Clinton vs. Trump: Will the presidential hopefuls make climate change a focus for Sunday’s debate?

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather Staff Writer
October 8, 2016; 5:05 PM

Despite their sharp contrast on climate change, the subject has not been a major topic of discussion in the 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

In the first debate between Clinton and Trump on Sept. 26., only one minute and 22 seconds was spent on climate change and other environmental issues.

In comparison with presidential debates since 2000, this is the second least amount of time spent on environmental policy. Although it has been a hot-button issue, it was not discussed at all in the 2012 presidential election between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

The high point for green issues came during the 2000 presidential debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

2016: so far: 1 minute, 22 seconds in one presidential debate.

2012: 0 minutes.

2008: 5 minutes, 18 seconds in two presidential debates. An additional 5 minutes, 48 seconds in a vice presidential debate.

2004: 5 minutes, 14 seconds in a single presidential debate.

2000: 14 minutes, 3 seconds in three presidential debates. 5 minutes, 21 seconds in a vice presidential debate.

This data is provided by

While Clinton believes that it is an urgent issue, Trump has called climate change a “hoax” in the past.

In the first debate, Clinton accused Trump of believing that climate change is “a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.”

Trump interjected and said that was false. However, as social media users quickly discovered, he had said exactly that in a 2012 tweet.

In a previous AccuWeather poll from February 2016, 58 percent of voters said that a candidate’s stance on climate change would not influence their vote in the election.

Though Trump’s rejection of climate science will not influence everyone’s vote, it may help Clinton reach millennial voters. According to a Harvard study, three out of four millennials believe in climate change.

“… Never thought when I gave my acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention that I would have to put in the following sentence: I believe in science,” Clinton said to the University of New Hampshire campus on Sept. 28.

Young voters have consistently ranked climate change as an important issue, and Clinton’s position is a major divide with both Trump and Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate.

Clinton’s environmental allies are urging her campaign and debate moderators to keep climate change in the spotlight as the political campaign continues.

17 thoughts on “Clinton vs. Trump: Will the presidential hopefuls make climate change a focus for Sunday’s debate?

  1. Despite the well-earned criticisms about some of Hilary’s Wall St. dealings, she, at least has a record of support for conservation issues, and certainly does not think Climate Change is a “hoax” as Trump has said numerous times. She also has publicly supported Planned Parenthood, and abortion rights, while Trump was forced to come clean about his opinion on women who have abortions: “there should be some form of punishment.” The Supreme Court is now up for grabs, and Trump has clearly indicated his choice would be very opposite to the kind of person Hilary would want to appoint, to protect Roe v. Wade, and other rights.
    If Trump were to be elected, say good-by to the any reproductive rights, and any efforts to mitigate Climate Change, or to save wild animals and wild habitat.
    Unfortunately, neither the reproductive rights of women, animal rights, Nature, or the increasing dangers of man-made Climate Change appear to be high on the list of the general public (if at all). Once again, its about jobs, jobs, with racism, sexism thrown in, and more of the never-ending human growth machine.
    I personally think that Hilary bashing is part of the sexist theme permeating in today’s anti-intellectual, evangelical-leaning, anti-government agenda, especially fired up by Trump. There are many in our racist, sexist society that will not condone having a woman for president. And, non-humans? They do not have a chance with such a repressive agenda.

  2. Unfortunately, neither the reproductive rights of women, animal rights, Nature, or the increasing dangers of man-made Climate Change appear to be high on the list of the general public (if at all).

    This is my big angst. None of these things, with the exception of women’s reproductive rights and racism, seem to be high on the list of the general public, and the first ones to be sacrificed in a crisis. I don’t think they’ll ever rate very highly. I don’t think it is only sexism that seems to be limiting Hillary, she’s disappointing. She’s appearing more and more to be an elitist – no representative of the nation refers to its members in generalized terms as ‘deplorables’ and ‘basement dwelling, underemployed millennials’! I’m appalled that Bernie is now trying to put a positive spin on the term she’s used for his supporters! And I simply cannot lend any kind of support to Ken Salazar or Sportsmen’s Act in any form, no matter how or who is packaging it.

    I’m I know there are (unfortunately) no guarantees that a candidate will make good on his or her promises, but as a long-time animal welfare/rights proponent and wild lands protector, we never seem to be at the top of the list. I do have to thank President Obama for the progress that has been made. I do not want to see another 4 years, or even 8 years, of compromising. I’m tired of throwing my vote into the ring, crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. I want a little more knowledge beforehand.

    I’m not sure I’ll even watch the debate tonight, as last time most of it was attempts at character assassination. Trump isn’t the best candidate by any means – but he’s hardly the only man that has ever made crude comments. The faux outrage is hypocrisy to me. Sure, it’s repulsive, and I have no idea how he’s made it this far.

  3. I wish the party and the media would take the focus off Trump’s character flaws, and blaming Russia, on to what exactly they plan to do, now and in the future! Maybe spy writers are happy that the Cold War is back on again). Once the Wikileaks are all in, I’ll make my decision. Hurry, Julian!!!!

    • What’s scary is all of the Wikileaks make you wonder just what does go on in the Halls of Power and Influence that we don’t know about!!! It makes me cringe.

      And all of the outrage about Trump’s crude comment; do they really want to compare the behavior of the Democrats also?

      • I also wonder about the deals being made in the background, especially when I hear about the decisions being made.

        Unfortunately, most people seem more interested in Trump trash talk and scandal than under-the-counter wheeling and dealing.

      • Yes, the “TP” trade agreement has environmental loopholes that you could drive several trucks through, from what I initially read. The usual suggested but optional compliance requirements.

      • The Demos have Mark Cuban of ‘Girls Gone Wild’ notoriety, Anthony Weiner, and their candidate’s own husband, defiling the Oval Office. Do they really want to go there? I guess in that Ivory Tower what goes on on the ground is ignored.

      • Trump’s long (and current) lewd, denigrating, sexist comments should be exposed. This behavior is part of his flawed personality and lack of character, indicating just the kind of behavior he would continue whether in Washington, or elsewhere. He has no regard for women, or people who are not as Aryan looking as he is. Why any self-respecting woman would ever make excuses for this horrible “man” or aligned herself with him, is very disgusting. Say good-by to any possible Supreme Court rulings in favor of women’s rights including abortion rights, if this dangerous, bully-clown gets in. If people do support this guy, and he is elected, it will sadly prove that this country is indeed reflecting his white supremacist/racist, anti-environmental (he thinks Climate Change is a hoax?) agenda. I do not agree with certain things Hilary stands for, but as a woman, I will not in any way support this terrible excuse for a “man” to become president.

      • What’s to wonder about? Clinton’s previous strong support of TPP and her speeches to Goldman Sachs are well-known, as are Trump’s lewd and demeaning remarks. You can believe Clinton or not as to whether she has indeed changed her position, but the release of her old speeches changes nothing.
        The so-called debates are largely a sideshow to an election which is a contest between two opposing cultures. One, aptly described by Clinton as deplorable, but more pointedly described by Obama (again to a closed-door fundraising meeting) as those who cling to guns and religion. The other culture recognizes climate change as a serious human-caused problem, and supports the right to birth control. What is elitist about pointing this out?
        Either Trump or Clinton will be the next President. Clinton, at least, will attempt to appoint Supreme Court justices and other judges who support the right to birth control, though it remains to be seen whether she will have a Senate which will confirm her appointments. Otherwise, don’t expect anything from her administration. Even though she recognizes climate change and Trump does not, she would not be able, even she even wanted, to implement a policy which will reverse climate change. It’s simply too late.

  4. I ended up watching the debates last night. DT said flat out that the EPA is inhibiting economic growth (I knew it!). The circular reasoning though, about his crude comments is the height of hypocrisy, and that’s what gets me. For BC, the Demos defended him as his behavior not having an effect on his job (which it didn’t), but it certainly disrespected the office of the Presidency, and he lied about it. But the same reasoning doesn’t hold for others. Madison Square Garden just might be able to accommodate all the guys who make crude comments like that about women. The height of hypocrisy!

    HC said that her comments about having two standards, one for public consumption and the other for private dealings, she claimed was part of a discussion about the Steven Spielberg film Abraham Lincoln, about having to use ‘different arguments’ to get things done. 😦

    Stay tuned…..

  5. I’m limiting my exposure to the meda comments, though, because I just cannot stomach all the dirty tactics. Dredging up Bill Clinton’s sex scandals again is just too gross to me. You have to question the logic there – if the media brings up the moral failings of one, there are many more that they shine their light on. Ugh.

  6. I had to share a sharp observation by a commenter: In all of the thousands upon thousands of Hillary’s hacked emails, not one mentions climate change. Stay tuned, hope may spring eternal….

    • Really, isn’t this all a distraction from discussing the very real issues? Climate Change is upon us, and is especially affecting those who cannot voice concerns. Nothing will probably be done of any consequence. All the terrible “industrial wind generators” and Mega-solar arrays, slated to be pushed upon more open areas (such as in quaint, little Vermont), will have little impact in the overall planetary situation–except to make lots of $$$ for the corporations pushing this industrial panacea.

  7. The two campaign positions on climate change are sufficiently different to easily warrant choosing one candidate over the other, and well reflect the cultural gulf mentioned above. Whether anything can be done effectively about the crisis, or that Hillary is “disappointing” misses the point. The whole system is “disappointing.” Voting for Jill Stein (who could accomplish no more about climate change hypothetically than Hillary) is to consciously legitimize and approve of the disappointing system, in which case critiques of Hillary are irrelevant. Most relevant is to stall global catastrophes ushered on by the likes of Trump and his culture which all-too-well represent such ominous pathways and explain “how he’s made it this far.”

    • You’re right. Trump, of course says “climate change is a hoax,” and is clearly not interested in any environmental matters except to weaken environmental regulations. But, we must remember, this guy is not operating with any conscience, or concerns about anyone or anything but his own needs, and Ego. His Narcissistic Personality Disorder rules, and he is clearly out of control. He cannot tell the truth, because he is incapable of doing so, no matter what.

      Anyone concerned about Climate Change, Nature or Animals, Civil Liberties, Racism, Sexism, Reproductive Freedom, had better understand just who they are voting for, if they vote for Trump.

      Trump’s campaign will continue to the end, disrupting whatever he can, denigrating whomever he can, because he has the Alt. Right Wing Crazies supporting him, along with Info Wars, which constantly spews more hatred, violence. Trump’s mostly white, under- educated males (& some women just like them), along with some hard-core Evangelicals, will not go away after this election, if Hilary wins. They truly believe that Trump will lead them back to the delusional “promised land” of the glorious 1950’s–when women and “colored people” knew their place, and the White picket fence even looked good around the trailer park.

      If we have learned nothing else about this tragic campaign, we should face the stark reality that this is a deeply, culturally- divided country, which Trump has stirred up from Dark recesses, and he is their Hero, just as Hitler or Mussolini was to many followers. They were allowed to literally get away with murder—and it just may happen again. History does, indeed repeat itself.

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