CNN's seven-hour city hall on the climate crisis was not the debate that many activists had been demanding for months. However, the marathon event on Wednesday evening showed remarkable differences between the Democratic presidential candidates and gave voters a foretaste of how each candidate could approach climate policy in their election.
Two of the main problems in which the candidates took completely different positions were nuclear energy and the elimination of the filibuster. They also differed in fracking, the process for extracting natural gas for energy.
In the meantime, former Vice President Joe Biden led a controversial fundraiser that was scheduled for Thursday evening and was led by an oil manager. And Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) criticized the forum's focus on personal sacrifices – such as giving up meat or using plastic straws – and instead argued for the industry's responsibility for fossil fuels.
In successive sections from 5 p.m. until late at night, the candidates presented their climate plans and answered questions from moderators and selected viewers.
Climate change has become a major issue for democratic voters, and candidates are united in many ways. In the run-up to the forum, all candidates had published their own comprehensive climate plans.
Most have also expressed some support for the Green New Deal, a proposal to rapidly decarbonize the economy while creating mass jobs. They also remain behind in the Paris climate agreement, which President Donald Trump threatens to leave. And Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA), who focused his entire campaign on fighting global warming, was the focus of the event, despite having canceled the presidential race last month.
On Wednesday evening, candidates such as Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and former Housing Secretary Julián Castro Inslee warmly praised, and Warren went so far as to accept his detailed climate policy proposals.
"He said," Have them with you, "she joked." They are open sourcing companies. "
However, the forum gave the president room to work out important differences between their approaches to climate action. In the early evening, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) said she would shut down the Filibuster to ensure climate protection (the Senate's procedural rule provides for 60 votes instead of a simple majority).
If lawmakers "don't act as President of the United States (against climate change), I'm ready to get rid of the Filibuster to sign a Green New Deal," said Harris.
Abolishing the filibuster would require a buy-in from the Senate itself, which would complicate the process, but many activists and legislators alike have argued that large-scale climate change measures will not be implemented as long as the filibuster persists. Warren called for the filibuster to be terminated and numerous other candidates said they were open to the possibility.
However, not all of them are on board. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) disagreed with the idea during his round of surveys.
“I said we need a comprehensive reform of the filibuster. Budgetary compensation is the method we will use, ”Sanders said, arguing that his $ 16.3 trillion climate plan could go through without abolishing the process.
Nuclear energy was also a divisive issue. Sanders supports the end of nuclear energy in about a decade, arguing that "it doesn't make much sense for me to add more hazardous waste to this country."
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and entrepreneur Andrew Yang both advocated nuclear energy, claiming that the energy source that currently produces 20% of national electricity is still critical to achieving net zero emissions ,
Warren took a medium tone and set temporary support for nuclear power while not advocating new nuclear power plants. She said she supported the move away from nuclear dependency with an exit by 2035 at the latest.
Some candidates have also staked out their positions on fracking. Immediately before the forum, Sanders asked all Democrats for 2020 to support a federal fracking ban. Warren's campaign has announced that it would support such a ban. And on Wednesday evening Harris and former MP Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) made similar calls.
In contrast, Klobuchar and Biden commented on the topic: Klobuchar went so far as to advertise natural gas as a “transition fuel” that bridges the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies.
While the candidates did not agree on political elements, one person encountered an upcoming fundraiser. Biden had scheduled a Thursday with Andrew Goldman, co-founder of Western LNG, a fossil fuel company. Like many other competitors from 2020, Biden has taken on the promise of "No Fossil Fuel Money", with which donations from companies and executives in the field of fossil fuels are sworn off.
When CNN presenter Anderson confronted Biden about the fundraiser after an audience raised the issue, the former vice president argued that Goldman was "not a fossil fuel manager," according to his financial statements. Biden then said he needed to do more research on Goldman's business while one of his senior advisers, Symone Sanders, tweeted in defense of the candidate.
"Andrew Goldman is not a fossil fuel manager. He is not involved in day-to-day operations," she wrote. "He is neither a member of the board of directors of the company nor of the board of the portfolio company." Goldman is on the Western LNG website in the area " Leadership "listed second.
Biden has previously criticized its carbon footprints. Opponents like Sanders accused him of being “in the middle of the street” to fight the crisis. On Thursday morning it was unclear whether Biden would still participate in his planned evening fundraiser.