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By Kaitlin Grable
1. The media still isn’t addressing climate change in a way that matches the urgency of the problem.
Despite years of record-breaking extreme weather, the climate crisis usually gets minor mentions when mainstream news comments on climate-linked disasters or Trump's pro-fossil fuel rhetoric. Climate change shouldn't be a footnote — it should be center stage.
Holding a climate-focused debate will ensure that the climate crisis is treated as a serious issue to address, not an opinion to be questioned.
It would push the candidates to specifically address how they will tackle one of the biggest challenges of our lifetime, and give us all the ability to make an informed choice on who will lead us into an era of bold climate action that's accountable to communities.
2. We need bold, visionary leaders to beat Trump in 2020.
We've spent more than two years resisting a racist and destructive Trump agenda. With daily attacks on our values and freedoms, this administration has attempted to divide us and wear us down. But people power has given us a record number of women in Congress, voting rights restoration in Florida, and the beginnings of an ambitious Green New Deal. This is just the start. Now we need presidential candidates that will look beyond the status quo and reimagine what's possible.
The next president should have the guts and vision to move us toward a safer, healthier, and more prosperous future where we reject the politics of fear and exclusion — while directly confronting how corporate polluters tarnish our air, our water and our climate without repercussions.
It's not the time for half-measures if we want to beat Trump. For decades, the bar on climate policy has been incredibly low. If a politician says they believe in man-made climate change, they've been lauded as progressive on climate. Agreeing with nearly every climate scientist in the world isn't leadership.
We all deserve to know whether each Democratic candidate has a well-thought-out plan for the climate crisis and go toe-to-toe with the oil and gas industry.
Here's what a climate-focused debate could reveal:
- Who supports the Green New Deal and who doesn't;
- How the candidates will stop the fossil fuel industry's influence on our democracy;
- Who will push our economy to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy;
- How candidates will support communities affected by climate disasters;
- Who will make a responsible plan to phase-out fossil fuels while protecting workers.
3. Communities across the country are being badly hurt by the effects of climate change.
Politics has always been divisive. But recently the emphasis on "us versus them" has gone too far. Instead of creating common goals for thriving communities, with healthy air and water, and shared access to clean energy, the calls of "fake news" and "build a wall" put people in conflict with one another. We need to hear how candidates for president are going to bring us together — because we need everyone in this fight.
If we don't shift the way we produce energy in this country, the people who have contributed the least to the climate crisis will continue to suffer the most from devastating extreme weather events and environmental pollution.
The time for talk has passed. We need to move to a 100 percent renewable energy economy and hold corporate polluters accountable for the damage they've caused.
4. We only have just over a decade to take drastic action on climate change.
Scientists tell us we have until 2030 to cut carbon pollution in half to stave off the worst effects of climate change. You do the math. Our future rests on the shoulders of whoever we elect as the next president.
Every day we allow to pass without taking action is one day we come closer to an irreversible ecological tipping point.
Since we have just over 10 years to take major steps forward on climate, the coming years will be a critical time to make up for all the years of climate inaction on both sides of the aisle. The next president of the U.S. must take bolder, faster climate action than any leader has before.
We want to see who is going to claim the mantle of climate leadership, and the best way to do that is for the candidates to debate their plans face-to-face on the debate stage.
Together, we can build a powerful movement to make sure that bold climate action is at the top of presidential candidates' priorities — but we need everyone on board.
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- 2020 election ›
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By Mark Hertsgaard
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