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Politics

Democrats decry climate change, and say fighting it could unite the country

Presidential debate
The candidates were asked whether they would be willing to relocate entire cities threatened with climate-related disasters.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

On the debate stage at Loyola Marymount University, Democrats described climate change as an existential threat — and said tackling it was a cause that could bring the country together.

The seven candidates all said they would be willing to relocate entire cities or individuals within cities who are threatened with climate-related disasters, in California due to fires or to floods in the Midwest.

The question hit home for debate viewers in this state, given the deadly wildfires of recent years, including the Camp fire that decimated the town of Paradise and killed 86 people in 2018.

Agreeing with the relocation idea, New York entrepreneur Andrew Yang said that “part of the plan is literally called move people to higher ground.”

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Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said her interest in helping people dealing with “unprecedented flooding” was personal. “It’s not flyover country to me. I live there,” she said.

The presidential candidates in the December Democratic debate all have robust climate action agendas. The differences lie in how far, how fast and how much to spend.

The relocation discussion expanded to one about the need for the entire country to take the lead in addressing the issue and whether the next president would support alternative energy plans to wean the nation off fossil fuels, ones that include nuclear power.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren repeated her opposition to nuclear power but said the nation has to aggressively explore other clean-energy sources.

Yang said that as president, he’d put all options on the table, including nuclear energy use, to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil as a way to clean the air.

Seven of the party’s White House hopefuls laid aside notions of peace on Earth and good will toward man — and woman — to joust in the year’s sixth and final presidential debate.

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California billionaire Tom Steyer said he supports increasing the use of nuclear energy but also investing in wind, solar and battery power. He said addressing climate change would represent “the greatest opportunity to rebuild this country.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said the narrowly focused question about relocation missed the mark. “The issue now is whether we save the planet for our children and grandchildren,” Sanders said.

Added Warren: “America understands that we have to make change and we’re running out of time.”


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