By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – As candidates continued on their quest for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election, those attending the first primary debate this week established climate change as a major issue to be discussed during the campaign, but there was disagreement on the plan to combat global warming or sea level rise.
“We have all put out highly similar visions on climate,” South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said on Tuesday night. “We will deal with climate if and only if we win the presidency.”
One of the biggest disagreement surrounding climate change in the two-night debate was probably, between former Vice President Joe Biden and Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, was about each candidates’ program.
While Biden’s climate plan calls for a ‘100 percent’ clean-energy economy by 2050 and spending $1.7 trillion on programs, Inslee stated that a sustainable economy should be in place by 2030 and called for a much larger investment in combating the effects of climate change, of $9 trillion.
“Middle-ground solutions like the vice president has proposed or sort of average-sized things are not going to save us. Too little, too late is too dangerous,” said Inslee during the debate, being supported by most of the other candidates present.
Another moment of tension between the Democratic hopefuls was when Biden said, if elected, he would ‘rejoin’ the Paris Agreement.
“Nobody should get applause for rejoining the Paris Climate Accords. That is kindergarten,”
argued New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. According to Booker every decision by the U.S. government, from its trade deals to its economic policies, must take into account the effects of climate change.
“The majority of this problem is outside the United States, but the only way we’re going to deal with this is if the United States leads,” Booker argued.
Although the U.S. is only responsible for fifteen percent of global emissions, data shows that it is the second largest polluting country in the world, only behind China.
While the majority of the Democratic candidates agree that the U.S. must find a solution to decrease the effects of climate change, they disagree as to what steps to take about one of the world’s most unfriendly environment sectors: the fossil-fuel industry
Inslee along with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders see the oil and gas industry as one of the biggest obstacles for reducing climate change effects. “What do you do with an industry that knowingly—for billions of dollars of short-term profits—is destroying this planet?” said Sanders during first night of debates.
On the other side of the issue are the governors of Montana, Steve Bullock and Colorado, John Hickenlooper. Bullock warned that criticizing fossil-fuel companies could hurt their employees.
“As we transition to this clean energy economy, you have got to recognize there are folks that have spent their whole life powering our country,” said Bullock during the debate. “And far too often Democrats sound like they’re part of the problem.”
And then there were candidates who believe that there is very little the U.S. can do.
“We like to act as if we’re (responsible for) 100 percent. Even if we were to curb our emissions dramatically, the Earth is going to get warmer,” stated entrepreneur, Andrew Yang. “We are too late. We are ten years too late.”
His solution to global warming and sea level rise is simple. “We need to start moving our people to higher ground—and the best way to do that is to put economic resources into your hands so you can protect yourself and your families,” he said.
As candidates from both the Republican and Democratic parties debate ideas for the 2020 Presidential campaign, climate change is sure to be a top issue among candidates and voters.
The question however is will the candidates have plans that will meet the needs of those affected by global warming and sea level rise.