CNN's climate crisis town hall

By Meg Wagner, Dan Merica, Gregory Krieg and Eric Bradner, CNN

Updated 0725 GMT (1525 HKT) September 5, 2019
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9:53 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Warren: Fossil fuel companies want people focused on light bulbs, straws and cheeseburgers

From CNN's Dan Merica

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday that conversations around regulating light bulbs, banning plastic straws and cutting down on red meat are exactly what the fossil fuel industry wants people focused on as a way to distract from their impact on climate change.

“This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry hopes we’re all talking about,” Warren said. “That’s what they want us to talk about.”

Warren said that fossil fuels want people to think “this is your problem” and to “stir up a lot of controversy around your lightbulbs, around your straws and around your cheeseburgers.”

The reality, Warren argues, is that “70% of the pollution of the carbon that we’re throwing into the air comes from three industries and we can set our targets and say by 2028, 2030, and 2035, no more.”

Warren has advocated, by 2028, mandating carbon free building; by 2030, mandating carbon free cars and light-duty truck production; and, by 2035, mandating carbon free electricity generation.

9:48 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Warren on Trump: "Where he is right now is a nightmare"

Sen. Elizabeth Warren — asked about if the reality of the Green New Deal — said Trump's climate plans are a "nightmare."

CNN's Chris Cuomo asked Warren to envision a possible 2020 debate with her up against President Trump.

"You're on the debate stage. You're across from the President, and he says the Green New Deal is a dream because we're 60% right now on fossil fuels," Cuomo said.

Warren quipped: "I'm just saying, where he is right now is a nightmare."

Warren went on to say that we need to "dream big" now, since the US only accounts for about 20% of the climate crisis.

"We're only 20% of the problem. That's a big hunk of the problem, but there's another world out there that's 80% of this problem. So you bet that this is a moment where we better dream big and fight hard because that's how it is that we're going to make the changes we need to make," she said.
9:37 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Warren: "We're not going to build any nuclear power plants"

From CNN's Dan Merica

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday that she would oppose nuclear energy as a way to combat climate change should she be elected president in 2020.

“We’re not going to build any nuclear power plants and we’re going to start weaning ourselves off nuclear energy and replacing it with renewable fuels,” Warren said, adding that she hopes to phase out nuclear power by 2035.

Warren said that while nuclear energy is not carbon-based – and therefore cleaner than some energy sources – there is a clear danger with storage.

“It has a lot of risks associated with it,” Warren said.

9:21 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Elizabeth Warren is now taking questions at the climate crisis town hall


Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren just took the stage at CNN's climate crisis town hall.

She's one of 10 Democratic candidates participating in the 7-hour event event.

11:25 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

What’s Bernie Sanders’ top priority? All of the above.

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Bernie Sanders has put forth a series of plans -- on health care, student debt cancellation and the Green New Deal -- that, taken separately, would each represent a generational change to American domestic policy.

So what is his top priority?

Asked on Wednesday night which policy he would push first if elected, Sanders did not put one before any of the others.

“I have the radical idea that a sane Congress can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time,” Sanders said.

The way to make it all happen, he argued, is to elect lawmakers that support his platform.

“To my mind, it’s not prioritizing this over that. It is finally having a government which represents working families and the middle class, rather than wealthy campaign contributors,” Sanders said. “When you do that, things fall into place.”

9:20 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Here's why Bernie Sanders is talking about birth control at a climate crisis town hall


Sen. Bernie Sanders was asked if he'd make curbing population growth through birth control a key part of his climate plan.

"The planet cannot sustain this growth," the voter said while asking the question.

Sanders said he would, and turned the conversation to women's rights.

"Women in the United States of Americas, by the way, have a right to control their own bodies and make reproductive decisions," he said.

Sanders continued:

"And the Mexico City agreement — which denies American aid to those organizations around the world that allow women to have abortions or even get involved in birth control — to me is totally absurd. So I think, especially in poor countries around the world where women do not necessarily want to have large numbers of babies and where they can have the opportunity through birth control to control the number of kids they have, it's something I very strongly support."
9:10 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Sanders on rolling back Trump climate change actions: "Duh!"

From CNN's Dan Merica:

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was asked on Wednesday whether he would roll back Trump administration plans to overturn requirements on energy saving lightbulbs. He delivered an emphatic answer.

“Duh,” the senator explained with a slight smile.

Sanders added: “Look, one of the great things that’s happening and gives us some hope is that there has been an explosion in technology in many, many areas that if we have the political will to utilize that technology, we can maybe save the planet.”

Donald Trump’s administration lifted energy efficiency regulations for several common types of light bulbs on Wednesday, which critics believe is the administration’s latest assault on efforts to combat climate change and energy use.

Sanders pivoted from the lighthearted answer and made the case for making climate change an international issue.

“Maybe, just maybe, instead of spending a trillion and a half dollars every single year on weapons of destruction designed to kill each other, maybe we pool those resources and we work together against our common enemy, which is climate change,” Sanders said.

9:25 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

It's time for Bernie Sanders' town hall

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is now taking questions from voters about the climate crisis.

He's the sixth Democratic candidiate tonight to participate in the 7-hour event.

9:05 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Biden: "We can take millions of vehicles off the road if we have high-speed rail"

Former Vice President Joe Biden said he's been a "champion" for rail and mass transit.

"I've been pushing really hard for mass transit and for rail. We can take millions of vehicles off the road if we have high-speed rail," he said. "I've been the champion of that for 25 years."

Biden added that in order for new rail lines to be successful, they have to be as fast and as cost efficient as driving.

"It would literally take millions of vehicles off the road. But you have to have a rail system that makes people say, 'If I get on that rail, I will get there as fast as I would have gotten had I driven and I can afford to do it relative to the coast of my driving.'"