Debate Moderators Ask About Ellen and Bush, But Ignore Climate Crisis

As America’s pundits and newspapers rushed to pronounce the winners and losers of Tuesday night’s 2020 Democratic presidential debate, progressives argued the event’s moderators deserve to be placed in the latter category for framing healthcare questions around insurance industry talking points, hand-wringing about “demonizing” rich people, and failing to ask a single question about the greatest existential threat facing humanity.

While they completely ignored the climate crisis, the event’s moderators — Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper of CNN and Marc Lacey of the New York Times — managed to find time at the very end of the debate to ask a question that infuriated environmentalists who were waiting all night for the planetary emergency to take center stage.

“Last week, Ellen DeGeneres was criticized after she and former President George W. Bush were seen laughing together at a football game. Ellen defended their friendship, saying, we’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different,” said Burnett. “So in that spirit, we’d like you to tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us and what impact it’s had on you and your beliefs.”

“THEY ASKED A QUESTION ABOUT ELLEN AND GEORGE BUSH BUT NOT CLIMATE CHANGE. I AM LOSING MY GODDAMN MIND,” Earther managing editor Brian Kahn tweeted. “CNN thought it was more important to use Ellen hanging out with a war criminal as a jumping off point to ask about bipartisan friendships than ask about the largest existential threat facing humanity.”

“The mainstream media’s continuing bizarre fetish for bipartisanship is the new climate denial,” Kahn added. “What an absolute joke.”

Climate researcher Leah Stokes called the lack of climate questions “complete irresponsibility.”

“Do you not understand that our house is on fire, New York Times and CNN? Do you not understand the stakes?” Stokes wrote. “Shame on you.”

NowThis

@nowthisnews

Here’s how the latest 3-hour ended…

Ellen’s friendship with George Bush: 22 minutes
Climate crisis: 0 minutes
LGBTQ+ rights: 0 minutes
Immigration: 0 minutes
Racial justice: 0 minutes

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The Ellen question capped off an event progressives said was dominated by corporate-friendly framing of major issues, healthcare being the most glaring example.

In one of the first questions of the night, Lacey of the Times asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) whether she would “raise taxes on the middle class to pay for” Medicare for All.

Critics were quick to point out that a similar version of that same question has been asked in every previous debate, and on each occasion moderators have failed to acknowledge that Medicare for All would also eliminate co-pays, premiums, and deductibles, resulting in lower overall costs for most Americans.

Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) both stressed the latter point, but Lacey continued to focus exclusively on “middle class taxes,” echoing insurance industry propaganda against Medicare for All.

“Well, as somebody who wrote the damn bill, as I said, let’s be clear. Under the Medicare for all bill that I wrote, premiums are gone. Co-payments are gone. Deductibles are gone. All out-of-pocket expenses are gone,” said Sanders. “At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of people will save money on their healthcare bills.”

In an email to supporters after the debate, People’s Action executive director George Goehl wrote that the “corporate media once again used insurance company talking points to attack Medicare For All, repeatedly asking candidates ‘How are you going to pay for it?’⁠ — but never once mentioning that Medicare for All will cut costs for everyday people.”

“The truth is, costs will go up if we pass Medicare for All⁠ — for big corporations and the very, very rich,” wrote Goehl. “Meanwhile, the rest of us will get a guaranteed right to healthcare, no matter how rich or poor we are. That’s why insurance companies and their lobbyists are fighting so hard⁠ — and spending so much⁠ — to frame the debate. If we pass Medicare for All, their days of profiteering off of other people’s misery are over.”

Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus put it more bluntly on Twitter:

David Lazarus

@Davidlaz

Dear dumbshit debate moderators: The way it works is taxes go up, while premiums, copays and deductibles go away, meaning most people save money

114 people are talking about this

The moderators’ right-wing framing of Medicare for All pervaded other questions asked throughout Tuesday night’s debate, which featured a historic 12 Democratic presidential candidates.

In a question on taxation directed at former Vice President Joe Biden, CNN host Erin Burnett said: “You have warned against demonizing rich people. Do you believe that Senator Sanders and Senator Warren’s wealth tax plans do that?”

Lucas Medina 🏳️‍🌈@LucaMedina

Really? This is how the moderators are framing these topics?
They’re asking the tough questions hard working billionaires want answered.

View image on Twitter
See Lucas Medina 🏳️‍🌈‘s other Tweets

In her response, Warren flipped the question on its head.

“My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax,” said Warren. “It’s why is it does everyone else on this stage think it is more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans?”

Facing Climate Crisis, Senators Have Millions Invested in Fossil Fuel Companies

While the World Is on Fire, DNC Kills Resolution for Climate Forum

“We passed a resolution supporting this multi-candidate discussion and party leaders overturned it,” said DNC voting member James J. Zogby in a statement Saturday. “The Democratic Party is supposed to be bottom up, not top down.”

Progressive strategist Dante Atkins shared results of Saturday’s vote on Twitter, and opined that the decision was a mistake for the party and Perez.

🕷Dante Atkins🕷

@DanteAtkins

OKAY: the vote before proxies was 141-118 against Resolution 4. Proxies will likely split the same way, or be even more against. It’s fairly conclusive that progressives and climate activists have lost this round.

🕷Dante Atkins🕷

@DanteAtkins

But make no mistake, Perez and the DNC have lost too. This was, in my opinion, a grievous error and a major embarrassment.

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The vote was met with sharp criticism from a coalition of environmental and progressive organizations that led a pressure campaign on the DNC to hold a debate singularly-focused on the climate crisis.

In a joint statement, the coalition—which includes CREDO Action, Sunrise Movement, and Climate Hawks Vote—accused Perez of “undermining the DNC’s own system and bypassing the will of the more than half a million grassroots activists, more than 100 DNC members in San Francisco, and most of the Democratic presidential candidates.”

“There are many DNC members from across the country who believe in listening to the grassroots and engaging in a transparent, democratic process,” the coalition said. “But Tom Perez made it clear today that he is not one of them.”

“Our entire future is at stake, but Tom Perez just swept aside the climate crisis for someone else to solve,” the joint statement continued. “That isn’t leadership. That isn’t normal order. That isn’t what it means to be a Democrat.”

Evan Weber, Sunrise’s political director, suggested it was bad political strategy.

“The Democratic Party needs the energy and motivation of young people to win in 2020,” he said. “The energy around this issue has been incredibly clear, yet Tom Perez keeps shooting the party in the foot by rejecting that energy and turning it away.”

“Without hundreds of thousands of people raising their voices, we never would have gotten the town halls on and CNN and MSNBC,” Weber’s statement continued. “This is the kind of energy we need from young people to win in 2020.”

In ‘climate apartheid’, rich will save themselves while poor suffer: U.N. report

GENEVA (Reuters) – The world is on course for “climate apartheid”, where the rich buy their way out of the worst effects of global warming while the poor bear the brunt, a U.N. human rights report said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Philip Alston, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, attends a news conference in Beijing, China, August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The report, submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council by its special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, said business was supposed to play a vital role in coping with climate change, but could not be relied on to look after the poor.

“An over-reliance on the private sector could lead to a climate apartheid scenario in which the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict, while the rest of the world is left to suffer,” he wrote.

He cited vulnerable New Yorkers being stranded without power or healthcare when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, while “the Goldman Sachs headquarters was protected by tens of thousands of its own sandbags and power from its generator”.

Relying exclusively on the private sector to protect against extreme weather and rising seas “would almost guarantee massive human rights violations, with the wealthy catered to and the poorest left behind”, he wrote.

“Even under the best-case scenario, hundreds of millions will face food insecurity, forced migration, disease, and death.”

His report criticized governments for doing little more than sending officials to conferences to make “sombre speeches”, even though scientists and climate activists have been ringing alarm bells since the 1970s.

“Thirty years of conventions appear to have done very little. From Toronto to Noordwijk to Rio to Kyoto to Paris, the language has been remarkably similar as States continue to kick the can down the road,” Alston wrote.

“States have marched past every scientific warning and threshold, and what was once considered catastrophic warming now seems like a best-case scenario.”

Since 1980, the United States alone had suffered 241 weather and climate disasters costing $1 billion or more, at a cumulative cost of $1.6 trillion.

There had been some positive developments, with renewable energy prices falling, coal becoming uncompetitive, emissions declining in 49 countries, and 7,000 cities, 245 regions, and 6,000 companies committing to climate mitigation.

However, despite ending its reliance on coal, China was still exporting coal-fired power plants and failing to crack down on its own methane emissions; and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro planned to open up the Amazon rainforest for mining, end demarcation of indigenous lands, and weaken environmental protection.

“In the United States, until recently the world’s biggest producer of global emissions, President (Donald) Trump has placed former lobbyists in oversight roles, adopted industry talking points, presided over an aggressive rollback of environmental regulations, and is actively silencing and obfuscating climate science,” Alston wrote.

Jay Inslee has a radical plan to phase out fossil fuel production in the US

“The ground. That is where I want to keep it.”
 Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Jay Inslee’s presidential campaign has been releasing its climate policy — the central rationale for its existence — in pieces. Extremely large, detailed, and nuanced pieces.

I covered the first piece, on getting to 100 percent clean energy in electricity, new cars, and new buildings, here. I covered the second, a 10-year, $9 trillion investment plan, here. The third was about how climate change would reshape foreign policy under Inslee. You can read it here.

On Monday, the fourth piece, “Freedom From Fossil Fuels,” is out. It is in many ways the most radical piece yet, and likely to be the most controversial. It is about cutting off the flow of fossil fuels from the US — “keeping it in the ground,” as the kids say.

As with the previous pieces, Inslee is not screwing around. This is a serious and deeply informed plan to phase out the burgeoning US fossil fuel industry, alongside a plan to protect the workers and communities who depend on it. As I said when I covered part two, Inslee is building a credible, policy-literate Green New Deal, piece by piece — a blueprint the next president, whoever it is, can use to hit the ground running.

There are several big items of note in the latest plan, including a proposal to put a price on carbon. Fracking? He wants to work toward a national prohibition. He wants to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies, reinstate dozens of environmental rules that President Trump reversed, step up enforcement on polluters, reject all new climate-unsafe infrastructure, and boost corporate climate accountability.

And that just scratches the surface. This is a capacious plan, requiring both executive powers and legislation. The net result would be a conscious, deliberate phasing out of US fossil fuel production.

For years this kind of supply-side policy has hovered at the edge of climate discussions. Inslee is thrusting it to the center.

oil wells
Say goodbye to these.
 Shutterstock

Let’s walk through the five big steps of the plan.

Step 1: end all fossil fuel subsidies

The persistence of fossil fuel subsidies is an embarrassment to the species. Virtually everyone (except the subsidized industries) recognizes their folly by now, but inertia and political influence peddling have kept them stumbling on like zombies.

Among the G7 countries, the US is the worst offender, with $26 billion in direct annual government financial support to fossil fuel industries (and that was calculated before Trump’s tax cuts, which dropped another $25 billion in their laps).

Inslee wants to claw back all those subsidies. That includes reversing a variety of federal tax loopholes, raising royalty rates for fossil fuels on federal lands, and “ending institutional federal support for fossil fuels,” a broad category that mentions, among other things, “directing the Secretaries of Defense, Energy and the Treasury to evaluate and report on the current and historical costs of protecting oil supplies around the globe.”

(It also includes one of my favorite little side bits: “transforming the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy into the Office of Industrial Decarbonization.”)

Step 2: end federal leasing and phase out fossil fuel production

Trump has done everything he can to accelerate the exploitation of fossil fuels on federal lands and waters. Inslee would do everything he can to end it.

So the first piece here is phasing out fossil fuel production on public land. Among other things, that would include a day-one executive order banning “all new fossil fuel leasing on federal lands and offshore waters, including coal, oil, gas, oil shale and tar sands.” Then Inslee would instruct the relevant federal agencies to “utilize all existing authorities to cancel and refuse to extend existing fossil fuel leases.” Then he would work with Congress on a permanent ban (oh, and reverse Trump’s shrinking of federal monuments).

That would be, to say the least, a big deal.

The second piece is phasing out fossil fuel production more broadly. Inslee would establish a “Presidential Commission on Energy Transition” (including the secretaries of several federal agencies) that will be “tasked with identifying and setting in motion the implementation of federal policies to phase out domestic fossil fuel production.” The commission will have a special focus on a “just transition” for fossil fuel workers and communities.

Gillette, Wyoming open strip mine.
Say goodbye to these too.
 Wikipedia

This piece also involves this list of possible policies, which is so on point I just have to reproduce it:

[M]andatory set-backs from private property and targeted locations (e.g. schools, hospitals, public parks, etc); outright bans on the most-destructive practices like mountaintop-removal coal mining; the buying out and decommissioning of fossil fuel assets; working with states to restrict fossil fuel corporations’ use of eminent domain as they seek to build new infrastructure across private property; and strengthening consideration of the social climate costs associated with fossil fuel production across federal permitting agencies.

Any of those would be a big deal! (And this is one part of one part of one part of Inslee policies, yeesh.)

The third piece is the just transition. There are tons of elements to this, among them shoring up the retirement, pension, and health care benefits of retired and retiring fossil fuel workers, providing “income support and educational stipends” to fossil fuel workers, creating a “Re-Power Fund” to invest in transitioning communities, creating a “Restoration Fund” to train workers and put them to work in ecological restoration, strengthening labor and bargaining laws, and conditioning all federal clean energy investments on high labor standards.

And the fourth piece? “Ending fracking.” Period. That will mean working with Congress on a national ban while taking other executive and legislative steps in the meantime to tighten health, environmental, and safety regulations.

Yowza.

Step 3: hold polluters accountable

And here is the long-awaited price on carbon.

Inslee proposes a “climate pollution fee” — none shall call it a tax! — to be levied as far upstream as possible, “applied initially in key economic sectors in which it can have the most effective impact.” (I’m not sure what that means exactly, but experts generally agree a carbon fee would have the most initial impact in the electricity sector.) The fee would cover carbon dioxide and also other greenhouse gas “super-pollutants” like methane.

Interestingly, Inslee does not specify an initial level or a rate of increase, saying only that the fee would start low and rise aggressively.

As for the revenue, it would “provide dedicated support for frontline and low-income communities in addressing the impacts of climate disasters” and fund “environmental quality protections and economic development.”

Lots of economists prefer a “revenue neutral” carbon tax, in which the revenue is automatically returned via dividends or tax cuts. I’m glad Inslee hasn’t adopted that idea. He frames the carbon fee just as it ought to be framed: as a way of funding some of the good things he wants to do. Not the center of the plan, or even the center of this part of the plan. Just another provision.

To protect “energy intensive and trade exposed” (EITE) industries, Inslee proposes a “carbon duty,” effectively a carbon border tax on imported goods. (Some scholars doubt whether such a thing would be legal or workable under international trade rules.)

Also on the theme of holding polluters accountable, Inslee proposes strengthening and better enforcing a wide range of environmental rules and regulations. Fellow Clean Air Act obsessives will want to dig into this section — Inslee effectively wants to use all the CAA powers that have been proposed to address carbon, including Section 111, NAAQs, and Section 115. I suspect the Trumpified Supreme Court would have something to say about that.

Remember this?
 Javier Zarracina/Vox; Getty Images

Step 4: reject all new fossil fuel infrastructure

There are four pieces to step four. (I know. Bear with me.)

The first is a new “climate test” that would govern all federal investments, to ensure that they do not work against Inslee’s broader climate goals. There are lots of details about the different agencies that would apply it, but the result would be the rejection of new fossil fuel infrastructure and the revoking of many existing permits — Inslee specifically mentions the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.

The second is to restore and respect the ability of local and tribal communities to control their own land and make their own infrastructure decisions. It’s worth calling out this bit: “the depredations upon tribal land, water, and people by proponents of oil pipelines — like the Dakota Access Pipeline — demand a new direction in federal policy that recognizes the heritage and the human rights of indigenous communities.” Indeed!

Inslee would reverse Trump’s efforts to preempt states and local communities and also work to overturn the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s ability to force states to accept natural gas pipelines.

The third is stopping fossil fuel exports by restoring the crude oil export ban, working to make it permanent, and working to place similar restrictions on the export of other fossil fuels like coal and liquefied natural gas.

And fourth is using the federal government’s powers to accelerate the shift away from oil, including through procurement (the government is an enormous consumer) and other such fun stuff as requiring all federal rest stops to have high-voltage vehicle-charging stations. (Also: “a new requirement that every commercial fueling station must also provide electric vehicle charging services.”)

Step 5: improve corporate climate transparency

As climate change intensifies, corporations face risks both from extreme weather events and from the climate policies that might be passed to address them. With a few exceptions, most big, carbon-intensive companies are not transparent about those risks, making it difficult for shareholders to make informed decisions and investors to rationally allocate capital.

Inslee proposes a wide variety of ways for the federal government to increase oversight over climate pollution and risk, everything from new Securities and Exchange Commission commissioners, rules, and standards to new bank lending transparency requirements. These get pretty far into the weeds — “reforming reserve-based lending and debt-restructuring rules,” anyone? — but they have the potential to have some of the most significant long-term effects.

Here Inslee specifically raises the possibility of a “climate change-driven financial crisis” and offers a long list of acronym-laden suggestions to help avoid it (the FSOC, CFTC, and NGFS all play their role).

exxon knew
This is what climate risk looks like.
 Johnny Silvercloud/Flickr

Step 6: make this plan into the official Democratic platform

So there you have it: part four (of five? six?) of Jay Inslee’s climate plan, which, like parts one through three before it, alone contains more detail and ambition than the entire climate platforms of the other Democratic candidates combined.

Specifically, in this part, Inslee is taking the “keep it in the ground” passions of the climate movement and channeling them into a comprehensive policy plan. This goes beyond run-and-gun fights against every new proposed pipeline; it’s about systematically phasing out fossil fuel production on the schedule set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

It’s simply not coherent to accept the IPCC deadline — global decarbonization by midcentury — and argue that the US should go on being the world’s biggest producer of oil and gas. We are producing enough new carbon to cancel all the good we’re doing with demand-side policy. Just because that carbon might not be burned in the US doesn’t mean the US won’t suffer from the effects.

Getting serious about climate change means getting serious about phasing out fossil fuel production. Here, once again, Inslee is taking the lead in showing how it can be done.

Some Republican Lawmakers Break With Party on Climate Change

Officials favor market-based solutions over government regulations

Many homes in Mexico Beach, Fla., remained leveled to their foundations in May, seven months after Hurricane Michael ripped through the coastal city. PHOTO: SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES

A small but growing number of Republican lawmakers are urging action on climate change, driven by shifting sentiment among GOP voters and the effects of global warming, from stronger hurricanes to more-destructive wildfires.

The group backs policies rooted in what they consider GOP principles, favoring market-based solutions rather than government regulations. Many are loyal supporters of President Trump, but they part with him on climate change, which he has dismissed as hyped.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida says the GOP needs to advance sound conservative proposals to combat climate change and embrace science, or risk long-term political damage.

“How can we as a party stand up to the generational challenges we face with globalization and automation and climate change if we don’t look credible to the body politic,” Mr. Gaetz said in an interview.

In April, Mr. Gaetz announced his “Green Real Deal” plan that seeks to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by fostering innovation and entrepreneurship and reducing government regulations on the development of clean-energy technology. His plan is a counter to the “Green New Deal” proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and others that involves large federal investments in buildings, industries and transportation systems to slash emissions.

Republican Rep. Garret Graves’s state of Louisiana depends on the oil-and-gas industry but is losing land partly as a result of sea-level rise. As the ranking minority member on the newly created House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, he has favored federally funded financial incentives for state and local investments in resiliency projects such as flood control.

“The conversation is certainly shifting toward not just acknowledging the threats of climate change, but starting to talk about policies and solutions,” said Ben Pendergrass, senior director of government affairs at Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan advocacy group that helped create the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus. The caucus, formed in 2016, has about two dozen Republican members.

Rep. Francis Rooney (R., Fla.), the new co-chairman of the caucus, joined Democrats in co-sponsoring a measure in January that would tax the carbon emissions of fuel producers and importers. That followed a carbon-tax bill filed last year by then-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R., Fla.) that didn’t advance. Mr. Rooney also introduced a resolution in February that called for planning to mitigate the effects of sea-level rise.

Yet he and like-minded Republicans remain a small minority in the party. When the Democratically controlled House passed a resolution in May aimed at keeping the U.S. in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, from which Mr. Trump said he intended to withdraw, only three Republicans voted for it. And no Republicans have endorsed the Green New Deal.

“They’ve made a tiny pivot from being flat-earth, climate-change deniers to at least admitting climate change is real,” said Rep. Darren Soto (D., Fla.), member of the House subcommittee on environment and climate change. “We really need to have fundamental and bipartisan belief in the fact that climate change is human-caused and an existential threat to the human race.”

In the Senate, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), who heads the committee on energy and natural resources, has declared reducing emissions a policy priority.

The state of Florida depends on its natural resources for its booming tourism industry, which in recent years has been affected by algae blooms that flourish in warm waters. As part of his environmental agenda, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis formed a task force to address the algae blooms. He also successfully pushed for more than $625 million in funding from the legislature this year for Everglades restoration and protection of water resources, and he created the position of chief science officer to coordinate research on pressing environmental concerns.

A 2018 Monmouth University poll found that 64% of Republicans believed in climate change, a 15-percentage-point jump from 2015, compared with 92% of Democrats. At the same time, 25% of Republicans called it a very serious problem, while 82% of Democrats did.

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Millennial Republicans are nearly twice as likely as baby boomers and older GOP members to believe government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change or protect air quality, according to a Pew Research Center survey last year.

Mr. Rooney said his party needed to address such sentiment among younger generations. “Let’s get with the program here and reach some of these emerging voting blocs,” he said.

A group called RepublicEn aims to cultivate conservative support to address climate change by proposing free-enterprise policies. Among them is a carbon tax similar to that backed by Mr. Rooney that would reduce the use of fossil fuels and return the revenue from the tax to taxpayers—by, for instance, offsetting it with reduced payroll or income taxes. It also would include a “border adjustment” that imposes a fee on imports from countries that don’t have a carbon tax to prevent U.S. companies from suffering competitive disadvantage.

“Conservatives are starting to hear the message of climate action in their own language,” said Bob Inglis, executive director of the organization.

Joe Biden and other 2020 Democrats give climate change the attention it deserves

Global warming is now a hot topic for voters, and candidates are taking note: Our view

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In 2016, the two presidential candidates spent all of five minutes and 27 seconds on climate change during three televised debates.

Now Democrats seeking the White House in the 2020 election are all but falling over each other with sweeping proposals for recasting the economy by promoting renewable energy, with a goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions nationally by midcentury.

The presidential hopefuls are taking cues from the Green New Deal resolution,  introduced in February by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, which set a high bar for action and urgency.

To be sure, their proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050is an overreach that is further burdened with costly social engineering goals involving guaranteed jobs and health care. But at least they helped elevate climate change to a national debate as people were hurting from record California wildfires, widespread flooding hit the Midwest and the scientific evidence grew increasingly indisputable.

MORE: The DNC said no to a climate debate. Some of its members are still trying to make it happen.

Democratic voters are telling pollsters that climate change is one of their top concerns, and nearly half of young adults surveyed call it a “crisis.” Candidates are taking note. Detailed action plans sprouted from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee — running as a climate candidate — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and, last week, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The plans contain some important ideas. These including sticking with the Paris Agreement (President Donald Trump would pull Washington out, leaving the United States as an international pariah), pushing ahead with Obama-era fuel economy standards, embracing nuclear power as part of a clean-energy solution, and imposing some kind of price on carbon.

We continue to believe that the best approach would be a refundable national carbon tax that would make renewables and carbon-capture schemes more competitive — and prevent emitters from using the atmosphere as a free waste dump. Ideally, such a tax would be imposed in concert with similar actions by the world’s other leading carbon emitters, so no nation would bear a disproportionate burden.

Disappointingly, the Democratic National Committee has scheduled up to 12 debates and refuses to devote even one solely to climate change. Given the importance of the issue, this is a mistake.

From Jay Inslee on Climate

[I actually had someone tell me they didn’t believe a post I shared from Truthout stating the DNC was disallowing climate talk in their upcoming debates. She said something like, “Democrats care about climate change” as if this was all fake news. So here it is, straight from Democratic climate candidate, Jay Inslee…]

 

Grassroots activists have always been the foundation of the Democratic Party — and they’ve been loud and clear for months with a simple demand: Put climate front and center in the Democratic debates.

I’m extremely disappointed in the decision made by the DNC to refuse to hold a climate debate and to ignore these Democrats. And I’m extremely concerned about their threat to punish candidates who would participate in an outside climate debate by locking them out of future DNC debates. It is undemocratic.

Climate change is the existential crisis of our time. Democratic voters say climate change is their top issue. So why is the DNC silencing our voices?

I will keep making this a priority, no matter what anyone does to try to stop that

DNC Faces Outrage as It Announces It Will Not Host 2020 Debate on Climate Crisis

Sparking a torrent of backlash from Democratic White House contenders, environmental organizations, and youth climate leaders, the Democratic National Committee announced Wednesday that it will not host a climate-specific presidential primary debate and will punish candidates who attend a debate hosted by any other organization.

News of the DNC’s decision was made public by 2020 presidential candidate and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who was the first Democratic contender to call for a debate focused solely on the climate crisis.

“Today, my team received a call from the Democratic National Committee letting us know that they will not host a climate debate,” Inslee said in a statement. “Further, they explained that if we participated in anyone else’s climate debate, we will not be invited to future debates. This is deeply disappointing.”

“The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time,” Inslee said. “The next president must make defeating this crisis the top priority of the nation. And I will continue to do everything I humanly can to ensure the climate crisis is at the top of the national agenda.”

Jay Inslee

@JayInslee

Democratic voters say that climate change is their top issue; the Democratic National Committee must listen to the grassroots of the party.

Jay Inslee

@JayInslee

We are running out of time. We’ve kicked the can down the road for too long. The climate crisis merits a full discussion of our plans, not a short exchange of talking points.

328 people are talking about this

Environmental groups that have led the grassroots push for a climate-focused debate echoed Inslee’s outrage, which helped make the Twitter hashtag #ClimateDebate a trending topic in the United States.

U.S. Youth Climate Strike, whose petition calling on the DNC to host a climate debate has garnered over 53,000 signatures, vowed to “fight back” against the committee’s refusal to give the planetary crisis the national spotlight it deserves.

“Disappointed to learn DNC will not honor the rallying cries of their own base, and will not only not host a climate debate, but will also ban any candidate who participates in one from participating in DNC debates,” the group tweeted. “Again and again, the establishment and adults have failed us. We need policy now.”

Brandy Doyle, campaign manager for Credo Action, said in a statement Wednesday that the decision shows DNC chairman “Tom Perez doesn’t seem to care much about the climate crisis.”

“[B]ut many of the Democratic candidates and a vast majority of Democratic primary voters do,” Doyle said. “This move is a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of activists and all of the candidates calling on the DNC to hold a dedicated climate debate.”

“It isn’t too late for Tom Perez and other leaders at the DNC to come to their senses,” Doyle added. “They’ll find out soon enough that it is going to take a lot more than a quiet phone call to one campaign to silence the growing demands for a climate debate.”

In what appeared to be an attempt to quell the backlash coming his way, Perez posted a series of tweets just after midnight assuring enraged presidential candidates and climate campaigners that he has “personally told media partners seeking to host a 2020 primary debate how important it is for climate change to be debated during each and every debate.”

“The DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area — we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on all the issues,” said Perez. “You have my word that I will do everything I can to make sure our candidates are able to debate all of the critical issues during this primary.”

Grassroots activists who have been working tirelessly to push serious climate discussion into the national political conversation have good reason to be skeptical of Perez’s insistence that the DNC’s corporate media partners will give the climate crisis the necessary amount of focus.

In a report published in April, Public Citizen found that corporate media networks have systematically failed to devote sufficient time to the climate crisis, which activists argue should — given the existential threatit poses — dominate the headlines on a daily basis.

The youth-led Sunrise Movement, which is planning a massive actionoutside of the second DNC debate in Detroit next month, urged all 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to “speak out against” the DNC’s “disastrous decision” and pressure the committee to reverse course.

“This is an outrage. Almost every major candidate has supported the call for a climate debate, but the DNC won’t even let the American people hear their plans for one of the greatest challenges of our time,” Sunrise tweeted. “This is an emergency. We need the Democrats to act like it.”

Sunrise Movement 🌅

@sunrisemvmt

We hope that all candidates, especially those who joined us in calling for a , will speak out against this disastrous decision and demand @DNC reconsider.

Cc: @CoryBooker @ewarren @BernieSanders @JulianCastro @SenGillibrand @PeteButtigieg @amyklobuchar @JoeBiden

Sunrise Movement 🌅

@sunrisemvmt

This is an outrage. Almost every major candidate has supported the call for a #ClimateDebate, but the @DNC won’t even let the American people hear their plans for one of the greatest challenges of our time.

This is an emergency. We need @TheDemocrats to act like it. https://twitter.com/jayinslee/status/1136383781185572864 

435 people are talking about this

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) quickly heeded Sunrise’s call, tweetinglate Wednesday that “Gov. Inslee is exactly right.”

“Climate change is the biggest challenge we face,” Warren wrote. “Every candidate running for president should have a serious set of policies to address it, and should be eager to defend those proposals in a debate.”

Biden unveils climate change plan using Green New Deal as framework, after AOC criticism

Warning that “we must take drastic action now to address the climate disaster facing the nation and our world,” former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled a wide-ranging plan to combat climate change and transform America’s economy.

Using the Green New Deal as a framework, the clear front-runner right now in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination announced he’s “calling for a Clean Energy Revolution to confront this crisis and do what America does best – solve big problems with big ideas.”

The price tag for the proposal — named ‘The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution & Environmental Justice’ —  is $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years. Biden’s campaign said this would be supplemented by leveraging more than $5 trillion in additional private sector and state and local investments. This is considerably less expensive than the Green New Deal itself, for which cost estimates range as high as $93 trillion.

But it follows criticism from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others on the party’s left flank about his stance on environmental issues. The former vice president vowed he’d pay for the new plan by rolling back the tax incentives in President Trump’s tax cuts that he argued “enrich corporations at the expense of American jobs and the environment.”

BIDEN DEFENDS HIS CLIMATE CHANGE RECORD AFTER OCASIO-CORTEZ CRITICISM

Biden, in a statement announcing the plan, emphasized that “more severe storms and droughts, rising sea levels, warming temperatures, shrinking snow cover and ice sheets — it’s already happening. We must take drastic action now to address the climate disaster facing the nation and our world.”

And he warned that “science tells us that how we act or fail to act in the next 12 years will determine the very livability of our planet.”

The unveiling of the 22-page plan comes three weeks after Biden teased he would soon be producing a proposal, as he pushed back against criticism by rising progressive political star and freshman Rep. Ocasio-Cortez of New York that his record on tackling climate change was “middle of the road.”

BIDEN COMES UNDER ATTACK BY 2020 DEMOCRATIC RIVALS

Biden’s campaign, in spelling out the plan, said that the Green New Deal “captures two basic truths” – that the nation “urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge,” and that the environment and the country’s economy “are completely and totally connected.”

The Green New Deal, co-authored by Ocasio-Cortez, is a sweeping proposal introduced in Congress earlier this year that aims to transform the country’s economy to combat climate change while enacting a host of new welfare programs.

The Biden campaign said the former vice president’s plan would ensure that the U.S. achieves a 100 percent clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emission no later than 2050. And they said that if elected president, on his first day in office Biden would sign a series of executive orders “with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track.”

Other parts of the plan include demanding Congress pass a bill in Biden’s first year in the White House that includes milestone targets no later than 2025, make an historic investment in clear energy, climate research and innovation, and “incentivize the rapid deployment of clean energy innovations across the economy.”

The campaign spotlighted that Biden would not only immediately recommit the U.S. to the Paris Agreements on climate change – reversing actions taken by Trump – but would also “rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change.”

The campaign also said that a Biden administration would take action against fossil fuel companies and others “who put profit over people and knowingly harm our environment and poison our communities’ air, land, and water, or conceal information regarding potential environmental and health risks.”

And Biden, long a friend to organized labor, would vow “not to leave any workers or communities left behind” as the nation transforms to a clean energy economy.

Climate change is a top issue in the race for the Democratic nomination, with a number of Biden’s rivals in the historically enormous field of 24 candidates releasing their own plans to tackle climate change.

Last month, Biden past efforts in combating climate change were criticized by Ocasio-Cortez. She tweeted that Biden’s upcoming climate plan “is a dealbreaker. There is no ‘middle ground’ w/ climate denial & delay.”

A day later, at an event in support of the Green New Deal, she took aim again. Without mentioning the former vice president by name, Ocasio-Cortez highlighted that “if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try to come back today and say we need to have a ‘middle of the road approach’ to save our lives, that is too much for me.”

Campaigning soon after in New Hampshire, Biden responded.

“You never heard me say ‘middle of the road.’ I’ve never been middle-of-the-road on the environment. Tell her … to look at my record. She’ll find that nobody has been more consistent about taking on the environment and a green revolution than I have,” he said during a gaggle with reporters.

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And pushing back against his critics, he noted that “this is a long campaign and everybody should just calm down a little bit and take a look at the record from before.”

Biden is back in New Hampshire on Tuesday, and his campaign tells Fox News that the candidate is expected to talk more about his plan during the trip, which includes a stop at a renewable energy supplier in Plymouth.