Climate Forum Day 2 Highlights

Here is a quick recap of the highlights of Day 2 of the Climate Forum on Friday — five hours of candidate interviews and it even got bi-partisan by the end.  Two candidates — Booker and Buttigieg — made the argument in moral terms — referencing how future generations will judge us and how God will judge us if we fail to act now.  Former Governor Bill Weld talked about his love of trees and his disdain for President Trump.  Governor Steve Bullock said he was keeping his pick up truck and wanted to make climate change less of a partisan issue.  And Tom Steyer talked about his track record of success in actually getting things done at the state level winning ballot initiatives with his organization NextGen, and why he believes he can do the same at the federal level.

Why This Matters:  The entire 12-hour marathon of Climate Forum coverage by MSNBC set a high watermark (bad pun) for other news organizations covering climate change.  They also devoted two hours in prime time to climate change, as well as stationing correspondents to report in live from remote locations from Greenland to Guatemala.  Moderators Ali Velshi and Chris Hayes did both deep dives into the substance of candidate plans and also got the candidates to open up personally about what drives their interest in and passion for this issue.  MSNBC also sweat the details on the production of the Forum – with a visually beautiful set and fantastic live connections to students stationed at the University of Southern California, the University of New Hampshire, and Iowa State University in order to have student voices from coast to coast.  We hope other news organizations will at least meet this standard from now on.

More Highlights

  • Senator Cory Booker said, “History will judge us – did you stand for the planet or for what is convenient….this is a referendum on who we are and what we mean to each other.”
  • Booker also said, drawing a laugh from the crowd, “In God we trust, everyone else bring me data.”  He emphasized the importance of science and telling the truth about the climate crisis.
  • Booker drew the connection between health care and the climate crisis, “addressing health care means addressing the causes that force us to need health care — unhealthy food, polluting industries, polluted air, poisoned water.”
  • Governor Steve Bullock explained how he understands how hard it is to talk about climate change in a coal state like Montana, “it’s hard to worry about climate change when you don’t know how you are going to pay your bills today.”
  • Governor Bullock also stressed that he would restore the federal monuments that President Trump has shrunk drastically and would preserve public lands and not sell them off — “This is OUR land,” he said.
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg started by immediately with the moral responsibility to address climate change, “What greater sin than to blame God for something people are doing.”
  • Mayor Pete also explained the distinct roles of the government versus the private sector in addressing climate change with this analogy — “Think about it this way. The government invented the internet and Apple invented the iPhone.”
  • And he explained his sense of the scale of the problem, saying “I’m just not interested in plastic straws right now.  Lives are on the line.  I’m interested in carbon.”
  • Tom Steyer said, “America is the indispensable nation to solving the climate crisis….That is what we do.  We lead the world and we are up to it.”
  • And Tom Steyer promised to make climate legislation the first law he passes if elected President.
  • Governor Bill Weld said he would put a price on carbon saying, “It’s not a tax, it’s an investment to sustain life on this Earth.”
  • Governor Weld also declared the coal industry dead and “an anchor on the rest of the world” and said that “when thousands of scientist point to one thing, I am willing to go along with them.”

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