The first Democratic debates are happening next week and while candidates are going to be asked about a full spectrum of issues, our hope (like that of many in our community) is that the topic of climate change action will be a prominent topic during both evenings. Senator Brian Schatz’s tweet this week served as a great road map for how the presidential hopefuls might address the issue in their answers. If you read his entire thread, the senator makes the point that people have to come first and that “climate action cannot be about birds and the butterflies. It cannot be the cause of conservationists and coastal elites. It is about saving unions, farms, fisheries, and factories. The best candidate on climate will have solutions that directly benefit people.” This is key, as climate change affects every single American in some capacity and any solution to combat it must focus on people in tangible ways–as most winning policy ideas do.

Why This Matters: In the 2016 presidential cycle, climate change was hardly discussed both in official forums and on the campaign trail. Democrats thought that it was a losing tactic to focus on climate change but as we’ve seen, it matters HOW candidates talk about it. Every American–regardless of political ideology–wants clean air and water as well as to live without the increasing fear of monster storms, deadly heat, and raging wildfires that claim entire towns. Democrats have an immense opportunity to show to the American electorate that a just and equitable future where polluters don’t get a free pass to poison the public is attainable through action on climate change. We hope all the candidates at the debate take Sen. Schatz’ advice!

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