MSNBC Climate Change Forum Will Give Voice to Democrats Denied the Debate Stage and One Republican

More than half of the Democratic 2020 candidates set to participate in a two-day climate change forum hosted by Georgetown University have failed to qualify for the third round of Democratic debates.

The forum, moderated by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Ali Velshi, is set to be streamed live on NBC News Now and Telemundo on September 19 and 20. Details regarding the forum’s start time have yet to be announced.

The event initially seemed like another opportunity for Democratic candidates to differentiate themselves from their opponents in a crowded field, but may now be the last chance for some to boost their primary campaign.

The Democrats participating so far include Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, former Maryland Representative John Delaney, Ohio Representative Tim Ryan, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, author Marianne Williamson, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Of these, just Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Sanders, and Yang have qualified for the third round of debates.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand had initially intended to participate in the forum as well, but pulled out when she ended her presidential campaign Wednesday night.

Participating candidates will each be given roughly 25 minutes to speak about their plans for addressing climate change. Then they’ll take questions from the audience, including students from Georgetown University, other D.C.-area universities, and early and primary states.

The forum will be co-hosted by the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service, MSNBC, Our Daily Planet, and New York Magazine.

“Climate change is one of the most important issues on the minds of young voters,” Mo Elleithee, executive director of the Georgetown Institute of Politics & Public Service, said in a statement. “The climate forum will allow candidates to speak substantively about this issue without being restricted to a soundbite answer.”

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found 57% of Americans view global climate change a major threat to the United States. The concern is largely Democratic, with 84% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents holding this view. Still, the Democratic National Committee voted against holding a debate on climate change earlier this week.

Climate change forums outside the DNC, however, are permitted. CNN will host one such forum on September 4. Unlike the MSNBC-sponsored forum, all of CNN’s ten participants have qualified for the third round of debates.

On the other hand, the MSNBC forum will also include former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, one of two Republicans challenging President Donald Trump in the presidential primary.

Weld’s planned appearance underlines a stark difference between him and Trump. While the president has said he is an environmentalist, Trump recently skipped a G7 meeting on climate change and then announced plans to rollback restrictions on methane emissions, a move likely to perpetuate the negative effects of climate change.

Weld, on the other hand, has said “we’re past the point of being able to dispute the science” behind climate change. He has pledged to rejoin the Paris Accords and more closely regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

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