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Michael Bloomberg and Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" Dec. 20. Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

NBC devoted the full hour of Sunday's "Meet the Press" to climate change, featuring an interview with Michael Bloomberg vowing to elevate its role in the White House race.

Why it matters: It's a rare star turn for climate change on the Sunday shows and potentially a sign of growing political prominence for a topic that's typically a second-tier focus in national elections and on Capitol Hill.

“We're not going to debate climate change, the existence of it. The Earth is getting hotter. And human activity is a major cause, period. We're not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not."
— Chuck Todd at the open of today's show

The show also includes comments from NASA climate scientist Kate Marvel.

The big picture: The segment comes after California's devastating wildfire season and recent reports from the Trump administration and the United Nations about the consequences of warming and the closing window for aggressive steps to hold the expected global temperature rise in check.

  • Meanwhile, President Trump is unwinding Obama-era climate regulations and House Democrats are grappling with how to craft climate policy if a political window for major legislation opens in the future.

What they're saying: Outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has overseen the most aggressive climate policies in the nation, said the U.S. is not doing enough relative to the dangers of warming.

"[N]ot even close, and not close in California, and we're doing more than anybody else, and not close in America or the rest of the world."
— Gov. Brown on "Meet the Press"

Bloomberg said he'll work to ensure that 2020 Democratic presidential candidates offer strong proposals on climate.

"I don't know whether I'm going to run or not, but I will be out there demanding that anybody that's running has a plan. And I want to hear the plan, and I want everybody to look at it and say whether it's doable."
— Bloomberg on "Meet the Press"

The intrigue: Climate's treatment on the Sunday shows and network TV overall has for years come under attack from advocates. They criticize sparse attention and appearances by non-expert guests who dispute the scientific consensus on human-caused warming.

  • For instance, a July analysis by the liberal Media Matters for America said that over two weeks from late June to early July, ABC, CBS and NBC aired a combined 127 segments on the major U.S. heatwave, but just one mentioned climate change.
  • "Meet the Press" drew criticism for a Nov. 25 segment in which Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute inaccurately suggested that the last two years have been among the coldest on record.

By the numbers: Federal datasets show that 2016 was the warmest year on record dating back to the late 1800s. NASA data shows that 2017 was the second-warmest, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which uses a slightly different method, said it's the third-warmest. Both agencies' data shows that the five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2010.

  • Meanwhile, 2018 will almost certainly rank as the fourth-warmest year on record, and NOAA is expecting 2019 to be another top five warmest year.

Go deeper:

Disclosure: NBC is an investor in Axios.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.