On Wednesday, September 4th at 5pm ET, CNN will host a historic Climate Crisis Town Hall featuring ten Democratic presidential hopefuls. Candidates will answer questions from the moderators and the audience about how they will tackle one of the greatest challenges of our time and build a better future.
Here’s 7 things Green For All wants to know:
Is their climate plan bold enough and does it respond quickly enough to meet the scale of the problem? We need to transform every sector of society in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and we need to do it quickly. We need immediate, short-term action to rapidly curtail runaway emissions, coupled with long-term planning to reach our mid-century goals. Half-measures and promises set too far into the future won’t address the problem at the scale that is needed. We need bold political will, immediate action, and long-term vision to meet science-based targets for emissions reduction.
Will candidates hold polluters accountable? The fossil fuel industry is one of the most profitable industries in the world, and they knowingly polluted communities for decades while intentionally casting doubt over climate change and stalling progress. The cost of pollution is not free. Struggling families are paying for increased medical bills for pollution related diseases. Low-wage Americans suffer the rising cost of energy bills to heat and cool their homes in extreme temperatures. And taxpayers are picking up multi-billion dollar tabs to clean up after increasingly frequent and severe disasters. It’s time polluters pay to clean up their mess. We want to hear that the candidates will end fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks for mega-polluters, and enforce environmental protections. We also hope to hear how they will put a price on carbon that shifts money from polluter pockets toward rebuilding the communities that have been polluted.
Will candidates prioritize investment in disproportionately impacted communities? Climate change affects us all, but it affects some more than others. Addressing climate change will require a mass mobilization of public funding and resources -- resources that should be prioritized for underserved and disproportionately impacted communities and closing the divide between the eco-haves and eco-have nots. We hope to hear how candidates will deploy resources in low-income communities and communities of color to deliver net positive environmental and economic benefits.
When they cut carbon, will they cut inequality too? The climate crisis is not the only crisis we face. Racial and economic inequality is a pervasive disease affecting access to healthcare, housing, jobs and economic opportunities, and transit and mobility. Our next president will have a plan for deploying green economy solutions to improve people’s daily lives and create a better future for all. For example, they could deploy resources for public transportation and clean vehicle infrastructure to not only curb emissions, but also help isolated communities and underserved neighborhoods reach jobs and healthcare services. They could put resources into creating affordable housing near transit hubs and leverage green infrastructure contracts to bolster small business. We want to hear how they will address racial and economic inequality in the process of building the green economy, to know that this future will be for all.
Does their plan protect impacted workers? A shift to a clean economy will require a shift for our workforce. Green jobs are some of the fastest growing jobs in our economy. Even so, fossil fuel industry workers will need a new way to earn a living and provide for their families. Our next president should have a plan for a planned and thoughtful transition that addresses the needs of impacted workers.
Will their plan ensure that green jobs are good jobs and build a fair economy? Candidates should ensure climate investments and green infrastructure projects are accountable to fair labor and workforce standards, such as providing a prevailing wage and benefits, local and targeted hiring women and minorities, and contracting with women, minority, and veteran-owned businesses. It’s not enough to create jobs, they must be good jobs. All workers should have the ability to work safely, with dignity, and prosper in the clean economy. In addition, thousands of people who are returning home from federal prison thanks to the passage of the First Step Act, should be provided with a fair chance at employment. We will be listening for how candidates will remove barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated individuals and help put the people who most need jobs, to work building a more sustainable future.
- How will they use their leadership to bring people together and enact real reform? Bold ideas need to be coupled with a strong plan to realistically implement these changes. While there are many things candidates could do by executive action, their more ambitious proposals will require Congressional action. And no matter who assumes office, they will inherit a deeply divided country. We want to hear how the candidates will unite the country and bring people together on both sides of the aisle to enact real reforms.
Tune in live for CNN’s Climate Crisis Town Hall on Wednesday, September 4th at 5pm ET to hear the candidates discuss their plans, and follow Green For All on Facebook and Twitter to get our take on how well the Democratic presidential hopefuls addressed these key points.
Green For All is a nonprofit program of The Dream Corps, working to build an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. We advance solutions to the climate crisis that ensure people hit first and worst by pollution, do not benefit last and least from the solutions.