean Data for Journalism.” March 12. RSVP.

Carbon markets. Carbon Pulse and the We Mean Business Coalition will discuss the results of a new survey of executives and managers on “voluntary carbon markets in corporate climate action.” March 13. RSVP. 

Business action. Clean Energy Wire is holding an in-person event in Berlin, Germany, titled “Climate capitalism and a fair transition – How can business fix the climate crisis without wrecking democracy.” March 18. RSVP.

Cotton. A Growing Culture is holding a press forum on “Reimagining Cotton: Stories from Benin, Brazil, India.” March 19. RSVP. See the media toolkit, “Cotton at the Source.”

Climate funding. The International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, will livestream a session with media funders about the importance of supporting climate news. April 4.

Local Story Ideas

Stories on our radar that local journalists can consider for their own audiences:

  • Talk to people switching from oil and gas to heat pumps like The New York Times did. Heat pump adoption is rising, and nine states are “teaming up to accelerate” that rate.
  • Take inspiration from The Washington Post and explain how “smart panels” work. Smart panels can help households manage the electrical load as homes increasingly switch to electrical devices, including installing EV chargers.
  • Examine how this year’s winter was different from historical trends, as WHYY did for Philadelphia. A new Climate Central report looks at the impact of climate change on temperatures this winter and daily temperature anomalies in 247 US cities.

Industry News

Avoiding burnout. Burnout is widespread in journalism, according to research by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. Four-day workweeks, remote work, and valuing journalists’ work are identified as potential solutions.

Indian heatwave coverage. A team of researchers examined how Indian media covered the 2022 heatwave in that country, which was made 30 times more likely due to climate change, according to World Weather Attribution. The report includes three common mistakes that journalists around the world make when covering extreme weather events.

Jobs, Etc. 

Jobs. Carbon Pulse is hiring a feature writer/sub-editor and a Latin America–based environmental markets correspondent. CBS News is recruiting a director, weather operations and strategy (New York City). The Gecko Project is hiring an investigations editor, preferably located in the UK or Indonesia. The Midwest Newsroom is hiring an investigative editor based in the US Midwest. The New York Times is recruiting a senior editor for its weather team. Politico is looking for a food and agriculture reporter (Arlington, Va.). Project Drawdown is hiring several part-time research fellows (remote).

Fellowships. The McGraw Fellowships for Business Journalism will fund “a high-impact environmental story” that follows the money. Apply by March 31. Applications are open for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Environmental Solutions Journalism Fellowships. Apply by April 28.

Awards. Applications are open for The 2024 Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communications, given by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Apply by March 31.

Doc funding. Bloomberg Green Docs is accepting submissions for its contest awarding $25,000 to filmmakers on short documentaries that address the urgency of climate change. Apply by April 26