Climate change suddenly matters in the 2020 race. Are the candidates ready?

By | May 8, 2019

Bill McKibben writes:

For three decades in American politics, climate change has been the issue that wasn’t. Even as the temperature steadily rose, and evidence mounted that it was human behavior—and human policies—that were driving this change, candidates mostly deflected. And it wasn’t hard: During the 2016 general election, no journalist even asked the presidential candidates a debate question on the topic.

But that’s not the case this time. Climate change matters for Democratic voters: A Monmouth University poll last month showed the issue as the second most important to Iowa caucus-goers after health care, and a CNN national poll found that 82 percent of Democratic respondents said it’s “very important” that their party’s nominee for president supports taking “aggressive action” to slow the effects of climate change, the highest support among several items on the progressive wish list. Most of the candidates seem convinced it’s a key weakness for Trump, and the front-runners have all embraced the issue. (The latest to weigh in, Beto O’Rourke, chose climate as the subject of his first comprehensive policy plan: a $5 trillion proposal for clean-energy infrastructure.) The question is not whether the candidates are going to talk about global warming, but how.

As the race takes shape, two key questions are materializing: What do climate-motivated voters really want? And how is the issue likely to change the race? [Continue reading…]

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