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Last week, CNN held and broadcasted ten back-to-back town halls, each with a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. The town halls were exclusively focused on climate policy, a vital area of political concern given the drastic nature of the world’s ongoing forest fires, water crises, and sea-level rise.
At each town hall, audience members and CNN moderators alike got the chance to ask candidates their most pressing questions – and, often, the candidates delivered. Here are four top moments from last week’s CNN Democratic climate debate.
1. Elizabeth Warren took a radical stance
If there’s one thing that Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, has become known for over the course of the decade, it’s her radical social and political stances. Thus, what Warren said at CNN’s Democratic climate debates regarding conversations about the environmental toll of single-use plastic straws, red meat consumption, and low-efficiency light bulbs should come as a surprise to no one.
Warren, while not dismissing the validity of these conversations in regards to minimizing a single person’s footprint on the environment, claimed that the fossil fuel industry has advanced these conversations to distract people from the immense burden their products place on the environment. NASA lists fossil fuel use among the most prominent causes of climate change.
2. Bernie Sanders advocated for budgetary changes
Among the Democratic candidates in the 2020 election, Bernie Sanders may have the most distinct personality. So when Sanders responded to a question with an enthusiastic “Duh!”, he was met with plenty of laughter. It was the more elaborate answer he gave later, however, that showed how he would combat climate change.
When expanding upon the question – would Sanders overturn the Trump administration’s new easing of light bulb energy efficiency regulations? – Sanders remarked that he would redirect massive amounts of money from defense spending into combating climate change. The candidate labeled climate change as “our common enemy.”
3. Kamala Harris would use her judicial past
If Kamala Harris, D-CA, were elected president, she would enter the presidency with a massive background in California’s judicial branch. To combat climate change, she would rely on her judicial past to guide the U.S. towards a climate-friendlier existence.
Specifically, Harris would direct the Department of Justice to pursue legal action against the many oil and gas companies long said to be accelerating the pace of climate change. Harris minced no words in describing these companies, whom she accused of harming and killing ordinary citizens without ever being held accountable.
4. Joe Biden made a promise
Recently, Joe Biden came under fire for hosting a fundraiser with the co-founder of a fossil fuel company. Just days earlier, at CNN’s Democratic climate town hall, an audience member asked Biden, who currently holds a strong lead in most Democratic polling, how voters could trust him to prioritize their futures over the interests of corporations.
Biden responded by saying that throughout his political career, he has always placed his constituents before business. Potential doubt about Biden’s commitment to environmental causes stems from an adviser’s comment seeking to find a “middle ground” regarding the highly progressive Green New Deal.
What moments stood out to you most strongly at the Democratic climate debate? Sound off in the comments!