The Youth Climate Strike is a worldwide movement of youth fighting for climate justice. What began with Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old girl protesting outside of the Swedish parliament, has become one of the largest movements for climate justice in history. There are now branches of the movement all over the world; one of the largest sects is the US Climate Strike.
In early April, the US Climate Strike branch partnered with MoveOn to host a petition that urged the Democratic National Convention to host a climate debate. This debate would discuss plans, policies, and legislation that presidential candidates intend to enact if they are elected to office. The petition received over 20,000 signatures in the first 24 hours of being posted and over the following months would receive support from almost every major Democratic candidate.
After months of ignoring the pleas of those asking for a climate debate, DNC chairperson Tom Perez decided to publish an essay on Medium explaining his stance. His defense was primarily rooted in the idea that the DNC does not have time for a climate debate. In the essay he speaks about how the DNC has agreed to do a total of 12 debates and to engage in every topic that is requested would be much too big a burden on the candidates.
The biggest problem with this argument is that many of the Democratic candidates have already supported the notion of a climate debate. In a twitter video Democratic candidate, Elizabeth Warren supported such a debate. When approached by a youth climate strike advocate at a Town Hall, candidate Beto O’Rourke supported a climate debate. When candidate Bernie Sanders was approached, he responded: “The answer is yes… there are very few issues more important than the survival of our planet.” Democratic candidates across the board love the idea of a debate focused on climate change mitigation. The DNC is actively denying this fact in order to focus on issues that they deem more “debate worthy”.
What could be more worthy of debate? Our planet is dying. The United Nations released a report explaining that unless carbon emissions are greatly reduced over the next 12 years, the effects of climate change will be irreversible and we will begin to see drastically deadly effects. The United States is one of the largest contributors to global carbon emissions, this is why so many believe that climate change mitigation needs to be at the forefront of the 2020 presidential election. A climate debate would help to educate voters about what candidates are interested in prioritizing the future of our planet.