Presidential hopefuls square off on climate change ahead of third debate

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Climate change is one of the top issues in the 2020 presidential election.

Ahead of the third democratic debate later this week, 10 presidential hopefuls laid out their plans to tackle the problem in a 7-hour forum, elevating the issue higher than ever before in a presidential election.

“We have to start choosing science over fantasy here,” former Vice President and Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden said.

Biden believes it is up to the United States to lead the fight against climate change.

“We should be in a position where we generate support around the rest of the world and those who don’t do their part, don’t participate, then, in fact, they face consequences,” he said.

In between explaining her many plans, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) warned Democrats about getting distracted by conversations like regulating light bulbs, a reference to the Trump administration’s rollback of energy efficiency rules last week.

“This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry hopes we’re talking about,” Warren said. “They want to be able to stir up a lot of controversy around your lightbulbs, straws, and cheeseburgers when 70% of the pollution of the carbon we’re throwing in the air comes from three industries.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) was a bit more concise when asked if he would reinstate those energy efficiency regulations.

“Duh!” he exclaimed.

Sanders also defended the price tag of his $16 trillion climate crisis plan, arguing it’s possible to also focus on other policies he supports like Medicare-for-all and free college.

“I have the radical idea that a sane Congress can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time,” he said. “We are fighting for the survival of the planet Earth, our only planet. How is this not a major priority? It must be a major priority.”

Although Jay Inslee dropped out of the presidential race, the Washington state governor’s ideas were still echoed by his former rivals.

“I also want to give a shout out to Gov. Jay Inslee who did a fantastic job bringing this issue to the forefront of this campaign,” former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro said.

“Gov. Inslee, I’m stealing your line. He said, ‘So Donald Trump said wind turbines cause cancer’ and Jay said, ‘No, they don’t cause cancer, they cause jobs,’” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) added.

She said she is willing to take a stand against Senate Republicans refusing to pass the Green New Deal.

“If they fail to act, as President of the United States, I am prepared to get rid of the filibuster to pass a Green New Deal,” she said.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg argued that battling the climate crisis will not be easy.

“This is the hardest thing we will have done certainly in my lifetime as a country, on par with winning World War II, perhaps more challenging than that,” he said.

The third democratic debate will be Thursday in Houston, Texas, starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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