Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. of the Hip Hop Caucus in front of the DNC on June 12. DNC chair Tom Perez said the party will not host an official primary debate on the climate crisis, and will restrict candidates from participating in third-party climate debates. In response, people gathered at the DNC headquarters in Washington, DC, to demand the party reverse its stance.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. of the Hip Hop Caucus in front of the DNC on June 12. DNC chair Tom Perez said the party will not host an official primary debate on the climate crisis, and will restrict candidates from participating in third-party climate debates. In response, people gathered at the DNC headquarters in Washington, DC, to demand the party reverse its stance. (Photo: MaryFrances Vorbach/Greenpeace)

'We Don't Have Time for This': Activists at Party Headquarters Demand DNC Hold Climate Debate

"We're not giving up—and we're not settling for soundbites. We demand action."

Eoin Higgins

We want a climate debate. 

That's the message from over a dozen progressive groups and organizations who descended on the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Wednesday to demand the party devote a debate to the climate crisis in the presidential primary debates.

The demonstration featured speeches and the delivery of 200,000 petitions to the DNC demanding the party provide a space for candidates to discuss how they will handle the crisis.

"The DNC is making it clear that the adults who got us into this crisis are unwilling to be the leaders to now solve this problem," U.S. Youth Climate Strike national finance director Karla Stephan said in a statement.

"We're not giving up—and we're not settling for soundbites," said Stephan. "We demand action."

The protest is a direct response to a Tuesday Medium post from DNC chair Tom Perez, who wrote that it would be unfair to prioritize one issue over others. The DNC "must remain neutral in both practice and perception," wrote Perez.

"If we change our guidelines at the request of one candidate who has made climate change their campaign's signature issue, how do we say no to the numerous other requests we've had?" Perez wrote. "How do we say no to other candidates in the race who may request debates focused on an issue they've made central to their own campaigns?"

However, as The Daily Beast's Gideon Resnick pointed out, the climate crisis isn't seen as a marginal issue to the party's base.

The progressive argument against Perez is that a debate around climate change does not amount to a simple "pet issue," but rather one that voters and candidates alike have prioritized as an all-encompassing threat impacting people's everyday lives.

Green groups sounded off on the DNC decision in a series of statements.

"We can't wait another four years for the Democratic Party to start taking the climate crisis seriously."
—Brandy Doyle

"The irony of Tom Perez and the Democratic National Committee rejecting a climate debate while holding the upcoming debate in Miami, a city already impacted by storms and sea level rise, is not lost on us," said 350 Action's North America director Tamara Toles O'Laughlin. 

"The DNC is effectively denying the will of the people, when really they should've learned lessons from the 2016 election," added O'Laughlin. "All of us deserve to know how the next U.S. president plans to act on Day One to protect our health, safety, and democracy."

Time is running out, said CREDO Action campaign manager Brandy Doyle. 

"We don't have time for this," said Doyle. "We can't wait another four years for the Democratic Party to start taking the climate crisis seriously."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

UN Chief Reminds Leaders of Need for 'Clear and Unambiguous Commitment' to 1.5°C

"There is no pathway to this goal without the leadership of the G20," he said after a disagreement over a climate communiqué.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Climate Change Is Here,' Says Oregon Governor, 'And We Have to Take Action'

As wildfires devour her state, the Democrat declares that the climate emergency is "like a hammer hitting us in the head."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Hello Somebody!' Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Campaigns for Nina Turner in Cleveland

"I think it's extremely clear that Nina Turner is the candidate in this race that answers to the people of Ohio first and foremost."

Jessica Corbett ·


Medicare for All Advocates Take to the Streets of Over 50 US Cities

"How can we have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when we live in constant fear of illness, bankruptcy, or homelessness because of the outrageous for-profit healthcare system?"

Jessica Corbett ·


Thousands Join Budapest Pride Parade to Protest Attacks on LGBTQ+ Hungarians

"A lot has happened over the last few years, and it's time to show that we're not okay with it," said one of the organizers.

Jessica Corbett ·