Georgia

Georgia

A campsite at Red Top Mountain, Georgia.
Photo: Derek Van Dam

Georgia is among a collection of southern states that is set to experience detrimental effects from climate change, including flooding, drought, sea level rise and submerged low lands. Forests cover about half of the state of Georgia, and prolonged drought, which brings about insects and disease, could have significant negative effects on the ecosystem.

Outdoor recreation is a huge economic driver in the state of Georgia, with residents enjoying great access to hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking, kayaking and whitewater rafting. In fact, according to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation accounts for 238,000 jobs, $27.3 billion in consumer spending and $1.8 billion in state and local tax revenue in Georgia. The aforementioned increase in drought, fiercer hurricane seasons and coastal erosion and flooding all threaten the outdoor playgrounds in the state of Georgia.


Check Out Our Special Georgia Community Screening of Purple Mountains


The two upcoming Senate runoff elections in Georgia is crucial toward moving forward on a federal climate agenda. While the issue of climate change may not be front and center in the runoff election on January 5, the race will help determine Senate control and could open the door for the passage of important climate legislation moving forward.

Meet the Candidates in the Georgia Runoff Election

JON OSSOFF (DEMOCRAT)

BIO:

Jon Ossoff is the CEO of an investigative journalism company which works with reporters to create documentaries about corruption in foreign countries. Ossoff ran a shockingly close but unsuccessful campaign in the 2017 special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district. Ossoff believes in taking bold steps to reduce emissions and protecting Georgia from climate change. His platform calls for “massive investment in clean energy, energy efficiency and environmental protection.”

RENEWABLE ENERGY:

Ossoff supports investing in infrastructure, including money for clean energy, energy efficiency, and other technologies that reduce carbon emissions. “We can meet our energy needs without destroying the environment — but only by rapidly transitioning to clean energy sources, dramatically reducing carbon emissions, and increasing energy efficiency.” 

Ossoff has called for the United States to re-enter the Paris Climate Accords, and would like to see them strengthened moving forward.

Ossoff says he’ll work to make Georgia America’s leading clean energy-producing state. He says, “when we win the Senate and the White House, we will have a historic opportunity to chart a new course for our economy, to save our environment, to bring commerce and human economic activity into harmony with the planet and to make the kinds of transformative and revolutionary investments that will lay the foundations for centuries of prosperity and sustainability.”

PUBLIC LANDS:

Ossoff does not include any specific statements on public land issues, but he does say he will push for fast advances in sustainability, including “strongly enforced treaties to protect oceans and fisheries, aggressive protection of endangered species and habitats, increased fines for spills and contamination, and stricter controls on toxic chemicals.”

ELECTRIFYING TRANSPORTATION:

While Ossoff does not include any transportation electrification issues as a part of his campaign platform, he does say he will work to reverse rollbacks of fuel economy standards, then strengthen them to further reduce carbon emissions.

CARBON PRICING: ❓

Ossoff does not include any climate or energy issues as a part of his campaign platform and POW AF researchers could not find instances in published media or in the public record of the candidate expressing views on this issue.

DAVID PERDUE (REPUBLICAN)

BIO:

Senator David Perdue is the senior senator of Georgia, was first elected in 2014 and is running for reelection. Perdue is the former vice president of Reebok and former CEO of Dollar General. In a debate earlier this year, Perdue said he recognizes the climate is changing, but refused to acknowledge human activity is causing the changes.

RENEWABLE ENERGY:

Perdue opposed the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan introduced in 2015. Perdue applauded President Trump’s dismantling the Obama-era regulations on coal-fired power plants.

Perdue criticized the Obama administration’s renewable energy policies saying, instead wanting to “unleash our energy resources.” 

Perdue is a staunch supporter of President Trump’s energy plan, stating, “Energy projects like the Keystone Pipeline will generate jobs and inject new life into our economy… I look forward to working together [with President Trump] to make our country more energy independent.”

PUBLIC LANDS:

Senator Perdue believes that the federal government should make it easier for companies to explore and develop the American energy sector by decreasing the amount of red tape involved in permitting or leasing federal land for such products.

Senator Perdue has been an advocate for the Keystone XL pipeline and those like it, saying, “For years, it’s been clear the Keystone Pipeline would have jump-started the economy, helped lower energy costs for families and created good-paying jobs. President Obama’s politically motivated decisions put special interest groups and his liberal climate agenda ahead of working middle-class families, and today’s decision to reject Keystone is no different. I will continue to fight to grow our economy and unlock our nation’s full energy potential.”

ELECTRIFYING TRANSPORTATION: ❓

Perdue does not include any electric transportation issues as a part of his campaign platform and POW AF researchers could not find instances in published media or in the public record of the candidate expressing views on this issue.

CARBON PRICING:

Purdue called the Obama era Clean Power Plan a “carbon tax” and praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s blocking of its implementation. Purdue said, “This energy tax will cost thousands of American jobs and prevent future capital investment.

Perdue served on Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy Corporation’s board from 2001-2014. He sat on the environmental and safety committee while the corporation was voicing support for the implementation of a cap-and-trade system. When asked about his position on cap-and-trade during his first Senate run in 2014, a campaign spokesman said he had no role in the company’s cap-and-trade position or its day-to-day operations.

Meet the Candidates in the Georgia Special Election

REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (DEMOCRAT)

BIO:

Reverend Raphael Warnock is the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Martin Luther King Jr.’s former congregation. Wanting to follow in the footsteps of Dr. King, Warnock attended Morehouse College then earned a Master of Divinity, Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy from Union Theological Seminary, a school affiliated with Columbia University. Warnock believes we have a moral obligation to find solutions to climate change and for the “stewardship of our children’s planet.”

RENEWABLE ENERGY:

Warnock is committed to transitioning to a clean economy by 2050.

Warnock supports working toward a clean energy economy that will create jobs and reduce pollution. 

Warnock recognizes that clean energy is one of the fastest-growing sources for new, good-paying jobs. He will push for those most affected by the changing climate to have access to clean energy job training programs.

Warnock believes in preparing Georgia’s coastline for rising sea-levels with investments in green infrastructure. 

PUBLIC LANDS: ❓

Warnock does not include any language on public lands as part of his campaign platform and POW AF researchers could not find instances in published media or in the public record of the candidate expressing views on this issue.

ELECTRIFYING TRANSPORTATION:

Warnock does not include any language on electrification of transportation specifically as part of his campaign platform. 

That being said, he does believe in setting goals for carbon reduction and strict climate standards for the transportation sector. 

Warnock says he believes in reducing carbon emissions from the transportation sector by investing in clean infrastructure and public transportation.

CARBON PRICING: ❓

Warnock does not include any language on carbon pricing as part of his campaign platform and POW AF researchers could not find instances in published media or in the public record of the candidate expressing views on this issue.

Warnock does support rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement.

KELLY LOEFFLER (REPUBLICAN)

BIO:

Senator Kelly Loeffler is the junior senator of Georgia. Loeffler was appointed in December 2019 to replace former Senator Johnny Isakson who resigned for health reasons. Loeffler is a former energy executive and strongly aligns herself with President Trump, often touting her “100% Trump” voting record. Loeffler rarely talks about climate change and has not made it part of her campaign platform or legislative agenda during her twelve months in office.

RENEWABLE ENERGY: ❓

Loeffler does not include any language on renewable energy as part of her campaign platform and POW AF researchers could not find instances in published media or in the public record of the candidate expressing views on this issue.

While she makes no mention of her support or opposition to renewable energy, POW AF researchers felt it important to point out that Loeffler was appointed to the Georgia Power Board of Directors. Georgia Power delivers power to Georgians via a mix of sources, including renewables. 

Loeffler does not support the Green New Deal.

PUBLIC LANDS: ❓

Loeffler does not include any language on public lands as part of her campaign platform and POW AF researchers could not find instances in published media or in the public record of the candidate expressing views on this issue.

Loeffler has not sponsored or cosponsored any public lands legislation.

ELECTRIFYING TRANSPORTATION:

In May of 2020, Loeffler announced a $1.8 million grant for the Chatham Area Transit to purchase zero-emission electric buses. Loeffler said she was “glad to see CTA receive this grant which will help purchase three new zero-emission buses that will improve reliability and reduce pollution.”  

No other instances of support or opposition to electric vehicles and EV infrastructure were found by POW AF researchers.

CARBON PRICING:

Loeffler does not include any language on carbon pricing as part of her campaign platform and POW AF researchers could not find instances in published media or in the public record of the candidate expressing views on this issue.

While she herself has not made any statements on the issue, Loeffler’s former company, Intercontinental Exchange, Inc., where she served as vice president of communications and investor relations, lobbied for the implementation of a cap-and-trade system.