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2020 Climate Debate Survey Results

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Why hold a climate debate at all? After all, Democrats generally agree on the need for climate action, right? Climate Hawks Vote surveyed members to find out where climate advocates agree, and where they disagree, on climate policy.

“We wanted to demonstrate to Tom Perez, debate moderators, and the DNC the kinds of questions that could be asked in a climate debate, and the range of responses within the climate community. And we found the kind of sharp differences that could best be illustrated in a debate,” said RL Miller, political director of Climate Hawks Vote.

Climate Hawks Vote surveyed its members June 14-16 asking them the kinds of questions that could be asked in a presidential candidates’ debate. Over 2600 climate hawks responded to ten substantive questions. Among highlights:

  • Nuclear power remains a hot button issue: 60 percent favor phasing it out, 21 percent want to keep existing power plants only, and 18 percent want to build advanced reactors.
  • Far more climate hawks want to see a carbon tax with revenue spent on infrastructure (70 percent) than want to see a carbon “fee and dividend” with revenue returned to the American people (16 percent), the approach favored by the Citizens Climate Lobby group and embodied in HR 763.
  • Overwhelming numbers (92 percent) want to see Exxon investigated for what it knew, but concealed, about global warming in the 1970s. However, 30 percent of climate hawks would consider a tradeoff — a carbon tax in exchange for a waiver of Exxon’s liability.
  • Agriculture showed perhaps the widest range of options: 39 percent favored reforms to the farm subsidy program, 21 percent favored a tax on meat, and 38 percent favored educating farmers.
  • Another potentially interesting debate topic: should the United States abolish ICE cars (gasoline powered cars) by 2040, or 2030? or rely on toughening fuel economy standards? or just trust the market? 55 percent of climate hawks prefer abolishing ICE cars by 2030.
  • The Green New Deal-plus-equity (e.g., universal healthcare, job guarantee) is preferred by a 3 to 1 ratio over a Green New Deal without equity.
  • Sadly for John Hickenlooper’s campaign, only four respondents volunteer to drink fracking fluid on national television. 86 percent of respondents want to ban fracking, and 13 percent prefer regulation.

“The American people are hungry for climate solutions, and the range of responses shows the lack of consensus on solutions,” adds Miller. “Climate has risen to the top of voters’ concerns in recent polls, but most average folk don’t know the real differences among the carbon pricing proposals, the Green New Deal, and more. And the best way to explain the differences is with a debate.”

Climate Hawks Vote was among the groups that delivered over 200,000 signatures on a petition to the DNC on Wednesday, June 12.





Paid for in part by Climate Hawks Vote Political Action. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

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