Since there are no currently active contests, we have switched Climate CoLab to read-only mode.
Learn more at
Skip navigation
Share via:


A simple and bipartisan means of identifying electoral campaigns free of fossil fuel funding is sought.



Campaigns seeking affirmation as "F5" campaigns ("Free From Fossil Fuel Funds") would be required to sign a declaration.  That document would affirm, following due diligence inquiry, that the campaign would refrain from accepting donations from coal, oil and gas sources.  This would include a pledge to disown any Super Pac efforts which were generated by, or aligned with unidentified or dark money sources. Affirmative efforts to avoid fossil fuel funding benefits would be required. 

Is this proposal for a practice or a project?


What actions do you propose?

We propose to identify a bipartisan NGO willing to oversee the project and award green F5 logo status to campaigns, on a bipartisan basis, willing to taken the pledge to be an F5 campaign.  The League of Women Voters, or a reasonable facsimile, would be an illustration of such an organization.  Any prize money would be made available to such an organization to oversee this process. The process would operate as follows:

a) Pledges would be executed on an honor system.  These commitments would include a requirement that each eligible campaign would conduct a good faith examination to ensure that representatives or proxies of fossil fuel companies were not forwarding-and the campaign would not be accepting-donations.

b)The approval of campaigns for F5 designation would be made on a bipartisan basis. Eligible candidates would be encouraged to use a designated logo to show the absence of fossil fuel free funds in the campaign. The overseeing organization would be expected to pursue practices designed to assure that the approval of candidates was being impartially and correctly determined.



Who will take these actions?

The actions will be undertaken by bipartisan NGO with a reputation for fair play and impartiality. The NGO would be expected to assemble a brochure outlining the program and the procedure through which a candidate could secure an approval. Such an approval would include a license to use to designated logo within campaign communications, including written brochures. 

Where will these actions be taken?

This project will seek to walk before it runs.  In 2018, the proposal will be pursued in a single state (e.g., Arizona, Ohio or Pennsylvania) with special attention dedicated to congressional races. 

In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.

United States

Country 2

No country selected

Country 3

No country selected

Country 4

No country selected

Country 5

No country selected


What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

U.S. Presidential debates in 2015-16 within both parties included minimal references to climate change.  The current occupant of The White House was able to secure election following sixteen primary and general election debates without being asked a single climate change question by a debate moderator. Current policies being advocated by the American executive branch appear to be opposed by a majority of Americans (e.g., withdrawal from the Paris Agreement).  Fossil fuel funding of congressional campaigns often took place in 2016 without public recognition of the fossil fuel funding made available to candidates.  This practice was promoted by the decision in Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) which allowed vast sums to be invested toward elections without identification of the source.  

This proposal would require candidates to repudiate any financial assistance from fossil fuel sources and serve as a "stop gap" measure until structural changes could be made to the electoral landscape (e.g., modification of the Citizens United decision).


What are other key benefits?

The proposal is intended to promote a "branding" of candidates who decline fossil fuel funds.  Conversely, there should be a suggested identification of candidates whose funds are awash with fossil fuel monies.  The expectation-and hope-is that more informed climate change policy choices would be made by an electorate able to identify fossil fuel free campaigns.


What are the proposal’s projected costs?

Any prize monies would be made available to a complying NGO to offset administrative, legal and marketing expenses associated with the launch and operation of the effort.


This is intended to be, as stated, a stop-gap measure to offset the harm to the public good occasioned by the Citizens United decision.  It is hoped that this effort would not be required after the passage of 3 to 12 years. 

About the author(s)

Don Bayles and Jennifer Mott, lawyers with Aspey, Watkins and Diesel in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA.  

Related Proposals