Climate Change And Environment Get Little Time In Democratic Debate – Again

 

Photo: Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

Two hours, ten candidates, four moderators, and less than 10 minutes of serious discussion of climate change in the Democratic Debate last night.  Only four of the ten candidates were asked a direct question or given a chance to provide a significant follow-up response on the issue that most agree is an “existential crisis” and the “#1 Priority” of several of the candidates.  Amazingly, during the debate, Tom Steyer tweeted or retweeted more than 10 times on climate change and sustainability, literally forcing it into the discussion about the debate on social media.

Why This Matters:  Two questions and ten minutes are not enough time to discuss the existential crisis of our time. Period.

What They Said in a Nutshell:

Only Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer were asked a climate question directly.  Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were able to address climate head-on as well.  The other candidates had to weave it into answers to other questions.  Only Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren mentioned it in their closing statements — the one chance each candidate to talk about the issues that matter most to them.  Amy Klobuchar, Corey Booker and Kamala Harris did not have the chance to talk about climate change at all.

  • Andrew Yang complemented Tom Steyer for his decade of work on climate change.
  • Tom Steyer said that climate change would be his #1 Priority as President — both as a matter of foreign and domestic policy — and that he would create millions of well paid, union jobs by fighting climate change, and in his closing re-emphasized the point that climate change is our biggest challenge and our biggest opportunity to recreate our country.
  • Tulsi Gabbard talked about the importance of clean air and clean water for all Americans and about transitioning from a fossil fuel economy to a sustainable one.
  • Pete Buttigieg said that farms and the agricultural sector could make a huge contribution to fighting climate change.
  • Elizabeth Warren mentioned that we could use the military budget as a way to fight climate change, and in her closing wrapped climate change into her anti-corruption argument for her candidacy, saying we need to end the fossil fuel companies’ stranglehold on our government.
  • Joe Biden said he too would make climate change the #1 issue of his Presidency because it is an existential threat and cited his experience in passing the first climate legislation and implementing renewable energy in the Obama stimulus package.
  • Bernie Sanders stuck to his climate message of urgency — that we only have a decade to turn things around — and that we have to end the corruption of political money from fossil fuel companies and their lies and greed.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Club Political Committee unveiled its first political television ad of the 2020 cycle. The ad, which focuses on solar industry employees in Georgia, highlights the “green economy,” which now employs nearly 9.5 million Americans generating $1.31 trillion in annual revenue and the need for a president who understands all it contributes.

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