Ten Democratic candidates will take the stage Wednesday to talk at length about their plans for tackling one of the most politically charged topics concerning liberal voters: climate change.
The CNN forum, which will span at least seven hours, marks the first-ever presidential primary event dedicated exclusively to energy and the environment.
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White House hopefuls will speak for about 40 minutes each, and in doing so, they’ll be battling for the title of top environmental candidate.
The list of candidates comprises former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), businessman Andrew YangAndrew YangGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality Andrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis MORE, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-N.J.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-Minn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.).
The event starts at 5 p.m. and is seen as a compromise for Democratic presidential candidates who for months have been calling for a 2020 climate debate.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has long opposed the idea of a single-issue debate and has prohibited candidates from participating in any unsanctioned debates, shutting down any chance that the candidates might be able to face each other on stage on this issue. Instead, candidates on Wednesday will talk one-on-one with a CNN moderator and take audience questions.
Roughly 10 minutes of debate time in the past two debates have focused on climate.
Climate change has become a top voting issue among Democrats, according to polls, and Wednesday’s forum could be a chance for candidates to emerge as the next climate candidate — a slot vacated by Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeInslee calls on Trump to ‘stay out of Washington state’s business’ Seattle mayor responds to Trump: ‘Go back to your bunker’ Trump warns he will take back Seattle from ‘ugly Anarchists’ if local leaders don’t act MORE (D).
Inslee, who released a six-part climate action plan, dropped out of the presidential race in late August after he failed to make the cut for the DNC’s third presidential primary debate, scheduled for Sept. 12.
Many environmentalists say Sanders’s proposal is the most robust.
“Bernie’s plan he just released stands out for both the level of ambition and for the need to tackle economic and racial injustice in this country,” said Lauren Maunus, a policy and political coordinator for the Sunrise Movement, the youth climate action group that helped shape the Green New Deal.
Sanders’s plan and his environmental record also make him the top-rated candidate, according to rankings compiled by Greenpeace.
Other participants waited until the last hour to release comprehensive climate plans. Buttigieg and Harris put forth their own individual climate-focused proposals Wednesday morning, the day of the event.
Booker rolled out a climate plan Tuesday, building upon his earlier environmental justice proposal and setting a 2045 deadline for achieving net-zero emissions.
Booker’s latest proposal boasts a $3 trillion investment spread over a number of areas, including $400 million in clean energy research, $100 billion to promote conservation farming practices, and $50 billion for an environmental justice fund that could be used to get lead out of water and clean up hazardous waste sites.
Castro also unveiled the first portions of his climate plan on Tuesday, which would decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2045. The plan also includes many elements considered part of the Green New Deal, such as universal health care and a $15 minimum wage. His campaign said three more climate proposals are forthcoming.
Castro previously proposed a civil rights bill for environmental issues, including more legal mechanisms for going after polluters whose actions disproportionately hurt communities of color.
Warren announced Tuesday evening she would be adopting Inslee’s overarching climate plan. While Warren had previously released various policy proposals focusing on specific issues related to climate, adopting Inslee’s plan gifts her with a robust climate policy going into Wednesday’s forum.
Many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates will also appear at a climate forum hosted by MSNBC later this month.
This post was updated 8/4/19