The climate crisis has inspired hundreds of thousands of young people to flood the streets in protest, but has only led to about 30 minutes of discussing between candidates during the first four official debates, according to the New York Times. And it didn't get much better on the fifth democratic debate on Wednesday (November 20).
Shortly after the first hour of debate, some 2020 Democratic presidential candidates spoke about the climate crisis, but it didn't last long. The moment started when Rachel Maddow asked Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard about the topic, and Gabbard said it's time to break "hyper-partisanship" and get climate policies passed. Philanthropist Tom Steyer, who has spent millions of dollars combatting climate change, said he was the "only candidate on this stage who will say, climate change is the number one priority for me." He said that, on his first day of his presidency, he would declare a state of emergency and make climate change part of his foreign police before name-checking former Vice President Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren for not following suit.
"I don’t really need a kind of lecture from my friend," Biden said in response. "While I was passing a first climate change bill and was in fact a game changer, while I managed the $90 billion recovery plan investing more money in infrastructure that related to clean energy than any time we’ve ever done it, my friend was introducing more coal mines and produced more coal around the world, according to the press, than all of Great Britain produces."
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, for his part, thanked Steyer for spending money to combat the climate crisis.
And Senator Bernie Sanders? He didn't even like the question. "Your question said, 'What are you going to do in decades?' We don't have decades. What the scientists are telling us is that if we don't get our act together within the next eight or nine years, we're talking about cities all over the world. Major cities going under water. We're talking about increased drought. We're talking about increased extreme weather disturbances."
It seems that all candidates agree: Something needs to be done to combat the climate crisis. But during this debate they haven't given a ton of concrete answers about exactly how to do that.