CNN's climate crisis town hall
Beto O’Rourke said he opposes a carbon tax and instead backs a carbon cap-and-trade program in which a shrinking number of “allowances” would be sold to polluters each year.
“It’s the best way to send the pricing signal to ensure that there is a legally enforceable limit,” the former Texas congressman said at CNN’s climate town hall Wednesday.
“We should certainly price carbon. I think the best possible path to do that is through a cap and trade system. There would be allowances granted or sold to polluters,” he said, adding that “there would be a set number of allowances that would decrease every single year.”
Democrats in the House of Representatives passed a cap-and-trade bill in 2010 that would have capped carbon emissions for businesses and forced emitters to buy credits for emissions from other businesses -- that’s the trade part -- but it never went anywhere in the Senate.
Many people think the most effective way to drastically cut carbon emissions would be to set a price on them -- essentially, to tax them, which O’Rourke said he opposes.
The International Monetary Fund recently suggested fossil fuel producers were getting more than $600 billion per year in subsides from the US government because they are not paying for the carbon they emit into the air. That’s part of a larger $5.2 trillion that the IMF paper suggested oil and gas companies were getting from governments worldwide.
Beto O'Rourke's climate crisis town hall just started, and he's taking questions from voters.
He's the ninth Democratic candidiate to take the stage in New York City tonight.
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg defended his decision to fly on private planes during his 2020 campaign despite the increased impact private air travel has on the environment
Buttigieg and his traveling aides regularly fly private, and the South Bend, Indiana, mayor spent more money on private air travel than any other candidate in the second quarter of 2019.
Asked on Wednesday about that travel, Buttigieg said he is “interested in de-carbonizing the fuel that goes into air travel” but that he flies private because “this is a very big country and I’m running to be president of the whole country.”
“I also don’t believe that we’re going to abolish air travel. This is a big country, and while I absolutely think that we can do more to provide alternatives like trains, I don’t think that we’re going to solve the question of how to get around the world without air travel,��� Buttigieg said. “This is the sort of the thing that I think we need to look at in a common sense kind of way.”
Buttigieg also slammed the fact that United State has an “inferior train system.”
“Think what it would mean for areas like the industrial Midwest if places from Indianapolis to Chicago to South Bend and Detroit and so on were just a few hours away from each other by train,” He said. “I’m not even asking for Japanese level trains. Just give me like Italian level trains.”
Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of a liberal city in the middle of a conservative state. On Wednesday, he said that to connect with Republicans in places like Indiana on climate issues, Democrats would be wise to use the frame of faith.
“Let's talk in language that is understood across the heartland, about faith,” the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said. “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 in low lying areas. What do you suppose God thinks of that?
Buttigieg’s guess: That “it's messed up.”
“You don't have to be religious to see the moral dimensions of this because, frankly, every religious and nonreligious moral tradition tells us that we have some responsibility to stewardship, some responsibility for taking care of what's around us not to mention taking care of our neighbor,” he said.
By taking that route, Buttigieg argued, the stakes both become more clear and increasingly real -- to everyone.
“Eventually, it gets to the point where this is less and less about the planet as an abstract thing,” he said, “and more and more about specific people suffering specific harm because of what we're doing right now.”
Pete Buttigieg said the most-remembered element of Donald Trump’s presidency could be his failure to address the climate crisis.
“You could argue of all the horrible things 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 will be like if this goes down in history as the time we failed to get something done,” the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said at CNN’s climate town hall.
“I mean, Congress is like a room full of doctors arguing about what to do over a cancer patient,” he said. “And half of them are arguing over whether medication or surgery is the best approach, and the other half is saying cancer doesn't exist. Think of what a disservice -- this a life or death issue. The president is busy drawing with a Sharpie on a hurricane map. He's in a different reality than the rest of us. The problem is we don't have the luxury of debating whether this is an issue.”
Buttigieg was asked what question he would ask Trump in a debate about climate change, but said he doesn’t believe Trump can be reached on the issue.
“By asking him a question. I don’t think you can't get to him at all,” he said. “And it's not just him. It's all of the enablers in the congressional GOP.”
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday that successfully combating climate change might be “more challenging than” winning World War II.
The comment came early in Buttigieg’s town hall, when the South Bend, Indiana, mayor was seeking to explain how the country needed to be unified around the climate crisis in order to successfully combat it.
“This is the hardest thing we will have done in my lifetime as a country,” he said, “on par with winning World War II.”
Buttigieg then paused, and said, “Maybe more challenging than that.”
He added: “Does anybody really think we’re going to meet that goal if between now and 2050, we are still at each other’s throats? It won’t happen.”
Buttigieg, who often talks about the need to unite around difficult issues, said part of this unification may mean “bringing people to the table who haven’t felt they have been part of the process.”
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is next up at CNN's climate crisis town hall.
He's one of 10 Democratic candidates to take voter's questions tonight.
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren rejected the idea that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her fellow 2020 contender, was more committed to the climate change fight because he is willing to spend trillions more on the issue.
“No,” Warren said bluntly.
“I’ve got plans. I have a $2 trillion plan, I have a $1 trillion plan picking up how we are going to cut carbon emissions by 70% by 2035. But we have to use all the tools in the tool box. This is not a moment where we just say, you know what, we just need to put some money on it, and we’ll fix it.”
Warren and Sanders are the two top progressives in the race and, while they are close friends, it is expected that they will have to clash at some point in the coming months.
Warren admitted that combatting climate change “takes money,” but she added that it also takes more than that.
“We need to be willing to use regulatory tools. That’s important,” she said. “We have to use our position internationally.”
Warren said, for that reason, her trade and foreign policy includes climate elements.
CNN's Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren about what she would say to oil refinery workers, like the ones in Port Arthur, Texas, whose jobs depend on the oil industry.
"Even though they understand the problems, they would tell you, 'Please don't shut them down, because I will die of starvation before I die of pollution.' They're worried about jobs. What do you tell the pipe fitters and cafeteria workers in Port Arthur what will happen to them if these places go dark?" Weir asked.
Warren said she had two things she'd like to tell those workers.
"The first one is, that's not the only job in Port Arthur over the next 20 years," she said, adding that there will be union infrastructure in the city, which was hard hit by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Then she continued with her second point:
"Part two is who's making the real money off Port Arthur and those workers? Who's making that money? It's the investors, it's the Saudis who own this company. How is it in a democracy that we could have a handful of corporations that year after year keep dragging in bigger and bigger profits, while the oceans continue to rise, while your home disappears, while your children have asthma, while people die. That's not right."