“Mayor Pete Buttigieg CNN Climate Town Hall – Video Highlights” a press release provided to Zennie62Media.
Tonight, many candidates on stage spoke to the magnitude of the climate crisis, but only Mayor Pete Buttigieg offered a solution that unites the country behind action to meet the urgency of the moment we are facing. For decades Washington failed to meet the challenges of climate disruption, but Pete understands combatting this crisis requires bold action that unites, rather than divides, American communities behind a national project.
Here are some of Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s best moments from tonight’s town hall as he took the fight to Republicans, Trump, and Washington inaction by enlisting rural Americans, assembly line workers, miners, people of faith, and the military to help lead the way to combat climate change:
ON REPUBLICAN INACTION
And it’s not just him. It’s all of the enablers in the congressional GOP, right? I mean this matters. And they need to know that they will be remembered for generations. You could argue that of all the horrible things that this president has done, the one that will most be remembered 50 or 100 years from now will have to do with the failure to act on climate. At least that’s what it’ll be like if this goes down in history as the time that we failed to get something done.
I mean Congress right now is like– it’s like a room full of doctors arguing about what to do over a cancer patient and half of them are arguing over whether medication or surgery is the best approach, and the other half we’re saying cancer doesn’t exist. Think of what a disservice this is.
ON TELLING THE PRESIDENT TO STEP ASIDE
This is a life or death issue, and the president is busy drawing with a Sharpie on a hurricane map. He’s completely in a different reality than the rest of us. And the problem is we don’t have the luxury of debating whether this is an issue. So I can’t think of anything I could ask him other than would you please step aside and allow us to do something about this issue cause you’re clearly not ready to lead?
ON TALKING TO RURAL COMMUNITIES ABOUT CLIMATE
But I think the real issue we’ve got to have, especially in very conservative places like where I live in Indiana, the real conversation we’ve gotta have is about what’s at stake here beyond the traditional battle lines that have been drawn. This ought to be a bipartisan issue. So let’s talk about some other dimensions of what’s at stake. Let’s talk about national security at a time when our military leaders say that this is one of the greatest threats to stability. […]
You know, if you believe that God is watching as poison is being belched into the air of creation and people are being harmed by it, countries are at risk of vanishing in low lying areas, what do you suppose God thinks of that? I bet he thinks it’s messed up…And eventually it gets to the point where this is less and less about the planet as an abstract thing and more and more about specific people suffering specific harm because of what we’re doing right now.
ON THE THREAT TO FARMERS
This is so important because the entire way of life is being threatened and it’s hard enough without climate change, right? And it’s getting harder under this administration, between the trade wars and the things that are happening with consolidation that are making it difficult to get ahead. Uncertainty is one of the biggest enemies that a farmer has, and we’re adding an awful lot of it with what’s happening with climate change. It’s one of the reasons why farmers have the most to lose — but I also believe, and clearly you’re pioneering this, that rural Americans can be such a huge part of the solution. […]
Imagine what it would mean if a net zero emissions cattle farm were as big a symbol of American achievement in fighting the climate crisis as an electrical vehicle — we’d be so proud of it, and it might also be helpful at coffee after church with folks you know in your rural communities who maybe are hesitating to embrace Democratic visions of climate, because it sounds like we’re telling them they’re part of the problem.
ON CLIMATE JUSTICE
This is such an important example of the moral stakes of dealing with climate. This is not only a question of generational justice, it is a question of social, racial, and gender justice. […]
We’ve seen it in South Bend; some of those most impacted by some of the historic flooding that we’ve seen where those who are economically least able to deal with it. We’re seeing far more Black kids needing to be treated for asthma than white kids. That’s not a coincidence. That’s a consequence of things like economic disempowerment and because a lot of folks were redlined intentionally into neighborhoods that are closer to sources of pollution. […]
So I’m proposing that we fund communities developing community solutions toward health equity, including dealing with issues that are exacerbated by climate or caused by environmental problems without saying that we’re going to prescribe it all from Washington, but putting real dollars from Washington behind those community plans to deliver health equity and justice with environmental issues being one of the main drivers of both the problem and potentially the solution.
ON A RESPONSIBILITY TO THE NEXT GENERATION
And I think, you know, when we’re on the campaign trail now and more and more the questions I get from kids are about climate. They’re almost always either about gun violence or about climate. These are personal questions. They’re asking about whether they’re going to be able to thrive. Again, it’s why I think this isn’t just saving the planet. This is saving the future for specific people who are alive right now.
I also frankly think of it a little more selfishly because when we’re talking about whether we hit this target of 2050 decarbonizing our economy, you know, lord willing, I plan to be here. I would be in my sixties by the time we know whether we have succeeded and can look back at 2020 and be proud of what we did to begin getting on the right track or realize that we’re the ones who blew it. These are the years– you know, we talk about 2030 is a deadline, but in many ways 2020 is the deadline because if we’re not underway by the time the new president takes office, we really have lost our last shot.
ON BUILDING THE POLITICAL WILL TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE
So, we envision that taking longer, but I will say that we’ve got to do it as quickly as humanly possible, because we see the consequences of this; they are upon us…But look, I don’t think anybody is going to object to doing it quicker; the real issue is, again, not who set the right targets — I’m not going to quibble over a five year difference between this plan or that plan when we’ve been wrangling over the same plans for my entire adult lifetime.
The question is, how are we going to break the logjam and actually make something happen? And that is going to require a different level of political will, it’s going to require democratic reforms so that dollars can’t outvote people. And by the way, if the only way that we can establish as a matter of American constitutional law that a corporation is different than a person, and that spending money to influence an election is different than speech — if the only way we can clear that up is with a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United, then that’s what we’re going to have to do. Because otherwise, we see the consequences.
ON UNITING THE COUNTRY
What a great question, and there’s a lot of pieces in there. Part of it is the threat side, the fact that global threats are evolving as a consequence of climate. We already mentioned Syria, but also, there is a lot of reason to believe that migration and immigration issues are going to get more difficult at our own borders as a consequence of climate related disruption. So we know it’s changing the threats, we know that bases right now are vulnerable. The exciting thing is that the military can also be a huge part of the solution. You know, one of the things that was certainly true when I was in the military, is that you just figure out a way to get done what you’ve been ordered to do. The military has got an amazing capacity to rally to achieve what is being asked of them. And frankly, there have been times, even though we think of the military as a conservative institution, there are times when the military has actually been out front relative to a lot of parts of America. And by following instructions to get something done, helped bring other parts of America along. […]
I think that the purchasing power of the US military, and just the resolve of our service members to get stuff done when it is a national priority, could help lead the way for the rest of society and be one more example of how we create the sense of a national mobilization — a national project that summons everything that all of us bring to the table — in order to deal with something that we know we will regret if we don’t act fast.