Atlanta, GA– Last night, the climate crisis returned as a key part of the Democratic Debate after several neglected to raise the existential issue altogether. In November, 350 Action, the People’s Climate Movement, and others issued a petition calling on MSNBC to prioritize questions about the climate crisis in this month’s debate. This advocacy is paying off. Even before an explicit question about the climate crisis, candidates including Yang, Buttigieg, Steyer and Sanders pushed to incorporate the key issue into their responses on a variety of issues from the economy, health, and future threats to the country.
When prompted, candidates doubled down on their climate plans. Robust responses ranged from Senator Sanders’ commitment to take on the fossil fuel industry and hold them liable for climate damages, a position in line with 350’s own demand to make fossil fuel companies pay for care and repair. Tom Steyer pledged to make climate solutions his number one priority. And Vice President Biden’s fought to make it known that he introduced one of the earliest climate bills several decades earlier. The candidates agree that tackling the climate crisis is important, even as they fight about how to get there.
Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, North America Director of 350 Action, issued the following statement on the debate:
“It’s no surprise that the loudest applause line of the night was Senator Sanders’ call to hold the Fossil Fuel Industry criminally liable for the impacts of the climate crisis. In this debate, we applaud the candidates’ continued commitment to climate action. They have signaled responsiveness to our movement’s pressure, and we will hold them to their baseline plans for climate policy. It’s time for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, to break the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on our democracy, and to ensure that our changing energy system creates new jobs for communities made vulnerable by the climate crisis.
“We are watching the gap in the ambition of the candidates, on climate. Sanders and Steyer led the charge, laying out the impacts on community health, highlighting the increasing numbers of climate refugees, and the existential threat to the most vulnerable all over the nation and faced by people all over the world. However, Vice President Biden produced a canned response about a decades-old bill to investigate the climate crisis, not focusing at all on solutions he would put forward as President in 2020. Now is the time for a clear vision on the climate crisis. As we get closer to the democratic nomination, we demand more than slick one-liners and digs at Trump as he destroys decades of climate protections. America needs visionary policies for systemic change to face the climate crisis head-on.”
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