Democratic senators want NBC primary debate to focus on climate change

Democratic senators want NBC primary debate to focus on climate change
© Greg Nash

Three Senate Democrats are calling on NBC News to have its first presidential debate focus exclusively on climate change.

Sens. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzOvernight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications MORE (Hawaii), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 Senate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal MORE (R.I.) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichHealth care, spending bills fuel busy year for K Street Schumer introduces bill requiring GDP measure inequality Senators want FERC to protect critical infrastructure from Huawei threats MORE (N.M.) said in a letter to NBC's top brass that the 2016 debates improperly shortchanged a topic of high interest to Democratic voters.

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“There are many ways to address the climate crisis, and voters want to know what policies each candidate supports," the trio wrote in a letter to NBC News Chairman Andy Lack. "Voters deserve a vigorous debate with an informed moderator that can press candidates for detailed answers and hold them accountable."

Environmental groups and several 2020 candidates have also called for a climate-centric debate. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenEx-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Former Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball rips Warren over feud with Sanders MORE (D-Mass.) joined that chorus last week, following a similar request from Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeOur government and public institutions must protect us against the unvaccinated Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far 2019's political winners and losers — on both sides of the aisle MORE (D).

The senators said in Thursday's letter, first reported by the Daily Beast, that the 2016 debates devoted just five minutes to climate change, while recent polling shows the topic is of increasing concern to party voters.

“Democratic voters across the country have accepted the facts about climate change, are seeing its impacts, and are having real debates on solutions. In this consequential election year, it’s time for our candidates to do the same,” they wrote.

An April poll from CNN found that 82 percent of registered voters who identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents listed climate change as a "very important" top priority they would like to see as the focus of a presidential candidate.

The first 2020 Democratic primary debates are slated for the end of June.