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Dem Debate: The Climate Discussion Explained

Climate-related topics raised during the Democratic debates last week received 15 minutes of discussion over the course of the two nights, but the conversation was largely superficial.

On the first night of the debates in Miami, only 6% of the moderators' questions were about the climate crisis. The moderators asked 82 questions, but just five centered on climate change. Critical policy proposals such as the Green New Deal and 100 percent renewable energy mandates were given virtually no air time.

A slew of other key issues await further discussion if a climate debate does occur, such as renewable energy, the phasing out fossil fuels, EV charging station network improvements, carbon taxing, emission restrictions, fracking and more.

According to Time magazine, none of the candidates gave effective or comprehensive answers on climate change, including four candidates who have made it a campaign centerpiece, Jay Inslee, Beto O’Rourke, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. Instead, their answers that were “either evasive, meandering or dry. Climate change was a subject at the debate, but it was not a subject of debate”.

This is a problem for the candidates and also for voters and citizens who care about climate change -- and, most of all, the younger and future generations who will have to deal with its effects. It’s dismaying that people and leaders in the United States still need to learn how to seriously discuss climate change and the solutions that need to be implemented immediately.

Most Democratic candidates agree that the U.S. should recommit to the Paris Agreement.

They do recognize climate change as an urgent threat and the majority have endorsed implementing Green New Deal policies.

In the media, it’s difficult for a crisis that moves at a relatively slow pace to compete

with Trump’s dramatic daily tweets. Due to the issue’s urgency, the DNC needs to pull it together and have a thoughtful debate about climate change. So far, the DNC’s unfortunate stance has been to only hold multi-issue debates and to bar any issue-specific debates.

Currently, of the 25 Democratic presidential candidates, 19 have gone on record in favor of holding a debate devoted to climate change policy. In response, DNC officials have proposed two resolutions that could come up for a vote at the party’s August meeting. One proposal would create a climate debate. Another would call for a forum in which candidates appear individually to address climate policy. It's absolutely essential to host at least one full-length debate focused specifically on the critical issue of climate change.



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