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Put Climate Change at the Center of the 2020 Presidential Election

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To Broadcast Companies and Past Presidential Primary and General Election Debate Moderators:

Across the country and around the globe, people are standing up to demand climate action. This crisis is about more than rising temperatures and sea levels--this is about social justice, public health, national security, extreme weather, climate refugees, and much more. This is about passing on a habitable, sustainable, and thriving world to future generations--as is evident in the rising number of youth school strikes and voters voicing their concern.

We need climate action now. That’s why presidential candidates must address climate change during the debates for the 2020 election. In the 2016 debates, only five minutes were spent on environmental issues, and there were zero questions regarding climate policy. To be blunt, this was an abdication of journalistic responsibility. Voters must be able to learn where US presidential candidates stand on the greatest challenge humanity faces.

To this end, we ask that media organizations hosting the primary and general presidential debates emphasize questions of climate policy in all debates.

We recognize that the questions are up to the discretion of the hosts, but offer the following as examples of questions to which voters need to hear the candidates’ answers.

  1. According to the most recent United Nations climate report, we have only 12 years to minimize the most catastrophic effects of global warming, and urgent changes are needed to reduce the risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. What do you envision as America’s role in this global fight against climate change?
  2. Vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of climate change, including low-income communities, people of color, and children. For the sake of improved public health and social equity, how do you plan to ensure a just transition to a clean economy?
  3. Will you recommit the US to the Paris Climate Agreement?
  4. Climate change will have an impact on all ecosystems, including those essential to our food supply. With agriculture being both a cause and casualty of climate change, how can we improve our practices to secure a sustainable food production system?
  5. The Pentagon has stated that climate change poses “immediate risks” to national security. How do you envision acting to help mitigate climate change-induced security risks?

Sign our petition now to demand that the media put the climate crisis at the center of public discussion of the 2020 election.

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