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Petition Demanding 2020 Democrats Hold Climate Debate Reaches 30,000 Signatures in Just 48 Hours

"It's no longer sufficient to have a single token environmental question that 2020 candidates get to brush off with a soundbite."

Young demonstrators join the International Youth Climate Strike event at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, March 15, 2019. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

A petition calling on 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to hold a climate-specific debate has garnered over 30,000 signatures in just around 48 hours, providing evidence of the widespread grassroots pressure on White House hopefuls to offer bold and detailed solutions to the ecological crisis.

"Let's be sure we hear how candidates plan to stop companies accountable for polluting our water and air and what they think about opening up federal land to fracking, drilling, and trophy hunting."
—U.S. Youth Climate Strike

Led by the U.S. Youth Climate Strike team, the petition aims to "ensure environmental issues from climate change, access to clean water, environmental racism, and everything in between that are disproportionately impacting people of color and working class folks are given the serious attention they deserve."

"With the magnitude of the oncoming climate crisis it's no longer sufficient to have a single token environmental question that 2020 candidates get to brush off with a soundbite. We need an entire debate on environmental policies," reads the petition, which will be delivered to 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and the Democratic National Committee.

"Let's be sure we hear how candidates plan to stop companies accountable for polluting our water and air and what they think about opening up federal land to fracking, drilling, and trophy hunting," the document continues.

As of this writing, 30,007 people have signed the petition.

On Tuesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee became the first 2020 presidential candidate to express support for a climate-specific debate with a petition of his own.

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"Each 2020 nominee needs to have a concrete plan to address climate change—and we deserve to hear those plans," Inslee wrote in an email to supporters.

As Common Dreams reported last December, the DNC announced it will hold 12 total presidential primary debates.

Mounting pressure on the DNC to schedule a climate-only debate comes as the youth-led Sunrise Movement and other environmental groups continue to mobilize nationwide to build grassroots support for the Green New Deal.

In 2016, climate change almost never came up during presidential debates. As scientists warn only rapid and drastic action to slash carbon emissions will be enough to avert planetary disaster, youth climate leaders are working to make sure this doesn't happen again.

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