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Virtual Florida Climate Roundtable Calls For Change And Pushes For Biden

The climate change plan of presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden, seen here at the Miami Book Fair in 2017, was up for discussion Monday during a virtual conference call.
Miami Herald / WLRN
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

It came a week after the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but a virtual roundtable on climate change and its effects on Florida took place Monday.

The event was held in conjunction with the Joe Biden for President Campaign and spoke about how the former vice president would address the issue if elected. The LCV endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee last week.

The conversation delved into the need for federal action, the effect climate change has on public health, and other various changes that might need to be enacted in the coming years. 

Participants in the virtual roundtable included Chair of the Kathy Castor, D-Tampa; State Senator José Javier Rodríguez, D-Miami; State Representative Delores Hogan-Johnson, D-Fort Pierce; Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber; and public beach advocate Samantha Herring. 

The majority of the conversation centered on how the climate change might unfold in Florida.

“The one place where we desperately need federal action in Florida is addressing causes of climate change,” said Rodríguez. 

“As a coastal state, we really are on the frontlines of this issue. We have to act now,” added Herring, who works with , a non-profit dedicated to preserving the use of Florida’s beaches for recreation.

Biden has previously advocated for reforms to be made, calling climate change the “biggest threat to national security” at a campaign appearancefor former Florida Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018.

Biden’s climate plan, released in June 2019, calls for crucial restructuring to reduce emissions, invest in infrastructure, and create new jobs going forward. 

“We’ve seen what the current leadership has undone for our environment. Joe Biden will listen to citizens,” said Hogan-Johnson. 

Participants also pointed to actions combating climate change taken by Gelber and Castor. 

The Mayor of Miami Beach since late 2017, Gelber has invested funds in environmentally-driven infrastructure improvements. He pointed out this has been done without help from the Trump administration. 

“We don’t debate whether climate change is happening,” said Gelber. “It’s as real as the water in our streets.”

At the same time, Castorhas been an outspoken leader on the issue. She pointed out how the climate crisis coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We know that the climate crisis is going to exacerbate the public health crisis,” said Castor. 

Rodríguez agreed, saying, “Climate is a housing, social justice, jobs, and public health issue.” 

The general belief of participants was that Biden would be the candidate most likely to address the issue of climate change.

“We got to do more than talk the talk,” said Hogan-Johnson. “Joe Biden can help with that immensely.”

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Thomas Iacobucci is the WUSF visual news intern for the fall 2019 semester. He is currently a senior at University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where he is completing his bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Digital Communication.