This is Part II of our series covering the September 4 CNN Climate Town Hall from the perspective of a teen climate activist. Click here to read Part I.

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg opened his statements by saying that tackling climate change will be a more difficult endeavor than World War II. He also went on to theorize that Trump will go down in history as being the man who failed to combat this crisis. 

He did not explain much of his plans for climate change mitigation, and the plans that he did share seemed to be similar to other candidates. He did, however, speak intellectually and passionately. 

Buttigieg called people to question their stance on climate change by reflecting on their own religious beliefs. He told the audience and viewers all over the country, “what do you suppose God thinks of that?” after describing the current state of our environment

Using this religious perspective may help him to gain the vote of more moderate or conservative democrats. Unifying the democratic party is a large pillar of Buttigieg’s campaign. 

Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar came off as more moderate than other candidates when presenting her ideas. She said that she would like to implement a tax on carbon emissions. 

The majority of her plan centered around executive action, which is an important aspect of this discussion.

Klobuchar also explained that Democrats need to wake up and realize that carbon energy is not going to disappear as quickly as they would like. Her plan charts a path to zero emissions by 2050.

The problem with this is that the consequences of not addressing until 2050 are dire. The United Nations has released a report explaining that unless carbon emissions are greatly reduced over the next 11 years, the effects of climate change will be both irreversible and deadly. We need to be taking drastic action to face this drastic issue. Climate change should not be a partisan issue nor one we approach in moderation.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris stood with climate activists and political figures pushing for climate change mitigation by vowing to abolish the Senate filibuster if Republicans refuse to pass the Green New Deal. 

Harris also spent the night going after Trump, criticizing his lack of care for environmental regulations. 

She was bold and determined, a personality that not many brought to the stage that night. Now she just needs to show Americans how she can follow through with these fearless claims.  

Cory Booker

Booker spent his 40 minutes  on the program speaking with gusto and determination. He bashed Republicans for not prioritizing climate change mitigation while also elaborating that some young Republicans have accepted the reality of our climate situation. 

He also said that despite how devastating climate change is, it gives us the opportunity to create jobs and save the planet. 

The Booker climate plan costs $3 trillion which makes his plan the second cheapest, next to Biden. 

It does not seem like Booker is interested in taking radical action. I don’t think his plan stood out in any way when compared to many of the other candidates. 

Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang used this opportunity to push his “freedom dividend,” which is a key part of his platform. 

According to the Yang 2020 official website, a freedom dividend is “universal basic income of $1,000/month, $12,000 a year, for every American adult over the age of 18.” During the climate town hall, Yang explained that with this dividend Americans will have the time and funds to think about and work on solutions to issues like climate change. 

The main problem with this is that climate change is primarily not the fault of consumers. With this $12,000 a year people can buy all the reusable grocery bags and metal straws that they want, but this would not get to the root of the problem. 

Whoever is elected president needs to hold industries accountable for their actions and emissions. Though Yang is a very unique candidate, it does not seem like he is planning on holding industries accountable, or at least he did not demonstrate that during the Town Hall. 

He also claimed that is would be impossible to reduce our carbon emissions without relying on nuclear energy. The topic of nuclear energy was a very divided issue with Warren and Sanders opposing the use. 

The Climate Town Hall provided an important opportunity for the candidates to speak about climate policy plans. While many candidates have similar plans, some used this opportunity to show voters how their ideas are unique. I look forward to seeing how they all continue to fight for climate justice. This is the most important issue for many young voters, and it is definitely the most important issue for me.