Here are the climate related excerpts from the ninth Democratic primary debate, that took place in Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday, February 19, 2020. The debate included Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg.
SANDERS: What our movement is about is bringing working-class people together, black and white and Latino, Native American, Asian American, around an agenda that works for all of us and not just the billionaire class. And that agenda says that maybe, just maybe, we should join the rest of the industrialized world, guarantee health care to all people as a human right, raise that minimum wage to a living wage of $15 bucks an hour, and have the guts to take on the fossil fuel industry, because their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet and the need to combat climate change.
BIDEN: It [climate change] is the existential threat humanity faces, global warming. I went out to tech — you have a facility where you have one of the largest, largest solar panel arrays in the world. And it’s — when the fourth stage is completed, it will be able to take care of 60,000 homes for every single bit of their needs. And what I would do is, number one, work on providing the $47 billion we have for tech and for — to making sure we find answers is to find a way to transmit that wind and solar energy across the network in the United States. Invest in battery technology. I would immediately reinstate all of the elimination of — of what Trump has eliminated in terms of the EPA. I would secondly make sure that we had 500,000 new charging stations in every new highway we built in the United States of America or repaired. I would make sure that we once again made sure that we got the mileage standards back up which would have saved over 12 billion barrels of oil, had he not walked away from it. And I would invest in rail, in rail. Rail can take hundreds of thousands, millions of cars off the road if we have high-speed rail.
BLOOMBERG: Well, already we’ve closed 304 out of the 530 coal-fired power plants in the United States, and we’ve closed 80 out of the 200 or 300 that are in Europe, Bloomberg Philanthropies, working with the Sierra Club, that’s one of the things you do….But let’s just start at the beginning. If you’re president, the first thing you do the first day is you rejoin the Paris Agreement. This is just ridiculous for us to drop out. Two, America’s responsibility is to be the leader in the world. And if we don’t, we’re the ones that are going to get hurt just as much as anybody else. And that’s why I don’t want to have us cut off all relationships with China, because you will never solve this problem without China and India, Western Europe, and America. That’s where most of the greenhouse… Let me just finish one other thing. I believe — and you can tell my whether this is right — but the solar array that the vice president is talking about is being closed because it’s not economic, that you can put solar panels in into modern technology even more modern than that.
WARREN: So, look, I think we should stop all new drilling and mining on public lands and all offshore drilling. If we need to make exceptions because there are specific minerals that we’ve got to have access to, then we locate those and we do it not in a way that just is about the profits of giant industries, but in a way that is sustainable for the environment. We cannot continue to let our public lands be used for profits by those who don’t care about our environment and are not making it better. Look, I’m going to say something that is really controversial in Washington, but I think I’m safe to say this here in Nevada. I believe in science. And I believe that the way that we’re going to deal with this problem is that we are going to increase by tenfold our investment in science. There’s an upcoming $27 trillion market worldwide for green. And much of what is needed has not yet been invented. My proposal is, let’s invent it here in the United States and then say, we invent it in the U.S., you’ve got to build it in the U.S. That’s a million new manufacturing jobs.
SANDERS: What I tell these workers is that the scientists are telling us that if we don’t act incredibly boldly within the next six, seven years, there will be irreparable damage done not just in Nevada, not just to Vermont or Massachusetts, but to the entire world. Joe said it right: This is an existential threat. You know what that means, Chuck? That means we’re fighting for the future of this planet. And the Green New Deal that I support, by the way, will create up to 20 million good-paying jobs as we move our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. This is a moral issue, my friends. We have to take the responsibility of making sure that the planet we leave our children and grandchildren is a planet that is healthy and habitable. That is more important than the profits of the fossil fuel industry.
KLOBUCHAR: I have made it very clear that we have to review all of the [fracking] permits that are out there right now for natural gas and then make decisions on each one of them and then not grant new ones until we make sure that it’s safe. But it is a transitional fuel. And I want to add something that really hasn’t been brought up by my colleagues. This is a crisis, and a lot of our plans are very similar to get to carbon neutral by 2045, 2050, something like that. But we’re not going to be able to pass this unless we bring people with us. I’m looking at these incredible senators from Nevada — Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen — and I’m thinking that they know how important this is. And you can do this in a smart way. One, get back into that international climate change agreement. Two, clean power rules, bring those back. And the president can do this herself without Congress, as well as the gas mileage standard. But when it comes to putting a price on carbon — this is very important, Chuck — we have to make sure that that money goes back directly as dividends to the people that are going to need help for paying their bills. Otherwise, we’re not going to pass it….So there has to be a heart to the policy to get this done.
WARREN: Yes. We can have a Green New Deal and create jobs. We need people in infrastructure who will help build. We have manufacturing…those jobs are for tomorrow. Those are the ones we need to be working on to harden our infrastructure right now. But listen to Senator Klobuchar’s point. She says we have to think smaller in order to get it passed. I don’t think that’s the right approach here.
Why can’t we get anything passed in Washington on climate? Everyone understands the urgency, but we’ve got two problems. The first is corruption, an industry that makes its money felt all through Washington. The first thing I want to do in Washington is pass my anti-corruption bill so that we can start making the changes we need to make on climate. And the second is the filibuster. If you’re not willing to roll back the filibuster, then you’re giving the fossil fuel industry a veto overall of the work that we need to do.
BIDEN: I’m willing to go as far as we have to [to hold oil and gas executives accountable]. First of all, I would eliminate all the subsidies we have for oil and gas, eliminate it, period. That would save millions and millions — billions of dollars. Number two, I think that any executive who is engaged — and by the way, minority communities are the communities that are being most badly hurt by the way in which we deal with climate change. They are the ones that become the victims. That’s where the asthma is, that’s where the groundwater supply has been polluted. That’s where, in fact, people, in fact, do not have the opportunity to be able to get away from everything from asbestos in the walls of our schools. I have a trillion-dollar program for infrastructure. That will provide for thousands and thousands of new jobs, not $15 an hour, but $50 an hour, plus benefits, unions, unions being able to do that. And what it does is, it will change the nature — look, here’s the last point I want — and my time is going to run out. Here’s the last point I want to make to you. On day one, when I’m elected president, I’m going to invite all of the members of the Paris Accord to Washington, D.C. They make up 85 percent of the problem. They know me. I’m used to dealing with international relations. I will get them to up the ante in a big way. What would I do [to these companies that are responsible for the destruction of our planet?] I would make sure they, number one, stop. Number two, if you demonstrate that they, in fact, have done things already that are bad and they’ve been lying, they should be able to be sued, they should be able to be held personally accountable, and they should — and not only the company, not the stockholders, but the CEOs of those companies. They should be engaged. And it’s a little bit like — look, this is the industries we should be able to sue. We should go after — just like we did the drug companies, just like we did with the tobacco companies. The only company we can’t go after are gun manufacturers, because of my buddy here. But that’s a different story…
BLOOMBERG: Well, you’re not going to go to war [to force China to reduce emissions]. You have to negotiate with them and try to — and we’ve seen how well that works with tariffs that are hurting us. What you have to do is convince the Chinese that it is in their interest, as well. Their people are going to die just as our people are going to die. And we’ll work together. In all fairness, the China has slowed down. It’s India that is an even bigger problem. But it is an enormous problem. Nobody’s doing anything about it. We could right here in America make a big difference. We’re closing the coal-fired power plants. If we could enforce some of the rules on fracking so that they don’t release methane into the air and into the water, you’ll make a big difference. But we’re not going to get rid of fracking for a while. And we, incidentally not just natural gas. You frack oil, as well. It is a technique, and when it’s done poorly, like they’re doing in too many places where the methane gets out into the air, it is very damaging. But it’s a transition fuel, I think the senator said it right. We want to go to all renewables. But that’s still many years from now. And we — before I think the senator mentioned 2050 for some data. No scientist thinks the numbers for 2050 are 2050 anymore. They’re 2040, 2035. The world is coming apart faster than any scientific study had predicted. We’ve just got to do something now.
BUTTIGIEG: Let’s be real about the deadline. It’s not 2050, it’s not 2040, it’s not 2030. It’s 2020. Because if we don’t elect a president who actually believes in climate science now, we will never meet any of the other scientific or policy deadlines that we need to. So first of all, let’s make sure we’re actually positioned to win, which, once again, if we put forward two of the most polarizing figures on this stage as the only option, it’s going to be a real struggle. Now, I’ve got a plan to get us carbon neutral by 2050. And I think everybody up here has a plan that more or less does the same. So the real question is, how are we going to actually get it done? We need leadership to make this a national project that breaks down the partisan and political tug of war that prevents anything from getting done. How do you do it? Well, first of all, making sure that those jobs are available quickly. Secondly, ensuring that we are pulling in those very sectors who have been made to feel like they’re part of the problem, from farming to industry, and fund as well as urge them to do the right thing. And then global climate diplomacy. I’m a little skeptical of the idea that convincing is going to do the trick when it comes to working with China. America has repeatedly overestimated our ability to shape Chinese ambitions. But what we can do is ensure that we use the hard tools…to enforce what has to happen…
WARREN: Yes, I want to make sure that the question of environmental justice gets more than a glancing blow in this debate…because for generations now in this country, toxic waste dumps, polluting factories have been located in or near communities of color, over and over and over. And the consequences are felt in the health of young African-American babies, it’s felt in the health of seniors, people with compromised immune systems. It’s also felt economically. Who wants to move into an area where the air smells bad or you can’t drink the water? I have a commitment of a trillion dollars to repair the damage that this nation has permitted to inflict on communities of color for generations now. We have to own up to our responsibility. We cannot simply talk about climate change in big, global terms. We need to talk about it in terms of rescuing the communities that have been damaged.
BUTTIGIEG: Nevada, I’m asking for your vote because America is running out of time and this is our only chance to defeat Donald Trump. If you look at the choice between a revolution or the status quo and you don’t see where you fit in that picture, then join us. And, yes, go to peteforamerica.com and help out, because we need to draw everybody that we can who believes that we need to empower workers, who believes in climate science, who believes in doing something about gun violence and recognizes that the only way we can do this is to create a sense of belonging in this country that moves us out of the toxic and polarized moment that we are living in today. I already see an American majority ready to do these things. Now we have a responsibility to galvanize, not polarize, that majority. We cannot afford to lean on the same Washington playbook. We cannot afford to alienate half the country. We must step forward into the future in order to win and in order to govern a country that will be facing issues the likes of which we barely thought of just a few years ago. I’m asking you to join me so that we can deliver that future together.
SANDERS: But the bottom line is, all of us are united in defeating the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country. That we agree on. But where we don’t agree, I think, is why we are today the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people, why three people own more wealth than the bottom half of America, when 500,000 people sleep out on the street, why hundreds of thousands of bright young kids can’t afford to go to college, and 45 million remain in student debt.
Climate Related Excerpts from the New Hampshire Democratic Debate (ABC News)
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Climate Excerpts from ABC News’ 3rd Democratic Presidential Debate
Climate Related Excerpts from the July 31st CNN Democratic Presidential Debate
Climate Related Excerpts from the July 30th CNN Democratic Presidential Debate
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References to Climate in the First Democratic Presidential Debate