In a strong appeal to younger voters, Senator Michael Bennet opened the Climate Forum with classically progressive positions. He asserted the urgency of climate change as “the problem” of our time, demanding both urgent and enduring change. When asked about current impediments to these changes, he pointed towards “McConnellism” and the special interests behind government–pulling a classic line from leftward candidates like Warren.
His Coloradan identity was on full display throughout this discussion as he related climate change to the everyday problems faced by his state’s agricultural and tourism industries. Among his proposed solutions to the crisis was a “climate bank,” which would invest in green industries with a special aim towards supporting union and former coal workers. He veered away from options like carbon pricing due to concerns regarding its potential effects on poorer communities. He then added that he would both rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and attempt to expand them beyond their current scope. When asked, however, he failed to denounce fracking, even in his home state of Colorado, instead pointing to natural gas’s potential role as a bridge between coal and greener energy sources.
Towards the end of his discussion with Chris Hayes, he cycled back to doubling down on the need for governmental reform to pave the way for climate policy. Echoing a prior statement that our “democracy is broken,” he shared his hope that political will would support a singular focus on climate, but he declared his intention to use executive actions authorized by the Clean Air Act to push through policy in the absence of that will.
GREEN Analysis, Emily Mazur
Michael Bennet’s Climate Forum 2020 appearance made clear his commitment to enacting climate policy by referencing the personal toll of climate change on his home state of Colorado and by drawing sharp criticism for elected climate change-deniers like President Trump and Mitch McConnell.
Bennet’s stance struck at what many would consider the heart of the United States’ climate troubles: political inaction, especially at the senate level. Calling the United States democracy “broken,” Bennet places an emphasis on winning legislative races with candidates who take seriously the issue of climate change. Importantly, unlike other candidates’ plans, Bennet’s focus on legislative power wastes no time or funds on flashy technological fixes for climate change when research and science-backed solutions already exist.