Arguing that DNC chair Tom Perez’s refusal to allow a presidential debate focused solely on the climate crisis runs counter to the Democratic Party’s own 2016 policy platform, a coalition of progressive advocacy groups and leading environmentalists on Tuesday published an open letter urging Perez to reverse his decision and devote at least one night to the planetary emergency.

“The last Democratic platform made clear that we desperately needed emergency action on climate—and since it was adopted we’ve had the hottest year in human history,” Bill McKibben, founder of and signatory of the open letter, said in a statement. “So it doesn’t seem too much to ask that the candidates, who have months and months of campaigning, devote a single evening to coming to grips with this crisis.”

“To avoid climate crisis in the next decade, we need to know where those vying to be our next president stand today.”
Click Here: COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 2019—Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA

Led by Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), the open letter highlights the section of the 2016 Democratic Party platform that declares: “Climate change poses an urgent and severe threat to our national security, and Democrats believe it would be a grave mistake for the United States to wait for another nation to take the lead in combating the global climate emergency.”

“We are committed to a national mobilization,” the platform reads, “and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II.”

In their open letter—which can be read in full below—the advocacy groups said Perez’s opposition to a climate debate “despite the Democratic Party being formally governed by its commitment to leading a ‘national mobilization’ to ‘address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II’ defies common sense.”

Alan Minsky, executive director of PDA, said the policy document makes clear that the “Democratic Party doesn’t debate we’re in a climate emergency.”

“So why is it debating whether to have a climate emergency debate?” Minsky asked.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, Perez defied the demands of grassroots climate activists and major 2020 Democratic presidential candidates by announcing that the DNC will not allow a climate-focused debate, despite the fact that previous presidential debates have almost completely ignored the crisis.

“You have my word that I will do everything I can to make sure our candidates are able to debate all of the critical issues during this primary,” Perez said at the time.

Confronted by activists following his announcement, Perez defended his decision on the grounds that debate rules are already in place and insisted that the dozen scheduled presidential debates will contain “more robust” discussions of climate than ever.

But climate leaders said Perez’s assurances are not enough to guarantee that the climate emergency gets the substantive attention it deserves.

“Climate change got almost no attention during the 2016 debate cycle,” Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, said in a statement. “This time, we’re not settling for soundbites. To avoid climate crisis in the next decade, we need to know where those vying to be our next president stand today.”

“A climate debate,” said Leonard, “is our chance to find out who has what it takes to deliver the visionary promise of the Green New Deal and confront the fossil fuel executives standing in the way of progress.”

Read the open letter: