10 Democrats to fight to claim climate mantle at CNN forum

10 Democrats to fight to claim climate mantle at CNN forum
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Ten Democratic candidates will take the stage Wednesday to talk at length about their plans for tackling one of the most politically charged topics concerning liberal voters: climate change.

The CNN forum, which will span at least seven hours, marks the first-ever presidential primary event dedicated exclusively to energy and the environment. 


White House hopefuls will speak for about 40 minutes each, and in doing so, they’ll be battling for the title of top environmental candidate. 

The list of candidates comprises former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenKaty Perry and her 'Firework' close out inauguration TV special Arizona Republican's brothers say he is 'at least partially to blame' for Capitol violence Tom Hanks: After years of 'troubling rancor,' Inauguration Day 'is about witnessing the permanence of our American ideal' MORE, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), businessman Andrew YangAndrew YangYang to quarantine after campaign staffer tests positive for COVID-19 Andrew Yang sparks Twitter uproar with pro-bodega video Yang announces run for New York City mayor MORE, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Biden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports MORE (D), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Sens. Cory BookerCory BookerSenate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration Officials brace for second Trump impeachment trial MORE (D-N.J.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats swear in three senators to gain majority Congressional leaders present Biden, Harris with flags flown during inauguration LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing MORE (D-Minn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Sanders's inauguration look promptly gets a bobblehead Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Top Senate Democrat backs waiver for Biden Pentagon nominee Consumer bureau director resigns after Biden's inauguration MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisKaty Perry and her 'Firework' close out inauguration TV special Biden's first foreign leader call to be with Canada's Trudeau on Friday Harris now 'the most influential woman' in American politics MORE (D-Calif.). 

The event starts at 5 p.m. and is seen as a compromise for Democratic presidential candidates who for months have been calling for a 2020 climate debate. 

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has long opposed the idea of a single-issue debate and has prohibited candidates from participating in any unsanctioned debates, shutting down any chance that the candidates might be able to face each other on stage on this issue. Instead, candidates on Wednesday will talk one-on-one with a CNN moderator and take audience questions.

Roughly 10 minutes of debate time in the past two debates have focused on climate. 

Climate change has become a top voting issue among Democrats, according to polls, and Wednesday’s forum could be a chance for candidates to emerge as the next climate candidate — a slot vacated by Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeThousands of troops dig in for inauguration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters Legislatures boost security after insurrection, FBI warnings MORE (D).

Inslee, who released a six-part climate action plan, dropped out of the presidential race in late August after he failed to make the cut for the DNC’s third presidential primary debate, scheduled for Sept. 12. 

Many environmentalists say Sanders’s proposal is the most robust. 

“Bernie’s plan he just released stands out for both the level of ambition and for the need to tackle economic and racial injustice in this country,” said Lauren Maunus, a policy and political coordinator for the Sunrise Movement, the youth climate action group that helped shape the Green New Deal. 

Sanders’s plan and his environmental record also make him the top-rated candidate, according to rankings compiled by Greenpeace.

Other participants waited until the last hour to release comprehensive climate plans. Buttigieg and Harris put forth their own individual climate-focused proposals Wednesday morning, the day of the event.

Booker rolled out a climate plan Tuesday, building upon his earlier environmental justice proposal and setting a 2045 deadline for achieving net-zero emissions. 

Booker’s latest proposal boasts a $3 trillion investment spread over a number of areas, including $400 million in clean energy research, $100 billion to promote conservation farming practices, and $50 billion for an environmental justice fund that could be used to get lead out of water and clean up hazardous waste sites. 


Castro also unveiled the first portions of his climate plan on Tuesday, which would decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2045. The plan also includes many elements considered part of the Green New Deal, such as universal health care and a $15 minimum wage. His campaign said three more climate proposals are forthcoming.

Castro previously proposed a civil rights bill for environmental issues, including more legal mechanisms for going after polluters whose actions disproportionately hurt communities of color.

Warren announced Tuesday evening she would be adopting Inslee's overarching climate plan. While Warren had previously released various policy proposals focusing on specific issues related to climate, adopting Inslee's plan gifts her with a robust climate policy going into Wednesday's forum.

Many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates will also appear at a climate forum hosted by MSNBC later this month.

This post was updated 8/4/19