Last night’s vice presidential debate featured an important exchange on climate change. Grist is posting the video and transcript excerpt below:

Moderator Gwen Ifill’s question to Sarah Palin: “Governor, I’m happy to talk to you in this next section about energy issues. Let’s talk about climate change. What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change?”

Here’s the transcript of this section of the debate:

IFILL: Governor, I’m happy to talk to you in this next section about energy issues. Let’s talk about climate change. What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change?

PALIN: Yes. Well, as the nation’s only Arctic state and being the governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that it’s real.

I’m not one to attribute every man — activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet.

But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don’t want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?

We have got to clean up this planet. We have got to encourage other nations also to come along with us with the impacts of climate change, what we can do about that.

As governor, I was the first governor to form a climate change sub-cabinet to start dealing with the impacts. We’ve got to reduce emissions. John McCain is right there with an “all of the above” approach to deal with climate change impacts.

We’ve got to become energy independent for that reason. Also as we rely more and more on other countries that don’t care as much about the climate as we do, we’re allowing them to produce and to emit and even pollute more than America would ever stand for. So even in dealing with climate change, it’s all the more reason that we have an “all of the above” approach, tapping into alternative sources of energy and conserving fuel, conserving our petroleum products and our hydrocarbons so that we can clean up this planet and deal with climate change.

IFILL: Senator, what is true and what is false about the causes?

JOE BIDEN: Well, I think it is manmade. I think it’s clearly manmade. And, look, this probably explains the biggest fundamental difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and Sarah Palin and Joe Biden — Governor Palin and Joe Biden.

If you don’t understand what the cause is, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade. That’s the cause. That’s why the polar icecap is melting.

Now, let’s look at the facts. We have 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves. We consume 25 percent of the oil in the world. John McCain has voted 20 times in the last decade-and-a-half against funding alternative energy sources, clean energy sources, wind, solar, biofuels.

The way in which we can stop the greenhouse gases from emitting. We believe — Barack Obama believes by investing in clean coal and safe nuclear, we can not only create jobs in wind and solar here in the United States, we can export it.

China is building one to three new coal-fired plants burning dirty coal per week. It’s polluting not only the atmosphere but the West Coast of the United States. We should export the technology by investing in clean coal technology.

We should be creating jobs. John McCain has voted 20 times against funding alternative energy sources and thinks, I guess, the only answer is drill, drill, drill. Drill we must, but it will take 10 years for one drop of oil to come out of any of the wells that are going to begun to be drilled.

In the meantime, we’re all going to be in real trouble.

IFILL: Let me clear something up, Senator McCain has said he supports caps on carbon emissions. Senator Obama has said he supports clean coal technology, which I don’t believe you’ve always supported.

BIDEN: I have always supported it. That’s a fact.

IFILL: Well, clear it up for us, both of you, and start with Governor Palin.

PALIN: Yes, Senator McCain does support this. The chant is “drill, baby, drill.” And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into. They know that even in my own energy-producing state we have billions of barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean, green natural gas. And we’re building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline which is North America’s largest and most you expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets.

Barack Obama and Senator Biden, you’ve said no to everything in trying to find a domestic solution to the energy crisis that we’re in. You even called drilling — safe, environmentally-friendly drilling offshore as raping the outer continental shelf.

There — with new technology, with tiny footprints even on land, it is safe to drill and we need to do more of that. But also in that “all of the above” approach that Senator McCain supports, the alternative fuels will be tapped into: the nuclear, the clean coal.

I was surprised to hear you mention that because you had said that there isn’t anything — such a thing as clean coal. And I think you said it in a rope line, too, at one of your rallies.

IFILL: We do need to keep within our two minutes. But I just wanted to ask you, do you support capping carbon emissions?

PALIN: I do. I do.

IFILL: OK. And on the clean coal issue?

BIDEN: Absolutely. Absolutely we do. We call for setting hard targets, number one…

IFILL: Clean coal.

BIDEN: Oh, I’m sorry.

IFILL: On clean coal.

BIDEN: Oh, on clean coal. My record, just take a look at the record. My record for 25 years has supported clean coal technology. A comment made in a rope line was taken out of context. I was talking about exporting that technology to China so when they burn their dirty coal, it won’t be as dirty, it will be clean.

But here’s the bottom line, Gwen: How do we deal with global warming with continued addition to carbon emissions? And if the only answer you have is oil, and John — and the governor says John is for everything.

Well, why did John vote 20 times? Maybe he’s for everything as long as it’s not helped forward by the government. Maybe he’s for everything if the free market takes care of it. I don’t know. But he voted 20 times against funding alternative energy sources.

Earlier in the debate, Biden defended Obama’s record on 2005 energy bill:

Just ahead of the climate change question, Palin focused again on energy:

washingtonpost.com has a cool feature that lets you watch the video of the debate and read the transcript at the same time. Here’s a direct link to post.com’s treatment of the climate change question.