Nearly 200,000 Americans Demand That Climate Change Be Front And Center During Presidential Debates

Washington, D.C. — Nearly 200,000 Americans are demanding immediate action to mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change by ensuring that climate change is a centerpiece of the presidential debates.

The 195,854 individuals signed on to petitions from a coalition of organizations fighting for bold action on climate change, one which read: “The climate crisis is here. That’s why an overwhelming majority of Americans want bold climate action, and it’s why climate change must be a focus of the debates. If you agree, send the moderators a clear message.” 

Voters know that the climate crisis is here. That is why an overwhelming majority of Americans want bold climate action. 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. 

Despite undeniable evidence that the climate crisis is here – and already impacting our country’s health, economy, and national security, debate moderators have largely ignored the issue for more than 20 years.  In 2016, there was not a single question about climate change or global warming during the presidential and vice-presidential debates.

There is no indication that 2020 will be different. When debate moderator Chris Wallace released his list of topics, climate was not included. If we are to address the ever-growing dangers of the climate crisis, candidates must be pressed to lay out their plans, and voters deserve to hear directly from the candidates.

Organizations participating in this debate call to action include:

  • Earth Uprising
  • Daily Kos
  • NextGen America
  • Sunrise Movement
  • Evergreen Action
  • Climate Power 2020
  • DNC Climate Council
  • Environmental Defense Fund Action
  • Moms Clean Air Force
  • Climate Hawks Vote
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Sierra Club
  • Roots Action Education Fund
  • End Climate Silence
  • Generation Progress

Calling for action to address climate change is not a partisan issue. Research from Stanford University in August of 2020 found that 68% of voters want the US government to do more about global warming — with 82% saying the government should at least do a moderate amount to address the climate crisis, an all-time high for public opinion on the issue. While Pew, in March, found concern over climate change growing with 60% now viewing it as a significant threat, up 7 points from 2016 and 16 points from 2009. And scientists worldwide are telling us we must act: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must cut nearly half global emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

Ahead of the presidential and vice-presidential debates, 71 Members of the House of Representatives, 37 Senators, and 45 progressive and climate organizations called on the Commission on Presidential Debates or the debate moderators themselves to make the climate crisis a central focus of the debates.