Activists slam DNC over lack of debate focused on climate change

Activists slam DNC over lack of debate focused on climate change

Environmental groups and other liberal activists renewed their attacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Friday for not committing to sponsor a primary debate focused exclusively on climate change.

The DNC has already organized two debates, spread over four nights, but none of them have focused exclusively on climate change as demanded by some activists and 2020 candidates including Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeAndrew Yang promises mass pardon to those imprisoned for nonviolent marijuana offenses 13 states file lawsuit over Trump 'public charge' rule Harris unveils plan to combat domestic terrorism MORE.

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The activists’ ire was rekindled after the DNC released a messaging resolution on Friday titled “Resolution Recommitting the Democratic Party to the Work of Combating Climate Change and Creating Jobs by Growing our Clean Energy Economy.”

The document contains widely popular language within the party, including labeling climate change as a “present, urgent, and growing threat,” and bashes President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE and other Republican lawmakers for rolling back a slate of environmental protection regulations.

However, to the consternation of some activists, it did not include a commitment to hold a climate change-specific debate.

“Democratic candidates for President of the United States are demonstrating their commitment to tackling the issue of climate change, having already scheduled two televised forums on CNN and MSNBC to discuss the issue, and debating the issue during each of the DNC-sanctioned presidential primary debates,” the DNC resolution reads.

“Democrats will address the serious threat of climate change through bold and inclusive solutions that grow the clean energy economy and expand America’s middle class,” it adds. 

Activists have been pushing for months for a commitment from the DNC and its chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE to host an official climate change debate, saying the issue is important enough to warrant an event of its own.

In statements on Friday, they said the resolution falls short of their demands and accused the DNC of trying to avoid committing to a debate on climate change.

“DNC Chair Tom Perez’s blatant attempt to silence the growing momentum behind a climate debate is offensive, undemocratic, and a disservice to the very voters he’s supposed to represent,” Varshini Prakash, co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement said in a statement.

Sierra Club also hit the DNC.

“The people demand and deserve to hear a real debate on the climate crisis, not yet another DC leader obstructing the conversation,” Sierra Club Political Director Ariel Hayes added, accusing Perez of “looking for excuses to not hold a climate debate.”

Meanwhile, CREDO Action said it while two town halls on climate change being organized by CNN and MSNBC in September are signs of incremental progress, a DNC-sanctioned debate would provide the best platform to educate voters about the candidates’ environmental plans.

“Tom Perez needs to realize that this resolution is a blatant mockery of one of one of the most serious problems of our time,” said CREDO Action campaign manager Jelani Drew-Davi. “Our climate is in crisis, but Perez put forward a recommitment resolution that's purely symbolic rather than pushing for real, bold action.”

The DNC insists the resolution does not close the door to sponsoring an event on the topic, and that a climate debate will be discussed among members later this month. 

“This is a resolution discussing the importance of combating climate change. There are multiple other resolutions that address a climate change debate or forum. They'll all be discussed at the meeting later this month,” DNC spokesman David Bergstein said in a statement to The Hill. 

The DNC said in another resolution that if it ultimately decides not to sponsor a climate change debate, candidates are “free to participate in any and all forums or debates focused on Climate Change sponsored by other groups.”

Several Democrats running for president have agreed with the activists’ calls for a debate on the topic. Inslee is among the chief advocates for a climate debate and has feuded with the DNC over its current position. 

"This anti-climate debate resolution is unacceptable,” Inslee, who has made climate change the cornerstone of his White House bid, said in a statement regarding the DNC resolution. “Climate change is not a small marginal issue; it is an all-encompassing issue that affects everything we care about as Democrats — our health, our economy, our national security and more. We need a full debate of the candidates' positions on this issue.”