There’s no overstating the importance of the historic climate strike led by Greta Thunberg and young people around the world. In this pivotal week for youth-led climate action, it is more clear than ever that elected officials across the globe must listen to the young people whose lives are being defined by this crisis.
To that end, kudos to MSNBC, moderators Chris Hayes and Ali Velshi, Georgetown University, New York Magazine, and Our Daily Planet for getting more than half of the 2020 Democratic presidential field to go deep on climate action in an unprecedented 12-hour, two-day climate forum. Voters are hungry for more than rehearsed talking points, and candidates were wise to take advantage of this opportunity to have serious, substantive conversations about their climate plans.
Here are a few highlights from the forum – and check out changetheclimate2020.com for additional forum videos and excerpts.
- Michael Bennet: “The Republican party used to have a fairly honorable environmental record. Richard Nixon created the EPA…Ronald Reagan closed the hole in the ozone layer…My friend John McCain ran on climate change. What changed? …Citizens United.”
- Andrew Yang: “We can see the effects [of climate change] already: we’re seeing coastal flooding and non-coastal flooding in iowa and Nebraska. We’re seeing more powerful storms driven by warmer oceans…. The effects are real; they’re already happening.”
- Marianne Williamson: “We are in a different time … The consequences of failure are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. The consequences of failure are the possibility of global catastrophes on a level we have never seen before.”
- Bernie Sanders: “If we’re going to save the planet, we’re going to need to be extremely bold and aggressive. We are going to need to take on the greed and corruption of the fossil fuel industry.”
- John Delaney: I’m calling for no new fossil fuel pipelines … But if we’re actually going to capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere…we have to create a mechanism for that CO2 to be transported and safely stored or utilized.”
- Tim Ryan: “We have to be [carbon neutral by 25050]. I hope we’re there before that. I know that’s a huge lift. That’s a good goal — that’s why I want to see financial incentives align with environmental incentives.”
- Julián Castro: “These 500-year floods, or 100-year floods, they’re happening every other year, not only in Texas, but across the country and in different parts of the world. So we have to take what scientists have told us and act on that.”
- Cory Booker: “We need leaders that are unafraid to tell the truth and take the consequences. This is one of those moments. History will judge us. Where did you stand when the planet was in peril? “
- Steve Bullock: “We have tax credits and giveaways that are going to the petroleum companies. That has to stop. But the federal government has to be a partner in incentivizing opportunities to get new technologies.”
- Pete Buttigieg: “Climate is a moral issue. This is about stewardship. It is about justice – justice among people living on the earth right now, some of whom are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change than others.”
- Tom Steyer: “If we solve climate we’ll be better off, there’ll be more jobs, the jobs will be better paid, we’ll be healthier as a people, particularly people in low income areas, and we can lead the world again commercially, financially, and morally.”
Other significant climate highlights from this week:
- Millions of people across the globe joined the Youth Climate Strike to demand meaningful action on climate change,and at least five presidential candidates – Beto O’Rourke, Julián Castro, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer – participated in climate events.
- Pete Buttigieg released a new disaster preparedness plan that centers the growing threat of climate-fueled extreme weather events. In the plan, Buttigieg calls for ensuring federal investments infrastructure are climate and disaster resilient, launching a National Catastrophic Extreme Weather insurance program, and supporting loan programs that incorporate resilience and mitigation.
- Kamala Harris joined Jimmy Fallon and the Roots to slow jam the news – saying that climate change “is the single the single greatest threat facing our world today.”
- Elizabeth Warren said during a rally in NYC that her climate plan includes “justice for the black and brown communities that have struggled with the impact of pollution.”