Yesterday South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced his candidacy for President of the United States at a former Studebaker automobile plant in South Bend, Indiana. I (Miro) got a chance to be there in person and listen in on how Mayor Buttigieg would address the urgency of climate change in his remarks. He devoted a sizeable portion of his speech to the issue and framed action on climate change as responding to an urgent national security threat, calling it a “life and death issue for our generation.” And while other parts of the speech didn’t explicitly refer to climate change, Buttigieg’s line that Americans will need the “courage to reimagine our future” evoked the personal and political will it will require to transition from our current way of life to that of a low-carbon future.

Read Pete Buttigieg’s full remarks on climate change from his announcement speech: 

“And let’s pick our heads up to face what might be the great security issue of our time, climate change and climate disruption. No region of this country is immune to that threat. We’ve seen it in the floods in Nebraska, the tornados in Alabama, the Hurricane in Puerto Rico and the fires in California.

We saw it right here in this city, where as mayor, we had to fire up the operations center– emergency operations center of our city twice in two years.

First came a thousand year rainfall and then came a 500 year river flood. Eighteen months apart. By my math, the chances of that happening is about 125,000 to one.

So either we should all be going down to Four Winds later to try to recreate those odds on the slots to, or something else is changing around us.

And we’re not even having a contest over whose climate plan is better, because only one side has brought forth any plans at all.

You don’t like our plans on climate… fine. Show us yours!

Our economy is on the line. Our future is on the line. Lives are on the line. So let’s call this what it is, climate security, a life and death issue for our generation. Freedom. Security. And now let’s talk about democracy. Because no issue we care about, from gun safety to immigration, from climate to education to paid family leave, will be handled well unless our democracy is in better shape.”

Why This Matters: Climate is the greatest threat facing humanity and we need the candidates vying for the Presidency to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem and give the American people a plan to drastically reduce our carbon emissions. Mayor Buttigieg is certainly not the first Democratic contender to acknowledge climate change in his announcement–US Senator Amy Klobuchar also gave more than the typical pre-canned lines during her announcement speech and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee is running an entire campaign centered on climate change. Speaking of Inslee, check out his interview on Meet the Press yesterday where he connected how climate change is pertinent to every other voting priority for Americans, like immigration. All in all, we need more discussion and more ideas on how our federal government will meet the challenge of decarbonization and green job creation.

(A special thanks to the Buttigieg campaign for inviting Our Daily Planet to cover the announcement and stay tuned for some special content from the event next week!)

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