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2020 Democratic Candidates to Discuss Climate Change Tonight; Interview with Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA); Walmart to Stop Open Carry, Selling Handgun Ammunition in Stores. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 04, 2019 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: David also just returned from Greenland, where he got an up-close look at the real impact of climate change. And Tracy Raczek is with us, a climate policy advisor who worked at the United Nations, advising Ban Ki-moon and others, all leading up to the Paris climate agreement.

So thank you both for being here. Let me begin with you, Tracy, on the science. Because we'll get to the politics in a moment, but there is indisputable fact and science that tells us that the crisis is exacerbating natural disasters, is there not?

TRACY RACZEK, CLIMATE POLICY ADVISOR: Absolutely. I mean, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been sounding the alarm bells for quite some time, that the world is careening towards a climate crisis and it's only been getting worse.

So the impacts are going to be seen and are already being seen, as we have before us today, in health and the agriculture sector, on energy crisis, in forestry and across the breadth, ecological disasters, et cetera. So if we continue on the pathways that we're seeing right now, as just one small example, we're going to have potentially 30 percent of our plants and species at risk of extinction by 2100. '

So the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, again, has complete consensus on that we're looking at. Yes. And the costs are incredibly high as well --


RACZEK: -- to our economy.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: So, David Gergen, like everything, there is a political divide on how this is approached or even what people believe.

Look at the latest Quinnipiac poll. So if you ask Democrats, 84 to 14, they say that climate change is an emergency. You ask independents, also a large margin there: 63 believe it is, 36 do not. But if you ask Republicans, it's the other way around. Republicans say it's not an emergency: 81 percent say yes, 18 percent, no.

And I wonder, is that because they just don't believe it? Or is it partly a product of the kind of echo chambers that we occupy, that in, for instance on "Fox News," you listen to the president. Or on social media, you have climate denial, right? As a fairly common viewpoint in the news sources, information sources a lot of folks follow in these echo chambers.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree. Listen, Jim. The big and most important issue here, the point is that science -- there is no divide among scientists. Less than two percent of scientists are skeptical about climate change.

Almost -- the -- Tracy just talked about something which is very important, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which reports to the U.N. And they reported, at the end of 2018, that we have 12 years, from 2018 until 2030, to either address this or we're going to have irreversible damage.

Those months, those years are now starting to click off. And Democrats will tell you -- I think one of the things they'll tell you tonight is, "OK, we have 12 years. If you re-elect Donald Trump" -- this is what the Democrats will say tonight -- "If you re-elect Donald Trump, by the time he's out, we'll only have six years left. And that's way too short to make it --

HARLOW: David?

GERGEN: -- "to make it. And we'll have irreversible damage and very recklessly so."

HARLOW: You were just in Greenland, David. I think you sent us the photos --


HARLOW: -- let's pull them up.


HARLOW: Talk to us about what you saw.

GERGEN: Sure. Oh, it was fantastic. I went there thinking it was a practical imperative, to deal with climate change. I came away feel it's a moral imperative. When you see what's happening in Greenland, it is an early -- it's an early set of signals about what's going to happen to the globe.

The glaciers are retreating, they're breaking off and forming icebergs. There are these beautiful icebergs, but they're all -- they're breaking up. There is a growing danger that the ice cap will melt in Greenland, that we will have, you know, there won't be a big ice cap in the summer.

And that the net result of that is that we're going to have a rise in sea levels that will be significant, coming from Greenland. And added to other sources of new water, higher water, we could have cities in the United States, engulfed --

HARLOW: Yes. GERGEN: -- in floods. So it's serious. It's beautiful. One of the

things is, when you go to Greenland, and you sit there in solitude and just look at the glaciers and think about where we are, they're so beautiful and we're so fortunate, as mankind, to have inherited, and to be left this legacy. Are we really going to destroy this legacy in our generation?

HARLOW: Right, right.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I had a similar reaction. David, I went to the North Pole with the U.S. Navy and --

HARLOW: I remember that.

SCIUTTO: -- the ice is shrinking. Yes, it's there. And you ask the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Navy is not a climate denier. It's on their website, they're preparing for climate change --

GERGEN: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: -- and the national security consequences of it.

I wonder, Tracy, I heard this from some of our meteorologists, as we -- meteorologists, as we've been talking about the advance of Hurricane Dorian, that in addition to tides, storm surge, et cetera, but that there are already higher sea levels exacerbating storm surge from this storm. Is there data that shows that?

RACZEK: Absolutely. And one thing to remember about sea level rise is, it's not the same everywhere. So sea level rise differentiates in different parts of the planet, based on various factors. But -- so there's many wild cards, and the Arctic is one of them, the -- Antarctica is another, et cetera. So it's really interesting that David just went there and got to see it firsthand.


But -- so as a quick example is, the Mediterranean is a little bit warmer, the Atlantic is a little bit warmer than the Pacific, the equator belt is a little bit warmer. So sea level rise is not uniform. And that places some coastal areas -- the coast off China is warmer -- so some, most of the world lives on the coast. And that places us at greater risk.

HARLOW: Sure. Let's just ask you, finally, about tonight. We're going to hear all of these 10 Democrats put out their plans, and then our anchors will press them --


HARLOW: on them, right? What stands out to you the most? And what do you say to so many people watching, who feel helpless? Like individual change and action accomplishes nothing because this problem is so grand.

RACZEK: Yes. If I can mention two quick things. HARLOW: Sure.

RACZEK: One is, there was a comment earlier about Republicans versus Democrats. First of all, it's less divisive than ever before. They're -- when you look at polls, there are -- those that are worried are very worried, are increasing amongst all populations, including the conservatives, liberals, Republicans, et cetera, at different rates, but all are increasing.

And occupations that are held by what are considered conservatives of Republicans are more impacted or influenced by climate change than others. For example, trucking, construction, oil and gas sector, forestry, agriculture --

SCIUTTO: Farming.

RACZEK: -- farming. Those are typically held by more conservative voters.



RACZEK: And so they have reason to care, and they have reason to be part of the solutions, going forward, and I really hope that we hear about that tonight.

SCIUTTO: That's a good point. Because we always imagine that these things are so intractable, that people's positions don't move and change.

And fact is, there is, as you note, some data that that's not entirely true.

RACZEK: Yes, yes.

SCIUTTO: David Gergen, Tracy Raczek, thanks very much.

RACZEK: Thank you.

GERGEN: Can I have one last point here?

HARLOW: Yes, of course.

GERGEN: Sure. This, it's so important to -- this is an issue on which we can and should be able to restore the bipartisanship that once existed about climate.

It is important to remember that the Environmental Protection Agency was started by Republicans, by Richard Nixon, of all people. And that the other Republicans -- Ronald Reagan went green along with Margaret Thatcher, during his time in office. This is an issue on which we should be able to come to some bipartisan agreement.

HARLOW: It's a very good point, David. To both of you, Tracy, thank you both for being here. We'll all be watching tonight. [10:37:31]

This starts the CNN series on the climate crisis. It begins tonight, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, goes all the way to midnight. You're not going to want to miss it, all 10 leading candidates will take the stage here, to address this critical issue, only on CNN. We'll be right back.


HARLOW: All right, welcome back. We are continuing to follow Hurricane Dorian as it makes its way up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Georgia, obviously, is in the path here, as this storm heads to the Carolinas.

So with me on the phone now is Congressman Buddy Carter, he represents Georgia's 1st District. He joins me now. Congressman, can you hear me?

REP. BUDDY CARTER (R-GA) (via telephone): Yes, I can.

HARLOW: Talk to me a little bit about what you're preparing for.

CARTER (via telephone): Well, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and that's the responsibility of the Emergency Management personnel, and they've done an outstanding job, from Camden all the way up the coast to Chatham County, all of them are well- prepared.

Unfortunately, this is not our first rodeo. We've been through this before. In fact, we've been through it a couple -- three times over the last few years. And we know what to do. It's just a matter of convincing people that this is still a very dangerous storm. Yes, it is off the coast now, and it's projected to stay off the coast. But the only predictability about hurricanes it that they're unpredictable.

HARLOW: That is for sure. So just to give people a sense of your district, you've got the entire coastal area of Sea Island, you've got Savannah, you've got Brunswick, Jesup, Waycross, et cetera.

I know that one of your concerns is that because Dorian has been so slow-moving, and because this storm has been downgraded from a Cat 5 to a Cat 2, that people are becoming complacent.

CARTER (via telephone): Well, and it's a good reason to be concerned because I will tell you, a Category 2 hurricane is a very dangerous storm, and we need to keep that in mind. We also need to keep in mind, if this storm were to wobble, as hurricanes do, if it were to wobble 20 miles west and come closer to the coast, it could be devastating.

Right now, we have a new moon, we got high tides without this going on. We fear the storm surge is going to be in combination with the high tides. We also are going to have some strong rain bands. That's going to bring us a lot of rain. And also, the wind is always a concern. [10:45:06]

HARLOW: I know that you've been pushing people to evacuate who are in the evacuation zones. And right now, you have contraflow open on I- 16, right? Which means that people have more --

CARTER (via telephone): It is.

HARLOW: -- they have more lanes available to get out.

CARTER (via telephone): That's right. Now, that will end at lunchtime, at noon today, that contraband (ph) will end.

HARLOW: OK. What's your message to everyone listening right now who has stayed put in the evacuation zones?

CARTER (via telephone): Please be careful. Please heed the advice of the emergency personnel. They know what they're talking about. This is a very serious storm. Please be careful.

HARLOW: Congressman, we wish you luck. I know you've been through this before. We hope it is not bad, but you never know. We'll talk to you soon. Thanks so much, Congressman Buddy Carter --

CARTER: Thank you very much.

HARLOW: -- of Georgia's 1st District.

SCIUTTO: Well, it has been a month, if you can believe it, since the deadly shooting at an El Paso Walmart. America's largest retailer now says it is done selling all handgun ammunition. That's not the only move Walmart is making in the fight against gun violence. We're going to discuss that, coming up.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Walmart is making big changes in the wake of the deadly shooting at a store in El Paso just a month ago. The nation's largest retailer, announcing that it will stop selling ammunition for handguns and short-barrel rifles.

This comes just one month after 22 people were killed at the El Paso Walmart. The company said it will also request that customers no longer openly carry guns into its stores.

Joining me now to discuss? Igor Volsky, he's the executive director for Guns Down America. Thanks so much for taking the time this morning. I was in El Paso for this and, having covered a number of these shootings at this point, of course, the question always is, "Will this time be different?" Will change come?

It appears the politics of this have not fundamentally changed, no action yet, at least, on the Hill. But when you see a step like this from Walmart, you saw Dick Sporting Goods make a similar step after a past mass shooting. Does it indicate to you that the private sector could end up leading the way on this?

IGOR VOLSKY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GUNS DOWN AMERICA: Oh, absolutely, Jim. And the reality is, Congress is deadlocked. So we have to turn to other voices in society with influence, with political influence, to help us build safer communities with fewer guns.

And that's why we're thrilled, absolutely thrilled, that Walmart is taking this important action, and we would urge it to go even further because Congress is coming back into session on September 9th. Walmart and other major corporations, throughout America, should be actively lobbying on this issue. They should be using the leverage that they have with lawmakers on the Hill.

And I think, frankly, they should reassess their political giving because there's no reason why they should be giving to lawmakers who take money from the NRA, and who make our communities and their businesses and their employees, who put them at risk from gun violence.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, though. Can the private sector effectively, if not fill the void entirely, but a significant part of the void? I mean, for instance, Walmart's going to stop selling handgun ammunition after they run out of the current supply. There are a lot of other places you can buy handgun ammunition. So is this actually a replacement or a partial replacement for legal action?

VOLSKY: Well, I think you need both, right? What corporate action does is, it begins to change the culture. It provides political cover to politicians. But, Jim, you're absolutely right. You've got to fix the foundation in the system. You have to raise the standard for gun ownership in this country, through reforms like gun licensing and registration. We need both to build safer communities.

SCIUTTO: From the companies' perspective here, do they pay an economic price for this? Do customers shy away? I mean, it's early, I suppose, to assess that for Walmart. But did Dick's Sporting Goods face an economic price when it made a comparable decision?

VOLSKY: Well, Dick's Sporting Goods said that they didn't. In fact, they seem to be doing very well after the decision. I think the same thing will happen with Walmart because, look, ultimately, what millions of Americans recognize and now what businesses are increasingly recognizing, is that when you limit access to firearms, that's when you begin to increase safety.

And so I think, in many ways, what corporate America is doing is, they're responding to public opinion, where public opinion is shifting on this issue. And I think that Congress really needs to follow suit here.

SCIUTTO: Is it shifting, for real?


SCIUTTO: Do you notice that? And how do you measure that? VOLSKY: Well, look, Jim. I mean, you saw after Parkland, 40

companies announced that they would stop doing business with the NRA. We saw two huge banks, Bank of America and Citibank, announce they're not going to do business with manufacturers of assault weapons. Now comes Walmart with this decision.

You see big movement. And even in the public, in public opinion, you have, you know, over 80 percent of Americans say that they support gun licensing. This is without any big political leader pushing for those kinds of reforms. That is so incredibly significant because Americans understand that because we have more guns than people in this country, we are all at risk.


It's not a question of if there will be another shooting, it's a question of when. I think Americans are waking up to this issue.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, it's in the facts, it's in the numbers. You can't deny it, the facts are there. Igor Volsky, thanks so much for taking the time.

VOLSKY: Thanks, Jim.

HARLOW: All right. So still to come at any minute, we're going to get the next update on the path of Hurricane Dorian. That's at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. We'll bring it to you as we get new video from the Bahamas and the devastation left behind by this storm. We have crews on the ground there, stay with us for that.



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.