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Vice Presidential Debate: Why Climate Is Trump’s Biggest Weakness

by Ryan Schleeter

October 7, 2020

"Contrary to right-wing lies parroted by Pence, the Green New Deal — which Harris co-sponsored in the Senate — remains popular with voters across the country. Policies to rein in the fossil fuel industry — including strict regulations on fracking — remain popular with voters, even in swing states. The American people are demanding climate champions in the White House, not anti-science neo-fascists.”

Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass, hosts a press conference calling for bold climate action in Congress and to blast Republicans for blocking real action on climate change. Members of the Sunrise Movement surround the podium.

© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace

October 7, 2020 — Tonight’s vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City, UT between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence featured the most substantive discussion of the climate crisis of any debate in the 2020 election cycle. It offered a stark contrast between a Biden-Harris ticket that wants to address economic inequality and the climate crisis hand-in-hand and a Trump-Pence ticket that continually refuses to accept basic science.

In response, Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner John Noël said: 

“This week has told us all we need to know about what another four years of Trump would look like. All the White House propaganda in the world cannot change the fact that Trump has allowed 210,000 Americans to die of COVID-19 on his watch and catapulted us towards irreversible climate catastrophe. As the head of the president’s Coronavirus Task Force, Mike Pence’s science denial in the face of these colliding crises is downright criminal.

“With Pence setting the bar so low, it was not hard for Kamala Harris to leap over it. She showed in this debate why climate voters are overwhelmingly supporting the Biden-Harris ticket, reaffirming her commitment to hold big polluters accountable and invest in job creation through renewable energy. Contrary to right-wing lies parroted by Pence, the Green New Deal — which Harris co-sponsored in the Senate — remains popular with voters across the country. Policies to rein in the fossil fuel industry — including strict regulations on fracking — remain popular with voters, even in swing states. The American people are demanding climate champions in the White House, not anti-science neo-fascists.”

Pence repeatedly attacked Harris’ position on fossil fuels, when the scientific reality is that if our next president does not implement policies to phase out oil, gas, and coal production with safeguards for and job guarantees for workers, we stand little chance of preventing the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

Kamala Harris concluded her campaign for the Democratic nomination with a B+ (77/100) on the Greenpeace climate 2020 scorecard, one place ahead of Biden at the time. The strength of Harris’ approach to the climate crisis lies in her willingness to confront fossil fuel executives for their role in polluting Black and Brown communities and misleading the public about the science of climate change. Trump and Pence received an F (0/100) on the Greenpeace climate 2020 scorecard.

ENDS

Note: To maintain independence, Greenpeace USA does not endorse or oppose any political party, candidate, or elected official. We work to hold all candidates for office to the standard that science says is necessary to avert climate crisis, which means supporting a Green New Deal and ending fossil fuels.

Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Senior Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (415) 342-2386, [email protected]

Ryan Schleeter

By Ryan Schleeter

Ryan Schleeter is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Grist, GreenBiz, EcoWatch, and more. Find him on Twitter @ryschlee.

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