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Senators Call for Climate Action Discussion in 1st Democratic Primary Debate

June 10, 2019, 9:00 AM HST (Updated June 10, 2019, 8:22 AM)
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U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) called on NBC News and MSNBC at the end of May 2019 to devote a significant amount of time to a discussion on climate action at the first Democratic presidential primary debate, according to a recent press release from Sen. Schatz’s office.

The opening Democratic debate of the 2020 election cycle is on June 26 and 27 in Miami, Florida.

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“There are many ways to address the climate crisis, and voters want to know what policies each candidate supports,” the senators wrote. “Voters deserve a vigorous debate with an informed moderator that can press candidates for detailed answers and hold them accountable.”

In their letter to NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack, the senators underscored the devastating impacts of climate change being felt by communities across the country. They also highlighted recent polling that found strong support for climate action among Democrats and Republicans.

The full text of the letter follows:

Andy Lack
Chairman
NBC News and MSNBC
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10111

Dear Mr. Lack,

We are writing to strongly encourage NBC News and MSNBC to devote a significant amount of time to a discussion on climate action at the upcoming Democratic presidential primary debate.

According to a recent national poll, nearly all Democratic voters – 96 percent – named climate change as a top issue when choosing a presidential candidate for 2020. In a poll of young voters, a majority of both Republicans and Democrats view climate change as a problem, including a clear majority of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats. They are looking for a candidate who will take meaningful action, and currently 73 percent of young voters disapprove of the approach Donald Trump has taken on climate change.

This should not be surprising. The impacts of climate change are happening now—from wildfires in California, to flooding in the mid-west, to sea level rise on the coasts. It is an issue that is impacting people’s daily lives and endangering their future safety and prosperity. It is as real as their concerns about health care and the economy, and people deserve to hear how their potential candidates will address this problem.

There are many ways to address the climate crisis, and voters want to know what policies each candidate supports. Voters deserve a vigorous debate with an informed moderator that can press candidates for detailed answers and hold them accountable.

In 2016, the three presidential debates devoted just over five minutes to climate change, two percent of the total time. What’s worse is the fact that with the little time devoted to climate change, one candidate actively misled the American people by denying that climate change even exists.

The facts are clear. Democratic voters across the country have accepted the facts about climate change, are seeing its impacts, and are having real debates on solutions. In this consequential election year, it’s time for our candidates to do the same.

Sincerely,

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