"I think one of the dumbest statements I've ever heard in politics -- in the history of politics as I know it, which is pretty good, was Obama's statement that our No. 1 problem is global warming."

Not too hard to guess that it was the billionaire real estate mogul and former television reality star, Donald Trump, who said this.

Trump delivered that pronouncement back in November 2015 on the MSNBC program, Morning Joe.

It’s typical of Trump’s approach to climate change - and that of the Republican party’s in general.

As America’s primaries get underway, just how do the main candidates stack up on climate change?

On Twitter, Trump has been vocal about global warming, repeatedly calling it a hoax and bullshit.

One of his tweets in early November 2012 generated instant notoriety after it hit the Internet.

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” Trump tweeted. He later shrugged it off as a joke.

Trump's now infamous tweet. Source: Donald Trump's Twitter feed

But Trump’s attitude toward climate change is no laughing matter. On the website for his presidential campaign he doesn’t address the issue anywhere.

However, he’s made his views on the matter known elsewhere.

On the same Morning Joe program, Trump said, “I consider climate change to be not one our big problems. I consider it to be not a big problem at all. I think it’s weather. I think it’s weather changes.

“It could be some man-made something, but you know, if you look at China, they’re doing nothing about it. Other countries, they’re doing nothing about it. It’s a big planet.”

In early January, Trump called the carbon tax a scam, reported The Hill. He also took the time to snipe at Obama. “Watch Obama talking about the carbon footprint, and then he flies over Hawaii in an old 747 with the old engines spewing the hell out of it.”

And in early February, Trump was at it again, this time mocking Obama over his reluctance to bomb oil reserves Islamic radicals had seized because of concerns over the emissions that would result.

The Washington Examiner reported that Trump said, ”We actually have a case where we don't want to bomb the oil because we don't want to pollute the atmosphere. Can you imagine General Douglas MacArthur and General Patton [in World War II] saying we can't bomb because we're going to hurt the atmosphere?”

It’s tough to say whose views on climate change are more extreme: Trump’s or Calgary-born Ted Cruz’s.

In August, Time Magazine reported that Cruz said there’s no factual basis for scientists’ research on climate change and that government researchers are tampering with the data

“If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there’s been zero recorded warming. The satellite says it ain’t happening,” Time reported Cruz saying.

According to the magazine, Cruz then said of climate change scientists: “They’re cooking the books. They’re actually adjusting the numbers. Enron used to do their books the same way.”

Asked if he thought climate change wasn’t real, Cruz responded that the “data and facts don’t support it.”

At the time he was addressing an event that Charles and David Koch had organized, featuring 450 donors to the Republican Party.

Ted Cruz. Image courtesy of the Ted Cruz campaign

On his campaign website, like Trump, Cruz disregards climate change. Instead he talks about a “Great American Energy Renaissance” and states that “a President Cruz will approve the Keystone Pipeline and other similar infrastructures….”

The Republicans and Democrats couldn’t be any further apart when it comes to the issue of climate change.

A Republican president would likely scrap Obama’s Clean Power Plan and shift the money to fossil fuel energy projects.

Such an indication came in early February with the Supreme Court’s decision to call a halt to Obama’s climate change regulation while other legal challenges over the legislation are pending.

In 2015, the U.S.-based Pew Research Centre reported that only one-in-10 conservative Republicans say the Earth is warming due to human activity. By contrast, 78 per cent of liberal Democrats hold this view with other party and ideology groups falling in between.

The centre found a similar divide when it comes to a policy proposal to address climate change by setting stricter power plant emission standards. Fully 86 per cent of liberal Democrats favour such standards, compared with 34 per cent among conservative Republicans.

On the Democratic side of the presidential race, Bernie Sanders offers a comprehensive climate change plan that is endorsed by Bill McKibben, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, among others.

Bernie Sanders. Photo courtesy of Bernie Sanders campaign

Sanders’ website features an interactive map that shows state-by-state the benefits of making a transition to renewable energy.

At the top of his page on climate change, Sanders is blunt. “The scientists are virtually unanimous that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world.

“And, they tell us, if we do not act boldly the situation will only become much worse in years to come in terms of drought, floods, extreme storms and acidification of the oceans.”

Among his initiatives, Sanders calls for the reclamation of democracy from “the billionaire fossil fuel lobby;” an acceleration in the transition away from fossil fuels and an associated investment in clean and sustainable energy.

Sanders promises to ban fossil fuel lobbyists from working in the White House. “Massive lobbying and unlimited super PAC donations by the fossil fuel industry gives these profitable companies disproportionate influence on our elected leaders,” reads Sanders’ platform.

“This practice is business as usual in Washington and it is not acceptable. Heavy-handed lobbying causes climate change skepticism. It has no place in the executive office.”

He also intends to “bring climate deniers to justice” Notes Sanders: “It is an embarrassment that Republican politicians, with few exceptions, refuse to even recognize the reality of climate change, let alone are prepared to do anything about it.”

Vying against Sanders is Hilary Clinton, who also is maintaining a vigorous presence on the climate change front.

Like Sanders, Clinton affirms the reality of climate change while taking deniers to task. On her webpage, climate change is referred to as an “urgent threat and defining challenge of our time.”

Clinton promises to “slash” carbon pollution not only in the United States, but “around the world,” as the U.S. builds a clean energy economy.

Clinton vows her plan will deliver on Obama’s pledge at the Paris climate summit - “without relying on climate deniers in Congress to pass new legislation.”

Hilary Clinton. Photo courtesy of the Hilary Clinton campaign

The Clinton campaign promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent in 2025 relative to 2005 levels and put the country on a path to cut emissions more than 80 percent by 2050.

Her platform calls for “bold national goals” achieved within 10 years of the first day of her taking office. They include the installation of half-a-billion solar panels by the end of her first term; reducing American energy waste by a third; and reducing American oil consumption by the same amount.

Keep reading