6 Tough Questions Needing Answers at Tonight’s Democratic Presidential Debate


From Pope Francis’ historic visit and climate advocacy to President Obama’s groundbreaking Clean Power Plan, momentum for climate action and an economy powered by clean energy is building at a rapid pace. Just last week, Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF—the world’s most important international economic institution), called action on climate change a “macro-critical” issue that will determine the long term stability and vitality of all countries around the world.

The good news is that the world is acting and in a big way. China just joined the U.S. in leading the way forward on climate with historic commitments to curbing its carbon pollution and installing huge amounts of wind and solar. More than 151 countries, including more than 100 developing countries, have submitted plans for cutting and limiting their carbon pollution and ramping up clean energy.

As the Democratic party chooses its next nominee for president, action on climate and climate-smart policies, advocacy for the booming clean energy economy and ensuring we all have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink will be top priorities—and must be top topics of discussion. Recent polling shows that more than eight-in-ten registered voters nationwide (84 percent) favor “taking action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy in the U.S.,” including 72 percent of Republican voters and even 68 percent of self-identified conservative Republican voters. It is important that candidates address these issues and that debate moderators, including CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Juan Carlos Lopez, ensure these key issues are highlighted through debate questions.

These are some of the issues Sierra Club and our millions of members and supporters will be looking for the candidates to provide more detailed views and leadership on:

1. The Clean Power Plan & Beyond

The Clean Power Plan is the single most important action any president has ever taken to address the climate crisis. The plan implements the first ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants and will help America reduce our carbon pollution by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. As a result, it will help prevent up to 6,600 deaths and up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children every year. The next president must ensure that we actually achieve these reductions through strong enforcement while putting in place even stronger climate and clean air protections as our progress advances.

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