Jun. 11--In 2016, the two presidential candidates spent all of five minutes and 27 seconds on climate change during three televised debates.

Now Democrats seeking the White House in the 2020 election are all but falling over each other with sweeping proposals for recasting the economy by promoting renewable energy, with a goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions nationally by midcentury.

The presidential hopefuls are taking cues from the Green New Deal resolution, introduced in February by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, which set a high bar for action and urgency.

To be sure, their proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 is an overreach that is further burdened with costly social engineering goals involving guaranteed jobs and health care. But at least they helped elevate climate change to a national debate as people were hurting from record California wildfires, widespread flooding hit the Midwest and the scientific evidence grew increasingly indisputable.

Democratic voters are telling pollsters that climate change is one of their top concerns, and nearly half of young adults surveyed call it a "crisis." Candidates are taking note. Detailed action plans sprouted from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee -- running as a climate candidate -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke and, last week, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The plans contain some important ideas. These including sticking with the Paris Agreement (President Donald Trump would pull Washington out, leaving the United States as an international pariah), pushing ahead with Obama-era fuel economy standards, embracing nuclear power as part of a clean-energy solution, and imposing some kind of price on carbon.

We continue to believe that the best approach would be a refundable national carbon tax that would make renewables and carbon-capture schemes more competitive -- and prevent emitters from using the atmosphere as a free waste dump. Ideally, such a tax would be imposed in concert with similar actions by the world's other leading carbon emitters, so no nation would bear a disproportionate burden.

With the United States responsible for 15% of the global carbon pollution, Biden's plan would use U.S. economic pressure to prompt China and other major polluters to rein in their greenhouse gas emissions.

Disappointingly, the Democratic National Committee has scheduled up to 12 debates and refuses to devote even one solely to climate change. Given the importance of the issue, this is a mistake.

Nonetheless, the contrast between Democratic proposals to address climate change and cricket-chirping silence from the Republican Party is breathtaking. Trump remains willfully, and at times incoherently, ignorant about the threat.

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"I believe that there's a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways," Trump told interviewer Piers Morgan last week, allowing that he was "moved" by the passion Prince Charles displayed for protecting future generations from the impact of a warming planet.

Indeed, members of a new generation will go to the polls in 2020. Right now, only one political party is seriously addressing the threat posed by climate change, and it isn't Trump or the GOP.

If you can't see this reader poll, please refresh your page. ___

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