(April 22, 2019) — Kirsten Gillibrand, Julián Castro, Jay Inslee, and Mike Gravel say they support a 2020 candidates’ debate on solutions to environmental problems, including climate change—but Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and others have remained silent on this idea so far.
Young people with Youth Climate Strike are leading this campaign, and it’s important that we take a minute to sign the petition to support them. See their original email below, and add your name to join more than 30,000 people who have already signed on.
On Earth Day we are writing on behalf of Youth Climate Strike because we need your signature on a brand-new petition.
One month ago, we helped to organize student climate strikes around the United States. It was so inspiring to see all of the positive responses and the media traction that we received for our kickoff strike on March 15, 2019, and therefore we are branching out and announcing our new campaign today to call upon the 2020 presidential candidates and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to commit to a debate or forum entirely around environmental issues.
Climate change is too urgent and important to continue to ignore, and because adults have been pushing it off for decades, we’re stepping up and calling upon the adults running for the presidency in 2020 to take it seriously.
With the magnitude of the oncoming climate crisis, it’s no longer sufficient to have a single token environmental question that 2020 candidates get to brush off with a soundbite. We need the 2020 candidates and DNC to commit to an entire debate on environmental policies.
You may have heard of the Youth Climate Strike on NPR or in The New York Times. Our first strike on March 15, 2019 was part of a massive global day of action where young people in 120+ countries came together to demand action on climate change.
As we approach the 2020 election, we recognize that time is running out to curb the worst effects of climate change, and therefore we believe it is the best time to ask the presidential candidates some tough but important questions about climate change and environmental policy. Furthermore, we will continue to strike to demand action from incumbent politicians and those that are running in 2019 and 2020, with our next countrywide strike on May 3, 2019.
Let’s ensure environmental issues—climate change, access to clean water, environmental racism, and everything in between—that disproportionately impact people of color and working-class folks are given the serious attention they deserve.
Let’s be sure we hear how candidates plan to hold companies accountable for polluting our water and air, and let’s ask them what they think about opening up federal land to fracking, drilling, and trophy hunting.
Let’s have an open mind as they discuss the ways we can shift to renewable energy while stressing equity and a just transition for frontline communities, specifically communities of color, low-income communities, and communities most reliant on fossil fuels.
The United Nations estimates that 62 million people worldwide were affected by extreme weather fueled by climate change.1 This is not ok.
Thank you for your support.
Haven Coleman, Karla Stephan, Isra Hirsi, Feliquan Charlemagne, Maddy Fernands, Anya Sastry, Salomée Levy, and the rest of the US Youth Climate Strike team
1. “Extreme weather affected 62 million people last year, UN climate change report says” CBS News, March 28, 2019
Extreme Weather Affected 62 Million People Last Year: UN Climate Change Report
(March 28, 2019) — United Nation’s Secretary-General António Guterres told world leaders to come to September’s climate summit in New York City with plans to take action on climate change, as the U.N.’s weather agency released its flagship report about global warming. The report said extreme weather last year hit 62 million people worldwide and forced 2 million people to relocate, as man-made climate change worsened.
“I’m telling leaders, don’t come with a speech, come with a plan,” Guterres said.
Guterres said climate change is a security and health issue for the world.
“The impact on public health is escalating,” Guterres said. “The combination of extreme heat and air pollution is proving increasingly dangerous.”
The World Meteorological Organization’s annual state of global climate report says Earth is nearly 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than when the industrial age started. World leaders are trying to limit warming to 3.6 degrees.
Emissions from burning fuels such as coal, gasoline and diesel for electricity and transportation are contributing to global warming that in turn brings more intense storms, floods and droughts.
“We have seen a growing amount of disasters because of climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. He said since 1998, about 4.5 billion around the world have been hurt by extreme weather.
Cyclone Idai, which just hit Mozambique, is a good example, but is too recent to be in the report, Taalas said.
The past four years were the warmest on record, according to the report. That includes 2018, the warmest La Niña year on record, Taalas said. La Niña, a natural cooling of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide, usually cools global temperature a bit.
“Last year, in the United States alone, we saw 14 weather- and climate-related disasters where the devastation cost more than $1 billion dollars each, with a total of some $49 billion,” Guterres said.
The 44-page report says:
- Floods affected 35 million people.
- Drought hit another 9 million people, adding to the problem of growing enough food to feed the world.
- Ocean heat reached a record high, and oceans are getting more acidic and losing oxygen.
- With some exceptions, glaciers are melting and ice in the polar oceans is shrinking.
- The level of carbon dioxide in the air hit record highs
“Carbon dioxide is the major problem here,” Taalas said, adding that the gas stays in the air for hundreds of years.
Guterres called the U.N. report “another strong wake-up call.”
“It proves what we have been saying that climate change is moving faster than our efforts to address it,” he said. “It is important that we tackle climate change with much greater ambition. I am calling on [leaders] to come to the summit with concrete, realistic plans to put us on a sustainable path, once and for all.”
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