06/05/2019 19:02 EDT | Updated 06/05/2019 19:17 EDT

Jay Inslee Says DNC Has Officially Refused His Demands For A Climate Debate

The Washington governor and at least five of his fellow Democratic presidential candidates have been petitioning the party for months.

Presidential candidate Jay Inslee said Wednesday that the Democratic National Committee informed him it will not sanction a climate change-focused debate, despite his and other 2020 candidates’ calls for the party to host one.

The Washington governor, who’s made climate issues the focal point of his campaign, said he was disappointed after receiving a call from officials Wednesday confirming their decision.

“The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time,” he said in a statement.

DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa confirmed to HuffPost on Wednesday that it would not host a climate debate or any issue-specific debates “because we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance to American voters.”

It’s up to the news organizations that the DNC partners with on the debates to decide what issues to press the candidates on, she said. 

“The DNC has told media partners from the start the importance of climate change during the debates for the 2020 cycle, and, frankly, it’s an issue that should have been more prominent during the 2016 cycle,” Hinojosa said. 

At least five other Democratic candidates for president have backed Inslee in his demands for a climate-only debate. In the years since the 2016 election ― when climate change came up for just five minutes and 27 seconds during all the presidential debates ― unprecedented climate catastrophes in the U.S., ranging from hurricanes to wildfires, have pushed the issue to the forefront of more candidates’ campaigns. 

Inslee says the DNC needs to recognize that with a debate.

“We’ve kicked the can down the road for too long,” he added in his statement. “The climate crisis merits a full discussion of our plans, not a short exchange of talking points. The next President must make defeating this crisis the top priority of the nation.”

Inslee’s announcement comes the day after some stunning news about the state of the planet. On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that global carbon dioxide concentrations last month were the highest since it started recording them more than half a century ago. That concentration of 414.7 parts per million, other research has found, may be higher than at any other point in human history.

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