After many years of seeing climate change content shut out of televised debates during U.S. federal elections, Democrats in the House of Representatives are demanding the topic become a “centrepiece” of this year’s presidential and vice-presidential debates.
“In 2016, debate moderators did not ask a single question about the climate crisis,” Huffington Post reports. Now, “dozens of lawmakers want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
The 70 sitting members of Congress led by Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) wrote to the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates last Wednesday, citing the climate crisis as “one of the most pressing and all-consuming issues currently facing our country.”
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“Given the dire nature of the crisis, we ask that you break precedent and publicly call on the moderators to include climate in the topics that will be addressed during the debates,” the letter states. “We understand there are four central crises that the presidential and vice-presidential candidates must address: the ongoing pandemic, a struggling economy, racial injustice, and the climate crisis. But of these four, there is one which will exacerbate each of the other three, if not addressed immediately.”
Levin, a former environmental lawyer who entered Congress in 2018, told HuffPost it would be a huge disservice to American voters if debate moderators failed again to put any climate questions to the presidential and vice-presidential nominees. “I felt that it was important that we emphasize that this is no longer an issue that’s looming in the distance,” he said. “It’s something that needs to be addressed, and there are profound differences on this issue between the two [presidential] candidates.”
Last week, the Commission announced the schedule for this year’s debates: September 29 in Cleveland, moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News; October 7 in Salt Lake City, moderated by Susan Page of USA Today; October 15 in Miami, moderated by Steve Scully of C-SPAN; and a vice-presidential debate October 22 in Nashville, moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC News.