What the Candidates Might Say Tonight About the World’s Most Important Issue

What to expect when you’re expecting a debate.


clinton trump ad

People pause near a bus adorned with large photos of candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump before the first presidential debate. Mary Altaffer/AP

This story was originally published by Grist and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Climate change is a grave threat to our future, but it probably won’t come up at Monday’s presidential debate. Topics for the event include “Securing America,” and although you’d think issues of national security might involve climate change (the military certainly does), if history is any indication, it likely won’t get mentioned at all.

But if it does get the attention it deserves, here’s where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton stand:

Dirty energy: Clinton supports some natural gas extraction on public lands, is against offshore drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic, and has pledged $30 billion to provide suffering coal communities with health care, education, and job retraining as we move away from coal as a source of energy.

Trump has promised to boost coal production, ease environmental regulations, open federal lands to oil and gas extraction, and increase permits for oil pipelines. He also is considering appointing an oil executive to head the Department of Interior and a fracking mogul to lead the Department of Energy.

Clean energy: Clinton has said she would install more than half a billion solar panels in the United States by the end of her first term, and that under her presidency, we will generate enough clean energy to power every home in America by 2027.

Trump has said wind power is a great killer of birds (it’s not) and that solar is too expensive to be a viable source of energy, despite the fact that the cost of solar has now reached record lows—and with proper government investment, it would get even cheaper. Trump also objects to Obama’s signature environmental legislation, the Clean Power Plan, as well as the Paris Climate Accord, which he says he would cancel.

Environmental justice: After a debate in Flint, Michigan, in April, Clinton said she would require federal agencies to devise plans to deal with lead poisoning and other environmental justice issues, and she pledged to clean up more than 450,000 polluted sites around the United States.

Trump, on the other hand, mocked the Democratic National Committee for including climate justice in the party’s platform, and has previously vowed to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency—or, as he calls it, “the Department of Environmental”—although he’s recently backtracked on that particular idea.

Fossil fuel donations: While Republican presidential candidates can usually count on generous support from the fossil fuel industry, this year is the exception. Between both individual and corporation donations, Clinton has taken nearly twice as much from Big Oil as Trump, and some oil execs may even vote for her. Looks like we can add this to the list of things the great race of 2016 has upended.

Third and fourth party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson won’t be at the debate Monday night, which is too bad, because they tend to have the most interesting answers on climate change…and everything else.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

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IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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