The last time a presidential debate moderator asked a presidential candidate about climate change during a debate was in 2008, Grist reports.
According to a recent report by the policy group Climate Power 2020, candidates were asked two questions about climate change 12 years ago. The topic hasn't been brought up in a debate by a moderator since.
The list of topics that moderator Chris Wallace plans to ask former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump about on Tuesday does not include the environment.
According to Grist, 2008 was the last time both candidates brought up the science behind climate change and noted they wanted to do something about it.
The outlet reports that GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said "We know that [climate change] is real" and "We've got to reduce emissions."
Both presidential candidates that year, John McCain and former President Barack Obama, were running on platforms that called for capping carbon emissions across all 50 states, according to Grist.
During the debates they were asked to discuss the causes of climate change and to share how they would reduce dependence on foreign oil for "energy and climate control."
Four years later, Obama mentioned green jobs and clean energy, but the topic wasn't brought up by debate moderators.
In 2016, Trump often called climate change a "hoax." An audience member was the only one who asked a question about climate change during the debates, according to Grist.
David Steinberg, a political communications expert at the University of Miami, told the outlet it isn't surprising climate change isn't a debate topic.
He said the questions "are going to be based on what shows up in polling data among those people who are direct targets."
According to a poll conducted by George Mason University and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication back in April, climate change ranks 13th as a priority for voters.
Steinberg said candidates can still talk about the topic even if they aren't directly asked about it. He likened the debates to "joint press conferences" where candidates can "find a way to get around to things that they think will benefit them, whether or not the question is asked."
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