Mr. Kerry said while individual members might personally promote specific climate policy proposals, like a tax on carbon dioxide pollution, or the Green New Deal, the coalition is not aimed at promoting any particular plan.
“We’re not going to be divided going down a rabbit hole for one plan or another,” he said.
The Green New Deal envisions addressing climate change and income inequality in tandem, with a federal job guarantee and federal mandates like ensuring the country’s power and electricity systems run entirely on renewable energy by 2030. The Sunrise Movement, a climate activist group that promotes the Green New Deal, has been critical of global warming efforts that do not embrace that vision, but its leaders held their fire on Mr. Kerry’s group.
Some members of Mr. Kerry’s coalition hold positions that many in the environmental movement oppose, like support for natural gas as a transition fuel from coal.
Combustion of natural gas emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal and 30 percent less than oil, and its expansion is widely credited for helping the United States curb emissions in the past decade. It also produces methane, a fast-acting greenhouse gas with enormous short-term impacts on the climate.
United Nations scientists have said the world needs to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030, and must eliminate them by 2050 to limit warming to relatively safe levels. To do that, the United States would need to phase out all fossil fuels, including gas, as rapidly as possible.
Mr. Kasich said in an interview that he believed in finding a consensus among Americans to tackle climate change, and saw a solution in both putting a price on carbon and increasing the research, development and deployment of renewable energy. He also said natural gas would continue to play a part, especially gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which has brought jobs to his state.
“If I’ve got to sign up to be an anti-fracker, count me out,” Mr. Kasich said.
Katie Eder, founder of The Future Coalition, a network for youth-led organizations that helped organize climate strikes around the country in September, supports the Green New Deal and is a member of Mr. Kerry’s coalition. She said people who cared about climate change needed to look past their differences.
“While I may be disagreeing with some of the things that other folks involved in World War Zero believe, that doesn’t mean we can’t work together,” she said. “Collaboration is our key to survival.”