Democrats: All 2020 Debates Should Cover Climate Change Three dozen senators have signed a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates asking for the topic to be examined in every debate. The first 2020 presidential debate is Tuesday.
NPR logo Democrats Criticize Upcoming Debate For Not Including Climate Change

Democrats Criticize Upcoming Debate For Not Including Climate Change

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is leading an effort to ensure climate is addressed at every presidential debate this cycle. Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Green New Deal hide caption

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Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Green New Deal

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is leading an effort to ensure climate is addressed at every presidential debate this cycle.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Green New Deal

When President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden face off Tuesday night in the first presidential debate, there's one topic they're not expected to get asked about: climate.

Thirty-six senators, spearheaded by Ed Markey, D-Mass., signed a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, urging that climate change receive more attention.

Fox News moderator Chris Wallace plans to ask the two candidates questions from a series of topics ranging from their individual records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy and the integrity of the election.

The senators point to various climate crises — including the wildfires in the West and the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico — writing, "The climate crisis isn't coming, it's here."

"It is critical that every debate includes questions that ask the candidates what they would do to address climate change and environmental injustice. Without these topics, any discussion on the economy, racial justice, public health, national security, democracy, or infrastructure would be incomplete," the letter reads.

A recent poll from Climate Nexus, Vice Media Group and other climate groups, found that 74% of voters said it was important to ask about climate change during the debates. In an NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll earlier this month, climate became the top priority for likely Democratic voters.

An additional topic Wallace plans to address with the candidates is "Race and Violence in our Cities." The framing of the topic has drawn criticism from some corners for conflating the issues of race and violence, with many seeing it as characterizing the nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality as inherently violent themselves.

President Trump frequently campaigns on the idea of "law and order" and has pushed for law enforcement crackdowns in cities because of the protests, some of which have led to violence.