Climate Finally Got a Debate Question. Trump Used it to Prove He’s a Climate Denier

Washington, D.C. — For the first time in two decades, the candidates running for president were asked substantive questions on the climate crisis and their plans to combat climate change. Joe Biden used his time to address the right to clean air and water and the need to create clean energy jobs, while Trump doubled-down on his climate denial to question the universally-accepted science that mankind is fueling climate change.

Wallace’s questions on the climate fires raging in the West, fossil fuel emissions, and health and safety protections came after nearly 200,000 individuals across the country71 Members of Congress37 Senators, and 45 climate organizations forcefully called on debate moderators to focus on the biggest crisis of our lifetimes — the climate crisis — in their questioning.

Trump’s response — to dismiss the science that shows how climate change exacerbates extreme weather, disease and illnesses, economic security, and racial injustice — shows why moderators must continue to make climate a centerpiece of the debates.

“Because of activism and pressure from everyday Americans, elected leaders, and advocates, Chris Wallace couldn’t ignore the climate emergency facing our country,” said Lori Lodes, Executive Director of Climate Power 2020. “What these 11 minutes showed is that Trump is continuing to deny science, ignore experts, and putting the country at risk due to his inaction and corruption. Tonight further proves why climate must be a centerpiece of every debate and why the American people are demanding to hear more about candidates’ plans to address climate change.”

During the exchange, Trump reverted to a weak strategy of lying about his administration’s dismantling of health and climate safeguards and putting forward debunked theories about the Green New Deal. Instead of offering a single plan to combat the climate crisis, Trump proved he’s unable or unwilling to comprehend the magnitude of the climate crisis.

Biden offered a stark contrast to the president’s climate denial. Biden discussed his climate plan that focuses on reducing carbon emissions, reversing decades of environmental injustice, and creating good-paying clean energy jobs — all while giving a robust defense of the scientists and experts urging bold climate action.

This year has given us a stark preview of how extreme weather will continue to increase in both frequency and intensity. Right now, there are climate fires raging across the West, extreme temperatures bearing down across the country, and a record-breaking hurricane season impacting the Gulf and East coasts. This is an urgent moment for action and Americans are demanding action from their government.

According to a Yale survey from September, three-out-of-four voters want climate questions to be asked at the presidential debates. Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government should act more aggressively to combat climate change, and almost as many say the problem is already affecting their community in some way, in a June Pew Research Center survey.

An April Yale Program on Climate Change Communication survey also found that voters are 55 percent less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who opposes taking action on climate – liberal/moderate Republicans are 35 percentage points less likely to vote for a candidate opposing action.