The Clarke County Democratic Committee Endorses A DNC-Sponsored Climate Debate

Whereas, There is a global climate crisis that requires a strong presidential response. Data from the most recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific bodies indicates that humanity now has less than 12 years to implement policies to mitigate and reverse the effects of global warming.  

Virginia and the United States are already experiencing the effects of climate change and its consequences in the form of deadlier storms, rising sea levels, droughts, wildfires, and floods costing billions of dollars in damages and adverse impacts to human health, the environment and our economy. These effects will worsen unless swift and bold federal action is taken.

The one facet of climate change that is and will continue to affect the daily lives of Virginians and U.S. residents more than any other is killer heat.  A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, titled “Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days,” found that the Southeast region, which includes Virginia, would be hit the hardest by extreme heat. Historically, Virginia experiences an average of five days per year with a heat index above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That number would increase by almost 600%, to 33 days per year by midcentury, and 60 days per year by century’s end – exposing roughly 3.2 million Virginians to a week or more of days topping out at or above a heat index of 127 degrees Fahrenheit.

There is overwhelming bipartisan support for policies to tackle climate change in the Commonwealth. A 2018 poll from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that a majority of registered voters in Virginia (71%) believe global warming is happening, with 62% saying they were worried about climate change. Eighty-six percent of registered Virginia voters support funding more research into renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, 78% support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and 71% support setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants.

In addition, a June an online survey polled 1,030 registered voters to ask if they would “support or oppose setting aside” one of the Democratic candidate debates “to focus specifically on the issue of climate change.” Sixty-four percent of Democrats and independents that lean blue supported the idea, “with 42% strongly in support and 22% somewhat in favor. ( ) However, only 6% (15 minutes) of the time spent on policy topics at the first two Democratic candidate debates was on the climate crisis, and not every candidate even got to speak on the issue.  

Focusing on the climate crisis will distinguish Democrats as leaders on the issue and build energetic support among younger voters. All Virginia voters who care about climate, clean energy and the environment want to know what proposals and positions the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates may have, and how they compare and contrast, in order to make informed decisions on who to support in the upcoming Virginia Democratic Presidential Primary. The state chairs of the Democratic parties in Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming have joined in calling for a Democratic National Committee sponsored Climate Debate.

Therefore, be it resolved that the Clarke County Democratic Committee:

  1. Endorses a Democratic National Committee–sponsored Climate Debate prior to the primaries;
  2. Urges Virginia Democratic Party Chair Susan Swecker to join other state Democratic party chairs in endorsing a Climate Debate;
  3. Urges the Virginia delegation to the Democratic National Committee’s August 22–24 semi-annual meeting to work to ensure that there is a full DNC vote on a Climate Debate; and
  4. Requests that Virginia delegates to the August DNC meeting vote in favor of having a Climate Debate should it be presented for a vote of the whole.