Young folks—who have grown up experiencing the increasingly worsening effects of climate change—know best that it’s an issue we can’t afford to put off. They know better, it seems, than even political parties: The Democratic National Committee voted down a proposal to hold a single issue debate focused on Climate Change.
Which is why Georgetown’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, in partnership with MSNBC, Our Daily Planet, and New York magazine, is hosting a Climate Forum at Georgetown University this week. On Thursday and Friday, 12 presidential candidates will get an hour each to share their plan to address climate change and answer questions posed by students. (All candidates were invited, but three of the top five Democratic contenders—Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Joe Biden—won’t be participating.)
“Georgetown’s Climate Forum 2020 is the only presidential candidate forum on climate change consisting of Q&A from an entirely student audience,” Kelly Ogburn, Georgetown Institute’s director of communications, wrote via email.
Questions will be posed by young people in the room, as well as students across the country who are organizing watch parties on their campuses and can submit questions in real time.
The forum is in part the result of pressure from young people who have been demanding U.S. politicians bring climate change to the forefront of the national conversation and take action towards mitigation. It falls a couple days before the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit on September 23rd.
On Friday, as candidates at Georgetown are answering tough questions, many students around the world will be participating in a strike organized by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, which is encouraging millions of people in 120-plus countries around the world to walk out of school and work to demand that our leaders join our fight for a Green New Deal now. Many of those people will be watching the forum via livestream.
Thursday’s lineup includes Democratic candidates Michael Bennet, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, Bernie Sanders, John Delaney, Tim Ryan and Julian Castro. On Friday, we’ll hear from Cory Booker, Steve Bullock, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and just one Republican candidate, Bill Weld.
MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes and Ali Velshi—a Citizen board member—will moderate, and the event will be streamed live on NBC News Now and Telemundo. There will also be special coverage of the forum on MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi (Monday–Friday 3pm ET), All In with Chris Hayes (Monday–Friday 8pm ET) and elsewhere on MSNBC’s website.
The forum is open to Georgetown students, faculty and staff only, and is being organized by Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service.
“The mission of GU Politics is to make politics more accessible to young people, in part by engaging the very candidates and players who are a part of the political process,” Ogburn says. “Hosting the Climate Forum will help us deliver on this promise, bringing candidates to campus to discuss directly with a nationwide student audience one of the most important issues to young voters.”Photo courtesy Kelly Bell Photography / Flickr