Washington, DC — On Monday, five Democratic presidential candidates vowed to confront the climate crisis head on if elected in 2020 at back-to-back town halls in Manchester, New Hampshire. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg echoed the sentiments expressed in a new Harvard IOP poll, which showed that 69 percent of young Democrats who are likely to vote think climate change is “a crisis and demands urgent action.”
“We commend these 2020 presidential candidates for campaigning more aggressively on climate action than ever before,” said Gene Karpinski, League of Conservation Voters President. “The 2020 election represents the last, best chance for our country to confront the climate crisis, it’s a top tier issue for Democratic primary voters and every single candidate must commit to an ambitious plan to address the crisis on day one as president.”
Highlights from Monday night’s climate conversation:
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) first mentioned climate change as an example of standing up to Donald Trump, calling him out for denying the science. When asked about communicating the urgency of climate change to rural communities, Senator Klobuchar pointed to the floods in Iowa and Missouri and the fires in the West to note that “Climate change isn’t happening 100 years from now. It’s happening right now.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) touched on multiple specific policy proposals to combat the climate crisis, including instituting a moratorium on new mining and drilling on federal lands and coasts. Warren pledged to create, “10,000 jobs for people who want to go spend a year in the national parks and the national forests to be able to give something back to the land,” and promised to make the U.S. a leader, “in the direction of a sustainable earth,” on day one.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) focused on the urgency of the climate crisis, noting that it is “an issue we cannot run away from.” He called for an aggressive transition from fossil fuels that helps retrain workers, invests in solar and wind energy, and rethinks our transportation systems. Senator Sanders also briefly mentioned the importance of climate change in answers relating to a new focus on foreign policy and whether we should impeach Trump.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) made an urgent and personal case to take action on climate change noting, “The clock is ticking every day on this issue and every day that we fail to act will be to our collective consequence,” and adding, “I, to my core, know that the climate crisis is represents an existential threat to who we are as human beings.”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) discussed how his generation is ready for climate action, noting “The longer you’re planning to be here, by definition, the more you have at stake in the decisions that are going to be made, especially when climate change is largely going to dictate the economic opportunities.” Ahead of the town hall, Mayor Buttigieg named climate change as one of the three issues we have to deal with right now.