January 15, 2020

350 Action Responds to Final Democratic Debate before Iowa Caucuses

(Washington D.C.) The final debate before the Iowa Caucuses spent less than 10 minutes on the climate crisis, which was a restrained conversation with little ambition and no time to dig deep into the substance of solutions the candidates proposed. 

Steyer and Sanders led the pack with pointed messaging on the fossil fuel industry’s climate deception and the urgency of an executive led transition off of fossil fuels. Steyer used his time to support the long-standing fight against the Keystone XL pipeline and Sanders pivoted with frequency to the drought in Iowa and the Australian wildfires to argue for energy transition off of dirty fossil fuels. 

Sanders cut through the rhetoric with a reference to the Green New Deal and holding the fossil fuel industry accountable for the corporate welfare they’ve received from the Trump Administration, a position in line with 350’s own demand to “Make Them Pay.” Warren stated that her presidency would begin on day one in office with a stop to all offshore drilling, drilling on federal lands, and reversals on the rollbacks of life saving environmental regulations.

Klobuchar and Biden added little to their overall performances in the latest debate. Biden made no reference to new policy or efforts of future-looking plans. Instead, he held to his record of 1986 climate legislation and committed blithely to reinstating Obama-era climate protections. Klobuchar stunningly continued to tout false solutions like a carbon tax, with no clear vision or emphasis on the impact of real climate solutions. 

The following is a statement from 350 Action’s North America Director Tamara Toles O’Laughlin: 

“Ahead of the Iowa Caucuses, the candidates played it too safe on proposals to deal with the climate crisis. It made for messy television and even messier distinctions among the field of candidates. The decade of climate will not be won without bold or ambitious solutions. With deadly storms, torrential rain and flooding pummeling the Southeast United States, as wildfires continue to burn across the globe, the lack of actual analysis on the issue leaves climate voters wanting for a standout climate champion. 

“We were pleased to see Tom Steyer invoke the ongoing Keystone XL pipeline action on the debate stage, giving a nod to the tireless efforts of climate activists, Indigenous communities, and farmers who have for a decade stalled the pipeline despite recent efforts by the fossil fueled Trump Administration to push through construction. Sanders and Warren stuck to their commitments to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable and halting all drilling on day one in office respectively. None of the other candidates stepped up as inspiring climate leaders, at this crucial decision point in the contest. Message received.

“With stakes high enough to move a generation, the climate crisis is top of mind for voters. We need a Democratic candidate who will own their climate ambition and apply it to every issue. We don’t have time for half-measures or the politics of yesteryear in the climate decade.”


Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage, thanu@350action.org