The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Climate Affects Every Topic for First Presidential Debate. It Cannot Be Ignored on Tuesday.

Climate is inextricably linked to each of the debate’s stated topics and its exclusion as a priority is unjustifiable.


Today, Chris Wallace released the topics for the first presidential debate, ignoring the most pressing issue impacting the long term health, safety, and prosperity of the country: climate change.

With fires continuing to rage in the West and extreme storms devastating the Gulf Coast, the midwest, and the northeast, it's impossible to ignore the importance of the climate crisis on people's lives. Climate has an outsized effect on every topic important to voters.

"Voters across the country are already living with the realities of the climate crisis - supercharged hurricanes, climate fires, Derechos, and other extreme weather events," said Climate Power 2020 Executive Director Lori Lodes. "Chris Wallace and the other debate moderators ignored the climate crisis completely in 2016 -- it's unacceptable for that to happen again. Too much is at stake to overlook the consequences of the climate crisis any longer. Whether it's the contrast between the candidates' records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, racial justice, or the economy --all of the topics relate to the climate crisis and the need for bold action to address it."

Climate remains a top priority for the majority of battleground state voters and must be included as a key focus in all of the debates. The climate crisis is linked to each of the topics for the first debate --giving Wallace ample opportunities to pose questions on the most pressing crisis of our lifetimes:

  • Trump and Biden Records: There is perhaps no difference starker in the candidates' records than how each approaches science and the need to address the climate crisis. Donald Trump recently questioned the science behind climate change and has no plan to mitigate the crisis' impacts. Joe Biden has a long record of taking climate action and has put forward a bold plan to transition our country to a clean energy economy that creates good-paying, union jobs and addresses environmental justice.
  • The Supreme Court: The right to clean air and water will be in peril if President Trump is allowed to install another pro-polluter, anti-science judge to the Supreme Court -- underscoring how critical the politics of climate are in the final weeks of the 2020 election.
  • COVID-19: More than 200,000 people in the U.S. are dead, and Donald Trump still doesn't have a plan to address the pandemic -- which is made worse by pollution and environmental injustices. Just as he has repeatedly denied the science of climate change, Donald Trump has called the coronavirus a "hoax.".
  • The Economy: While we are still dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it's important to understand how each candidate plans to rebuild our economy and what, if any role, clean energy will play in that recovery. Investing in clean energy is supported by the vast majority of Americans, regardless of party, and is viewed as helping to address climate change while also creating millions of jobs.
  • "Race and Violence in Our Cities": Climate justice is racial justice. The Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities targeted by police brutality are too often the same communities suffering from decades of legacy pollution, as well as the ones most vulnerable to extreme weather. We cannot solve one of these crises without solving the other.
  • The Integrity of the Election: Americans have the right to have their voices heard at the ballot box -- and the majority of Americans support candidates who believe in science and want to take bold climate action. The ongoing efforts by President Trump and Republicans to suppress the votes of Black, Brown, and Indigenous Americans are intersectional to the climate crisis as it is these communities who pay the steepest price because of climate change and environmental injustices.

Climate Power 2020 is putting the Trump administration on defense every single day for ignoring experts, refusing to believe in science, surrendering our government to big oil executives, and gutting public health protections, all at the expense of future generations. The 2020 presidential election is the defining moment for how our nation addresses the climate crisis--our leaders must be emboldened to take immediate action on climate change and to build a just and equitable economy. The time to act is now. Learn more: