The Political Rundown

Climate change: dividing and uniting


Story by Tiana Kuchta, Op/Ed Editor

This week in the debates leading up to the primaries, one of my favorite topics took the spotlight. That’s right folks, we’ve got a climate change debate. Well, sort of.

Since the Democratic National Committee refused to hold such a debate — according to The New York Times — CNN hosted the Climate Town Hall event, which allowed 10 of the Democrats running for president to spend seven hours discussing their plans to tackle climate change. 

Climate change is one of the most important things affecting the world around us; therefore, I think it’s one of the biggest things a potential president has to be ready to face.

All of the candidates agreed: climate change is a problem that needs to be addressed, but there was some disagreement on how it should be addressed, The New York Times said.

One thing everyone agreed on is the United States will rejoin the Paris climate accord, said the Times article. This means there will need to be a considerable effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. There are many conflicting ways to reach such an ambitious goal. 

One idea that is supported by nine of the 10 candidates who participated in Climate Town Hall is carbon pricing. This new tax is said to be necessary to bring emissions down, according to The New York Times; and though Bernie Sanders was the only one opposed to this tax, “he is calling for an expansive, $16 trillion program to combat climate change.”

Another point of disagreement was on the use of nuclear power. While some of the younger candidates like Andrew Yang and Cory Booker argue that reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 would be highly unlikely without nuclear power, many other candidates are not so sure, The New York Times said.

Senator Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar discussed the issues regarding nuclear waste and how it should be disposed of — according to The New York Times — making it clear they weren’t thrilled about the potential of having more nuclear power plants in the states, but acknowledged they could be beneficial with the right technology. 

Since this was a Democratic debate, and it’s basically a calling card of the party to be an environmental advocate, I decided to look into what the new Republican candidates had to say about climate change. 

Joe Walsh said “he recognizes climate change is impacted by human activities,” according to PBS

“The Republican Party has to acknowledge it’s a problem,” Walsh said.

 Though it’s unclear whether or not he would enter the United States back into the Paris Agreement, I think it’s a good sign he at least acknowledges the fact that climate change is caused by humans. 

William Weld has gone into more detail on his concern for the environment, as E&E News said: “Weld has endorsed keeping the United States in the Paris Agreement.” 

Weld is also “an outspoken critic of Trump’s environmental policies, and favors increasing renewable energy and nuclear power,” according to E&E News.

Being a self-proclaimed champion of climate change, I was extremely upset when President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement. Though it was exciting to see cities and states step up with smaller-scale climate change initiatives, I was — and still am — worried about the future of this planet.

So, having a panel of candidates who are open to the fact that climate change exists, and is due to human behavior, makes me believe there is still some hope for the future of this nation and this planet. Now we just need to sort out whose beliefs are the most similar to our own and get out and vote for those people when it’s time for the primaries. 

Kuchta can be reached at [email protected]