Democrats mention climate change frequently (but only briefly) during convention

Source: By Dino Grandoni, Washington Post • Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2020

But like with so much else, the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout have dominated the Democratic National Convention so far.

During last night’s prime-time broadcast, Democrats name-checked climate change, but rarely went into detail.

By contrast, it included an in-depth segment to Biden’s health-care proposals.

Former secretary of state John F. Kerry, who help broker the Paris climate accord in 2015, praised Barack Obama and Biden for forging “a 195-nation agreement to attack climate change.”

Noting that Biden entered office as vice president during the last economic recession, former president Bill Clinton said Biden has “given us smart detailed plans” that include “good jobs in green energy and conservation to combat climate change.”

And in describing what Democrats would do if they won full control of Congress, Senate Minority Charles Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) promised “strong, decisive action to combat climate change” — though he listed health care and tax reform first.

Climate change emerged as a top-tier issue during the Democratic primary.

But more recent polling shows climate change has receded in importance among voters since the start of the pandemic. 

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in May, 33 percent of registered voters nationwide said climate change was a “very important” issue — 10 percentage points down from February.

The issue, though, was highlighted often during the party’s official roll call that gave viewers a virtual tour of the country, when delegates from Alaska, Idaho and several other states noted how sea-level rise and other effects of global warming were already impacting their homes.

During the digital delegate allocation, electrical union worker in Ohio stood in front of a wind turbine to talk about clean energy. Representatives from California stood on a sun-drenched beach to talk about pollution.

Party leaders were able to make a more detailed case for Biden’s climate plan during a virtual climate forum.

In a pair of panels hosted by the DNC Council on the Environment and Climate Crisis earlier in the day, before the prime-time broadcast, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee argued that Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan is “sufficiently bold” and “electorally practical.”

Biden is proposing to set a legal mandate for electricity providers to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, a plan that is modeled in part on policies that Inslee has implemented in Washington state.

“That’s meat on the bone,” Inslee said.

The Washington governor added that although many of Trump’s efforts to boost fossil fuel use have been derailed by the courts, Biden is “smart enough” to succeed with his own policies.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison praised Biden for promising to remain in the international Paris climate accord and suggested the former vice president could convene other world leaders to reduce emissions.

“The tone setting, I think, is the most important thing,” Ellison said.

Mandela Barnes, the lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, where the convention was supposed to be held before the coronavirus outbreak, connected the pandemic and climate change as areas in which Trump has rejected science.

“His denial of climate change is just like his denial of covid-19,” Barnes said.