Presidential candidates need to tackle climate change in Miami debates

Presidential candidates need to tackle climate change in Miami debates
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All across the country, climate change is impacting people’s livelihoods and environment. The climate crisis is a particularly relevant issue for Miami, which is already seeing more devastating hurricanes, year-round mosquitoes, and sunny-day flooding. 

We need to combat this challenge head on with bold action, including achieving a 100 percent clean economy by 2050. A 100 percent clean economy — that means transforming the entire economy, from the utility and energy sectors, to transportation and agriculture — is what the experts say is necessary in the U.S. and worldwide to give us the best shot of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change and protecting our planet for generations to come. 

The good news? Americans overwhelmingly support a clean energy economy, which will improve public health while creating well-paying American jobs. This goal is not only essential, but achievable: in just the last decade, solar energy prices have plunged nearly 90 percent, wind power is almost 70 percent cheaper, and the cost of lithium-ion batteries has dropped 30 percent in just the last year. 

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Soon voters across the country will get to hear directly from presidential candidates as they tune into the first Democratic debates, and they will expect insights into where the candidates stand on the range of critical issues facing our families and our country.

No issue is trending in importance more than climate change: Polls show that voters want a leader who is focused on tackling the climate crisis.  The American electorate understands that we need bold action and real solutions now.

Candidates have been crisscrossing the country listening to voters from Iowa to New Hampshire to California talking about the climate change impacts they are seeing outside their own windows, and about the essential challenge of delivering a clean, healthy future for people and the planet. The candidates are getting the message — many of the contenders have shared ambitious plans, and have talked about climate solutions on TV and at campaign events.

The 20 Democratic presidential candidates appearing at the debates will be looking for opportunities on the national debate stage to talk about climate, and they deserve to have every opportunity.  Whether it’s zero-emission vehicles, agriculture, coastal protection, sustainable fishing or clean energy R&D, the climate issue cuts across every sector of the economy and every part of the country.  

We know that to succeed in tackling this global challenge, the U.S. must play a leading role. The Trump administration has willingly and perilously abdicated our country’s place at the vanguard of climate action. Other nations have since stepped up, but U.S. leadership remains critical to raising the ambition of our global partners and cutting pollution as fast as we can. How candidates reverse the Trump administration’s course and articulate a vision of U.S. action will be key to earning voters’ support.

Voters watching the Miami debates and the upcoming months on the primary campaign trail to see how the candidates make the case to the American people that they will prioritize bold, innovative solutions to the climate crisis from the very first day of their presidency. Voters are demanding it, and our future depends on it. 

Joe Bonfiglio is the president of EDF Action, the Environmental Defense Fund’s political arm.