Aug 22, 2019

Democratic National Committee votes down climate-focused debate

Photo: Photo: Chris Conway/Getty

Democratic National Committee officials voted 17-8 on Thursday against a proposal to host a primary debate focused exclusively on climate change, according to HuffPost.

The big picture: Environmental activists, including the youth-led Sunrise Movement, have been pressuring the DNC for months to host a first-of-its-kind debate on the climate crisis. Top officials say it would open the floodgates to other single-issue debates on topics like health care and abortion rights, and also worry that it could harm the eventual nominee in the general election by alienating voters in states that rely on the fossil fuel industry, per HuffPost.

  • The committee voted in favor of a separate resolution to sanction a less-formal climate forum, similar to the town halls that CNN and MSNBC will be hosting this fall.

Driving the news: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who sought to make climate change the centerpiece of the campaign, dropped out of the presidential race just one day before the vote. His advocacy has helped elevate the issue to a degree unseen in prior cycles.

What they're saying ... A coalition of grassroots climate activists, including the Sunrise Movement, Greenpeace and 350.org, said in a statement:

"Nearly half a million grassroots activists pushed their DNC members to support a full-fledged climate debate between the candidates. It's proof of their grassroots power that the resolutions committee advanced something we believe will encourage more direct debate on the climate crisis by allowing multi-candidate forums with simultaneous 'discussion' between candidates. 
We will keep the pressure up on the DNC to pass these resolutions on Saturday. The climate crisis is too important to both our future and our ability to mobilize the voters we need to beat Donald Trump -- the DNC must use this opportunity to showcase the clear contrast between the Democratic candidates and Donald Trump on the climate crisis, whose only answer to this emergency is to deny that it is even happening."

Go deeper: Kamala Harris joins CNN climate change town hall after criticism from activists

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DNC votes against holding a climate change debate

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Staff/Getty Images

Democratic National Committee delegates voted Saturday against allowing 2020 presidential candidates to take part in a debate focused solely on climate change, the Mercury News reports.

Why it matters: This is a defeat for activists and the majority of Democratic presidential contenders, who have lobbied in favor of a climate-centric gathering. Already 12 official DNC-sanctioned debates have been announced, and CNN and MSNBC are scheduled to host presidential forums on climate change, though many argue that isn't enough.

Go deeperArrowAug 25, 2019

Climate crisis town hall: What you need to know

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Ten 2020 Democratic candidates took questions at a 7-hour CNN town hall Wednesday night about how to tackle a "climate crisis."

Why it matters: It was their chance to talk to a broad audience about proposals that some of them have unveiled in just the last few days. Scientific reports from the last 2 years suggest the world is at tipping point to confront the effects of global warming.

What they saidArrowUpdated Sep 5, 2019

Jay Inslee withdraws from 2020 presidential race

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks with reporters at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 10 in Des Moines. Photo: ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that he is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race.

Why it matters: Inslee was a longshot for the Democratic nomination, but his focus on climate change has helped elevate the issue to a degree unseen in prior cycles. He was the driving force behind what’s now a wider — though still unsuccessful — campaign for the Democratic National Committee to hold a debate on the topic. Inslee hit the donor threshold to qualify for September's Democratic debates, but did not meet the minimum polling requirements.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 22, 2019