The Democratic National Committee has rejected a proposal to host a single-issue debate on the climate crisis.
At a party conference Thursday in San Francisco, top DNC officials voted 17-8 against a resolution that had become a cause célèbre for activists and for more than a dozen presidential contenders who felt the traditional debate format failed to adequately address the looming threat of catastrophe.
The DNC voted in favor of another resolution to sanction a less-formal forum on the issue.
It was a predictable outcome. Top brass at the DNC opposed the climate debate from the get-go, fearing it could sow discord in the base and hamper the eventual nominee in the general election. CNN and MSNBC announced plans last month to host forums on climate change in September. DNC Chair Tom Perez affirmed the forums in a resolution introduced earlier this month, which some activists saw as setting the stage for voting down the climate debate.
Symone Sanders, a senior adviser of presidential candidate Joe Biden, was among those who urged the DNC committee on Thursday to vote down a climate debate, saying it would be “dangerous territory in the middle of a Democratic primary process.”
That contrasts with what Biden had earlier said during a campaign stop in Iowa this summer. The former vice president had endorsed having a climate debate, telling Greenpeace, “I’m all in.”
The influential youth-led climate group Sunrise Movement, a driving force behind the climate debate push, filled the room where the vote took place with as many as 100 activists on Thursday.
“We deserve a chance at a livable future,” one Sunrise activist shouted after the vote. “We deserve a climate debate.”
The nonprofit vowed to hold protests over the next day intended to shame the DNC for its vote.
Adding to the string was Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee’s departure from the 2020 race. The Washington governor, who pegged his entire candidacy to a sweeping climate plan, dropped out late Wednesday night as his low polling numbers disqualified from the next full debate in September.