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Young Climate Debate Supporters Turning Up Heat on Democratic Party

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was the first presidential candidate to call for a climate-focused debate. (International Institute for Sustainable Development/Flickr)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was the first presidential candidate to call for a climate-focused debate. (International Institute for Sustainable Development/Flickr)
July 22, 2019

SEATTLE – Young people are leading the growing calls for the Democratic National Committee to allow a presidential primary debate on climate change.

DNC officials so far have resisted the stand alone debate, saying they would have to hold other single issue contests as well.

But supporters reject this claim, saying climate change actually encompasses many other issues.

Victoria Hsieh is the hub coordinator in Seattle for the Sunrise Movement, a nationwide youth-led group fighting for action on climate change.

"The climate crisis itself is already affecting and it touches on racial justice, economic justice, in some ways, it could be a national security issue,” she states. “It's also related to immigration, where there will be influx of climate refugees if we can't solve this crisis."

The second round of Democratic Party primary debates is taking place July 30 and 31 in Detroit. The Sunrise Movement plans to send about 1,000 members to the city to rally for climate action.

On Aug. 22, the DNC will consider a resolution on a climate debate at its national meeting in San Francisco.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was the earliest proponent of a climate debate and has rallied 14 of the Democratic Party challengers to support it.

Washington State Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski drafted the resolution, which also gained signatures from eight other state chairs. She says the complicated issue isn't easy to address in short soundbites.

"It has a fundamental impact on America today and for America's future and, frankly, for the future of all of us, and the current debate stage and schedule, the way that it's set up, really doesn't lend itself to a robust conversation," she stresses.

Podlodowski acknowledges young people's passion for reacting to climate change, too. She says for her two sons, who are in their early 20s, this is the most important issue of the election.

"They're really proud of me as their mom for doing this work,” she states. “For once, I'm the cool mom on the block because I'm actually doing something that they and all of their friends are excited about hearing from their leaders."

Disclosure: Kaiser Health Plan of Washington Project contributes to our fund for reporting on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA