Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Democratic Candidates Field Questions on Climate and Energy in Recent 'People-Powered' Debates

The 2008 Democratic presidential candidates fielded a range of questions on how they would tackle global warming and increase America's energy independence in two recent, innovative, 'people-powered' debates. Both events - MoveOn.org's 'Virtual Town Hall' on Climate Change and the CNN-YouTube Debates - posed questions to the candidates that were submitted by individuals via video and the internet.

Earlier this month, the full range of candidates fielded three questions each on how they would tackle the climate crisis in MoveOn'org's Virtual Town Hall on Climate. The event was organized in conjunction with the LiveEarth global concert series, held on July 7th. You can watch the candidates' responses to each question online here.

Last night, CNN and YouTube organized a similar event that used internet-submitted videos to pose questions from average Americans to the Democratic candidates. This format was both innovative, and in my opinion, effective. The questions were harder hitting, more pointed and even in many cases entertaining than the previous television debates. The candidates fielded three questions on energy and climate change, although not all candidates responded to the questions. You can see the three energy and climate focused questions from the debate below. The debate was broadcast live on CNN on July 23rd and you can head to the CNN-YouTube Debates website for videos of the full debate. CNN and YouTube plan another 'people-powered' debate with the Republican presidential candidates soon.


Question: "How will you save the snowmen from global warming?" [note: this one is a humorous question on a serious topic!]


Candidates who respond: Kucinich

Question: "How will your policies reduce energy consumption in the United States?"


Candidates who respond: Gravel, Dodd

Question: "What is your stance on nuclear power?"


Candidates who respond: Edwards, Obama, Clinton

1 comment:

WattHead said...

MotherJones magazine has a pretty good recap of the MoveOn Virtual Town Hall that's pretty dead on, in my opinion.

The candidates are all starting to sound similar in their policy positions - all support an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 at this point (except Gravell, who I don't really count as a candidate anyway!), all support increased renewable energy, efficiency and vehicle fuel economy.

That's all great news, and is testament to the efforts of the grassroots to pressure candidates to take stronger positions, and to those candidates who took a stand early on, driving forward the rest of the pack in a race to claim the 'green mantle.' John Edwards in particular - who was the first major candidate to publicly endorse an 80% cut in emissions by 2050 and whose consistent and forceful stance on this issue has driven the other major candidates (Obama and Clinton) to catch up - deserves a healthy dose of credit.

When it comes to deciding who's the best on climate change in the 2008 democratic primary, it's starting to come down to two things:

a) focusing on the remaining nuances in their positions that help reveal how serious a candidate really is about tackling climate change: in my opinion, these include support for coal-to-liquids (they shouldn't!), support for auctions of carbon allowances under a cap-and-trade (they should!) and how aggressive their energy efficiency and renewable energy goals are (they should be aggressive!); and

b) focusing not just on what they are saying, but how they are saying it (and when): tackling climate change will require real leadership. It's not just enough to support a strong policy position, you've got to be able to sell it, pass it and implement it. Are the candidates exhibiting leadership on this issue? Are they strong, articulate advocates? Are they leading the pack, or following them in taking up policy positions? All of these things should help you get a sense for whether or not a candidate will actually have what it takes to rise to the challenge and solve the climate crisis.

So look beyond the LCV scorecard, look beyond the simple position summaries, and take a closer look at the nuances, their command of the rhetoric, the substance and the fire that we'll need from our next President.