In the first Democratic presidential debate climate was a major topic of discussion. This carried over into the second debate. At the beginning of the debate Savannah Guthrie made it clear that climate change was on the agenda, however, the debate on climate was confounded by the confusion
of moderator Chuck Todd who did not seem to understand the difference
between climate mitigation and climate action.
Although there were points of disagreement, all the Democratic presidential contenders appeared to agree that Donald Trump is a racist who panders to dictators. They also appeared unified in their desire to see him voted out of office. As Biden said, “it is important we restore the soul of this nation. This President has ripped it out.” The record-setting television audience for the second debate suggests that many voters are interested in exploring alternatives to the current commander-and-chief.
Some of the presidential hopefuls spoke about the need to address gun violence, corruption, gerrymandering and women’s rights. Sen. Michael Bennet touched on the important issue of Republican obstructionism when he said, “Gridlock will not magically disappear as long as Mitch McConnell is there [controlling the Senate]” Bennet also said that he would prioritize climate change.
Marianne Williamson spoke about environmental issues as health issues. “What we need to talk about is why so many Americans have
unnecessary chronic illnesses so many more compared to other countries
and that gets back into not just the big Pharma, not just health
insurance companies, it has to do with chemical policies, it has to do
with environmental policies,” Williamson said.
Harris talked about recommitting to the Paris Agreement
and supporting a Green New Deal. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
talked about an inclusive approach that includes the energy industry. Sen. Bernie Sanders mirrored Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s comment in the
first debate when he said he wants to “take on the fossil fuel”
industry, he also spoke about the need to address special interests. Biden cited the role the Obama Administration played in brokering
the Paris Agreement and promised to strengthen the country’s
international climate commitments.
Here are climate related excerpts of the second Democratic presidential debate organized by subject matter.
JOE BIDEN: And new science and technology to be the exporter not only of the green economy, but economy that can create millions of jobs. But, I would immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. I would up the ante in that accord, which it calls for because we make up 15 percent of the problem; 85 percent of the world makes up the rest. And so, we have to have someone who knows how to corral the rest of the world, bring them together, and get something done like we did in our administrator…I think you’ve so underestimated what Barack Obama did. He’s the first man to bring together the entire world, 196 nations to commit to deal with climate change immediately.
Economy (Green New Deal)
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON: –We are going to turn from a dirty economy–To a clean economy, we’re going to have a green new deal, we’re going to create millions of jobs, we’re going to do this within the next 12 years because I’m not interested in just winning the next election…[for] our grandchildren.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think that the bottom line is, if we don’t clearly
define that we are not socialists, the Republicans are going to come at
us every way they can and–and call us socialists. And if you look at
the Green New Deal, which I admire the sense of urgency and how
important it is to do climate change, I’m a scientist…
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: I would do a collaborative approach to
climate change and I would pronounce it well before the election to make
sure we don’t reelect the worst president in American history…We
attack climate change with the toughest methane regulations in the
KAMALA HARRIS: Well, first of all I don’t even call it climate change. It’s a climate crisis. It represents an existential threat to us as a species. And the fact that we have a President of the United States who has embraced science fiction over science fact will be to our collective peril. I visited while the embers were smoldering the wildfires in California I spoke with firefighters who were in the midst of fighting a fire while their own homes were burning. And on this issue it is a–it is a critical issue that is about what we must do to confront what is immediate and before us right now. That is why I support a Green New Deal. It is why I believe on day one and as President will re-enter us in the Paris agreement because we have to take these issues seriously and frankly, we have a President of the United States we talked about you asked before what is the greatest national security threat to the United States? It’s Donald Trump. And I’m going to tell you why. And I’m going to tell you why because I agree climate change represents an existential threat. He denies the science. You want to talk about North Korea, real threat in terms of nuclear arsenal but what doe she do? He embraces Kim Jong Un a dictator.
ERIC SWALWELL: Here’s a solution. Pass the torch. Pass the torch to the
generation that’s going to feel the effects…This is a generation that
will end climate chaos…If we’re going to solve the issues of climate
chaos, pass the torch.
ANDREW YANG: I would pass a $1,000 freedom dividend for every American adult starting at age 18. Which would speed us up on climate change because if you get the boot off of people’s throats they’re (INAUDIBLE) climate change much more clearly…we need to cooperate with them [China] on climate change, AI, and other issues, North Korea.
PETE BUTTIGIEG: We’ve got to fix our democracy before it’s too late. Get
that right and climate, immigration, taxes and every other issue gets
Urgent need for climate action
PETE BUTTIGIEG: I am running because the decisions we make
in the next three or four years are going to decide how the next 30 or
40 go and when I get to the current age of the current President in the
year 2055 I want to be able to look back on these years and save my
generation delivered climate solutions, racial equality and an end to
endless war. Help me deliver that new generation to Washington before
it’s too late.
BERNIE SANDERS: Look, the old ways are no longer relevant. The scientists tell us we have 12 years because there’s irreparable damage to this planet. This is a global issue. What the president of the United States should do is not deny the reality of climate change, but tell the rest of the world that instead of spending $1.5 trillion on weapons of destruction, let us get together for the common enemy and that is to transform the world energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency, and sustainable energy…The future of the planet rests on us doing that.