Here is a full transcript of the climate related questions and commentary from the second and final debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. The debate took place on Thursday October 22 at Belmont University in Tennessee and was moderated by Kristen Welker.
Kristen Welker: (12:41) Gentlemen, we’re running out of time so we got to get onto climate change, please. You both have very different visions on climate change. President Trump, you say that environmental regulations have hurt jobs in the energy sector, Vice President Biden, you have said you see addressing climate change as an opportunity to create new jobs. For each of you, how would you both combat climate change and support job growth at the same time? Starting with you, President Trump, you have two minutes uninterrupted.
Donald Trump: (13:08) So, we have the trillion trees program, we have so many different programs, I do love the environment, but what I want is that cleanest crystal clear water, the cleanest air. We have the best lowest number in carbon emissions, which is a big standard that I noticed Obama goes with all the time, not Joe, I haven’t heard Joe use the term because I’m not sure he knows what it represents or means, but I have heard Obama use it. And we have the best carbon emission numbers that we’ve had in 35 years under this administration, we are working so well with industry, but here’s what we can’t do. Look at China, how filthy it is, look at Russia, look at India, it’s filthy, the air is filthy. The [Paris Accord 00:00:13:55], I took us out because we were going to have to spend trillions of dollars and we were treated very unfairly.
Donald Trump: (14:03) When they put us in there, they did us a great disservice, they were going to take away our businesses. I will not sacrifice tens of millions of jobs, thousands and thousands of companies because of the Paris Accord, it was so unfair. China doesn’t kick in until 2030, Russia goes back to a low standard, and we kicked in right away, it would have been… It would have destroyed our businesses. So, you ready? We have done an incredible job environmentally, we have the cleanest air, the cleanest water, and the best carbon emission standards that we’ve seen in many, many years.
Kristen Welker: (14:41) Vice President Biden-
Donald Trump: (14:41) And we haven’t destroyed our industries.
Kristen Welker: (14:44) Vice President Biden, two minutes to you uninterrupted.
Joe Biden: (14:47) Climate change, global warming is an existential threat to humanity. We have a moral obligation to deal with it. And we’re told by all the leading scientists in the world we don’t have much time, we’re going to pass the point of no return within the next 8 to 10 years. Four more years of this man eliminating all the regulations that were put in by us to clean up the climate, to clean up… To limit the emissions, will put us in a position where we’re going to be in real trouble. Here’s where we have a great opportunity. I was able to get both all the environmental organizations as well as the labor, the people worried about jobs, to support my climate plan.
Joe Biden: (15:32) Because what it does, it will create millions of new good paying jobs, we’re going to invest in, for example, 500,000… Excuse me, 50,000 charging stations on our highways so that we can own the electric car market of the future. In the meantime, China is doing that. We’re going to be in a position where we’re going to see to it that we’re going to take 4 million existing buildings and 2 million existing homes and retrofit them so they don’t leak as much energy, saving hundreds of millions of barrels of…
Joe Biden: (16:03) So they don’t leak as much energy saving hundreds of millions of barrels of oil in the process and creating significant number of jobs. By the way, the whole idea of what this is all going to do, it’s going to create millions of jobs and it’s going to clean the environment. Our health and our jobs are at stake. That’s what’s happening and what right now, by the way, Wall Street firms indicated that my plan, my plan will in fact, create 18.6 million jobs, 7 million more than his. This is from Wall Street and I’ll create $1 trillion more in economic growth than his proposal does. Not on climate, just on economy.
Kristen Welker: (16:41) President Trump, your response.
Donald Trump: (16:42) They came out and said very strongly $6,500 will be taken away from families under his plan, that his plan is an economic disaster. If you look at what he wants to do, if you look at his plan, his-
Donald Trump: (16:57)… his environmental plan, do you know developed it? AOC plus three, they know nothing about the climate. I mean, she’s got a good line of stuff, but she knows nothing about the climate and they’re all hopping through hoops for AOC plus three. Look, their real plan cost a hundred trillion dollars. If we had the best year in the history of our country for a hundred years, we would not even come close to a number like that. When he says buildings, they want to take buildings down because they want to make bigger windows into smaller windows. As far as they’re concerned, if you had no window, it would be a lovely thing.
Donald Trump: (17:32) This is the craziest plan that anybody has ever seen and this wasn’t done by smart people. This wasn’t done by anybody. Frankly, I don’t even know how it can be good politically. They want to spend a hundred trillion dollars. That’s their real number. He’s trying to say it was six. It’s a hundred trillion dollars. They want to knock down buildings and build new buildings with little, tiny, small windows and many other things-
Kristen Welker: (17:57) Okay.
Donald Trump: (17:57) And many other things. And many other things.
Kristen Welker: (17:58) Okay, let me have the vice-president respond.
Donald Trump: (17:58) It is crazy.
Kristen Welker: (17:59) We’re running out of time and we have a lot more questions to get back to.
Donald Trump: (18:01) You’ll destroy our country.
Kristen Welker: (18:02) So let’s hear from the vice president. I have a number of more question..
Joe Biden: (18:07) I don’t know where he comes from. I don’t know where he comes up with these numbers.
Joe Biden: (18:09) A hundred trillion dollars, give me a break. This plan has been endorsed by every major, every major environmental group and every labor group, labor, because they know the future lies. The future lies in us being able to breathe and they know they’re good jobs and getting us there.
Joe Biden: (18:29) By the way, the fastest growing industry in America is the electric, excuse me, solar energy and wind. He thinks wind causes cancer, windmills. It’s the fastest growing jobs and they pay good prevailing wages, 45, 50 bucks an hour. We can grow and we can be cleaner if we go the route I’m proposing.
Kristen Welker: (18:54) President Trump-
Donald Trump: (18:55) Excuse me.
Kristen Welker: (18:55) Please respond and then I have his follow up.
Donald Trump: (18:56) We are energy independent for first time. We don’t need all of these countries that we had to fight war over because we needed their energy. We are energy independent. I know more about wind than you do. It’s extremely expensive. Kills all the birds. It’s very intermittent. It’s got a lot of problems and they happen to make the windmills in both Germany and China and the fumes coming up, if you’re a believer in carbon emission, the fumes coming up to make these massive windmills is more than anything that we’re talking about with natural gas, which is very clear.
Donald Trump: (19:29) One other thing, solar-
Joe Biden: (19:31) Find me a scientist who says that.
Donald Trump: (19:31) I love solar, but solar doesn’t quite have it yet. It’s not powerful yet to really run our big, beautiful factories that we need to compete with the world.
Joe Biden: (19:42) False.
Donald Trump: (19:42) It’s all a pipe dream, but you know what we’ll do? We’re going to have the greatest economy in the world, but if you want to kill the economy, get rid of your oil industry you want. And what about fracking?
Kristen Welker: (19:54) Let me-
Donald Trump: (19:54) Now we have to ask him about fracking.
Kristen Welker: (19:56) Let me allow the Vice President Biden to respond.
Joe Biden: (19:57) I never said I oppose fracking.
Donald Trump: (20:00) You said it on tape.
Joe Biden: (20:02) Show the tape, put it on your website.
Donald Trump: (20:04) I’ll put it on.
Joe Biden: (20:05) Put it on the website. The fact of the matter is he’s flat lying.
Kristen Welker: (20:09) Would you rule out about banning fracking?
Joe Biden: (20:11) I do rule out banning fracking because the answer we need, we need other industries to transition, to get to ultimately a complete zero emissions by 2025. What I will do with fracking over time is make sure that we can capture the emissions from the fracking, capture the emissions from gas. We can do that and we can do that by investing money in doing it, but it’s a transition to that.
Kristen Welker: (20:38) I have one more question in this pile then-
Donald Trump: (20:40) Excuse me. He was against fracking. He said it. I will show that to you tomorrow.
Joe Biden: (20:45) Good.
Donald Trump: (20:45) I am against fracking. Until he got the nomination, he went to Pennsylvania. Then he said, “But you know what Pennsylvania?” He’ll be against it very soon because his party is totally against it.
Joe Biden: (20:54) Fracking on federal land. I said, no fracking and/or oil on federal land.
Kristen Welker: (20:59) Let me ask this final question in this section and then I want to move on to our final section. President Trump, people of color are much more likely to live near oil refineries and chemical plants. In Texas, there are families who worry the plants near them are making them sick. Your administration has rolled back regulations on these kinds of facilities. Why should these families give you another four years in office?
Donald Trump: (21:21) The families that we’re talking about are employed heavily and they are making a lot of money, more money than they’ve ever made. If you look at the kind of numbers that we’ve produced for Hispanic, for Black, for Asian, it’s nine times greater the percentage gain than it was under in three years than it was under eight years of the two of them to put it nicely, nine times more.
Donald Trump: (21:48) Now somebody lives, I have not heard the numbers or the statistics that you’re saying, but they’re making a tremendous amount of money. Economically, we saved it and I saved it again a number of months ago, when oil was crashing because of the pandemic. We saved it.
Donald Trump: (22:04) Say what you want to bet relationship. We got Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Russia to cut back, way back. We saved our oil industry and now it’s very vibrant again and everybody has very inexpensive gasoline. Remember that.
Kristen Welker: (22:17) Vice President Biden, your response and then we’re going to have a final question for both of you.
Joe Biden: (22:21) My response is that those people live on what they call fence lines. He doesn’t understand this. They live near chemical plants that in fact, pollute, chemical plants and oil plants and refineries that pollute.
Joe Biden: (22:33) I used to live near that when I was growing up in Claymont, Delaware and there are more oil refineries in Marcus Hook and the Delaware River than there is any place, including in Houston at the time. When my mom get in the car and when there are first frost to drive me to school, turning the windshield wiper, there’d been oil slick in the window. That’s why so many people in my state were dying and getting cancer. The fact is those frontline communities, it’s not a matter of what you’re paying them. It matters how you keep them safe. What do you do? You impose restrictions on the pollutions that if the pollutants coming out of those fence line communities.
Kristen Welker: (23:07) Okay. I have one final question called.
Donald Trump: (23:08) Would he close down the oil industry?
Kristen Welker: (23:10) It falls-
Donald Trump: (23:10) Would you close dow the oil industry?
Joe Biden: (23:12) By the way, I have a transition from the old industry, yes.
Donald Trump: (23:15) Oh, that’s a big statement.
Joe Biden: (23:15) I will transition. It is a big statement.
Donald Trump: (23:17) That’s a big statement.
Joe Biden: (23:18) Because I would stop.
Kristen Welker: (23:19) Why would you do that?
Joe Biden: (23:21) Because the oil industry pollutes, significantly.
Donald Trump: (23:24) Oh, I see. Okay.
Joe Biden: (23:24) Here’s the deal-
Donald Trump: (23:25) That’s a big statement.
Joe Biden: (23:26) Well if you let me finish the statement, because it has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time, and I’d stopped giving to the oil industry, I’d stop giving them federal subsidies. You won’t get federal subsidies to the gas, oh, excuse me to solar and wind.
Donald Trump: (23:45) Yeah.
Joe Biden: (23:46) Why are we giving it to oil industry?
Donald Trump: (23:47) We actually give it to solar and wind. That’s maybe the biggest statement. In terms of business, that’s the biggest statement.
Kristen Welker: (23:53) Okay.
Donald Trump: (23:53) Because basically what he’s saying is-
Kristen Welker: (23:55) We have one final question, Mr. President.
Donald Trump: (23:55)… he is going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania, Oklahoma?
Kristen Welker: (24:03) Okay, Vice President Biden, let me give you 10 seconds.
Kristen Welker: (24:03) Okay.
Donald Trump: (24:03) Remember that Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, is-
Kristen Welker: (24:03) Vice President Biden, let me give you 10 seconds to respond-
Donald Trump: (24:04) Ohio.
Kristen Welker: (24:05)… and then I have to get to the final question. Vice President Biden.
Joe Biden: (24:07) He takes everything out of context, but the point is, look, we have to move toward net zero emissions. The first place to do that by the year 2035 is in energy production, by 2050 totally.
Kristen Welker: (24:21) All right. One final question to both of you-
Donald Trump: (24:22) Is he going to get China to do it?
Kristen Welker: (24:23) No, we’re finished with this-
Donald Trump: (24:23) Is he going to get China to do it?
Kristen Welker: (24:24) We have to move onto our final question.
Joe Biden: (24:25) No, I’m going to rejoin Paris Accord and make China abide by what they agreed to.
Kristen Welker: (24:30) All right. This is about leadership, gentlemen. And this first question does go to you, President Trump. Imagine this is your inauguration day. What will you say in your address, to Americans who did not vote for you? You’ll each have one minute, starting with you, Mr. Trump.
Joe Biden: (24:47) We have to make our country totally successful, as it was prior to the plague coming in from China. Now we’re rebuilding it and we’re doing record numbers, 11.4 million jobs in a short period of time, et cetera. But, I will tell you, go back.
Joe Biden: (25:01) Before the plague came in, just before, I was getting calls from people that were not normally people that would call me. They wanted to get together. We had the best Black unemployment numbers in the history of our country. Hispanic, women, Asian, people with diplomas, with no diplomas, MIT graduates; number one in the class, everybody had the best numbers. And you know what? The other side wanted to get together. They wanted to unify.
Joe Biden: (25:28) Success is going to bring us together. We are on the road to success. But I’m cutting taxes, and he wants to raise everybody’s taxes and he wants to put new regulations on everything. He will kill it. If he gets in, you will have a Depression, the likes of which you’ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell, and it’ll be a very, very sad day for this country.
Kristen Welker: (25:49) All right. Vice President Biden, same question to you: what will you say during your inaugural address to Americans who did not vote for you?
Joe Biden: (25:57) I will say, I’m an American President. I represent all of you, whether you voted for me or against me, and I’m going to make sure that you’re represented. I’m going to give you hope. We’re going to move; we’re going to choose science over fiction. We’re going to choose hope over fear. We’re going to choose to move forward because we have enormous opportunities, enormous opportunities to make things better.
Joe Biden: (26:19) We can grow this economy, we can deal with the systemic racism. At the same time, we can make sure that our economy is being run and moved and motivated by clean energy, creating millions of new jobs. That’s the fact, that’s what we’re going to do. And I’m going to say, as I said at the beginning, what is on the ballot here is the character of this country. Decency, honor, respect. Treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance. And I’m going to make sure you get that. You haven’t been getting it the last four years.