The Associated Press fact-checked climate change distortions by Democrats in CNN’s second presidential debate, noting that climate change scientists “don’t lay out a looming point of no return, as Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke asserted.”
During the debate, former Texas Rep. O’Rourke said, “I listen to scientists on this and they’re very clear: We don’t have more than 10 years to get this right. And we won’t meet that challenge with half-steps, half-measures or only half the country.”
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Buttigieg said, “Science tells us we have 12 years before we reach the horizon of our catastrophe when it comes to our climate.”
The Associated Press disagreed.
“THE FACTS: Scientists don’t agree on an approximate time frame, let alone an exact number of years, for how much time we have left to stave off the deadliest extremes of climate change.
A report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, drawn from the work of hundreds of scientists, uses 2030 as a prominent benchmark because signatories to the Paris climate change agreement have pledged emission cuts by then. But it’s not a last-chance, hard deadline for action, as O’Rourke, Buttigieg and others have interpreted it.
“The hotter it gets, the worse it gets, but there is no cliff edge,” James Skea, co-chairman of the report, told the Associated Press.
Climate scientists certainly see the necessity for broad and immediate action to address climate change, but they do not agree that 2030 is a “point of no return,” as Buttigieg put it.
“This has been a persistent source of confusion,” agreed Kristie L. Ebi, director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington in Seattle. “The report never said we only have 12 years left.”