Gary Peters’ Victory Proves The Politics Of Climate Have Changed, Michiganders Want Climate Action

Washington, D.C. — Gary Peter’s victory shows the politics of climate have changed.

This sea change comes in a year in which millions of Michiganders felt the full wrath of the climate crisis in their daily lives. Between the state’s record-breaking flooding, a global pandemic, and economic uncertainty, Michiganders faced the impacts of the climate crisis on their health and safety this year – spurring voters to support pro-climate action candidates in Michigan and across the country.

“Climate was on the ballot and Michiganders chose to continue taking bold steps to address the climate crisis. In his second term, Senator Peters will continue moving Michigan towards a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future by investing in clean energy and listening to science. Tonight, Voters across the state issued a strong mandate for a pro-climate champion to rebuild the economy while combating the threat of climate change,” said Meghan Schneider, a spokesperson for Climate Power 2020. 

Climate action played a key role in the political debate throughout 2020. Peters emphasized the urgency and severity of the climate crisis throughout his campaign, running an ad that touts his effort to protect the Great Lakes. He has also been outspoken about the climate crisis, environmental justice issues, and Great Lake erosion.

The importance of taking immediate, bold climate action is among the reasons voters rejected John James, who failed to offer a plan to address the climate crisis during his campaign. Instead, James took a hardline, saying he was 2000% behind President Trump’s administration.

Peters made combating climate change a key pillar of his campaign, while James questioned the science and provided no plans of his own: 

  • Peters was outspoken about the financial toll of climate change, saying, “Catastrophic weather events have cost the federal government and in turn the American taxpayer, roughly half a trillion dollars in disaster assistance alone.”
  • Peters has said the “Senate must come together to pass real concrete policies that will help mitigate climate change and ween us from our dependence on fossil fuel.”
  • Peters has worked on bipartisan efforts “to advance clean energy and lower greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • James is a climate skeptic who has questioned the science of man-made climate change. In 2018, James said the jury was “still out” on human impact on the “natural phenomenon” of global warming.

The climate crisis played a significant role in the race as Peters put James on defense for siding with the Trump administration’s climate denial.

  • Peters won despite significant outside spending from Republican groups. The Senate Leadership Fund ran an ad titled the “Green New Deal” in Flint, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing, which falsely attacked Gary Peters for support of the Green New Deal.
  • Pro-climate groups and the Peters campaign put climate change, energy, and conservation at the forefront of their communications with voters, spending nearly $8 million in the final weeks of the election on broadcast ads focused on climate issues. 

Ad totals are based on figures from Advertising Analytics covering September 1, 2020 to November 3, 2020.