In a nationwide day of action on Tuesday, both incoming and incumbent House Democrats are being called on to embrace the growing demand of New Green Deal in order to answer a simple questions: Are they on the side of the fossil fuel industry or that of a sustainable, green energy future that will create millions of new, good-paying jobs?
The youth-led climate action group Sunrise Movement has planned more than 350 events targeting Democrats, pressuring the party that claims to support climate science to prove their commitment by backing the Green New Deal—the bold set of proposals aimed at investing in green infrastructure, technology, and jobs to both curb the fossil fuel emissions fueling the climate crisis and strengthen the U.S. economy.
Jeremy Ornstein, a Massachusetts teenager whose impassioned plea to Democrats went viral last week after he demanded lawmakers “get out of the way” if their “hands are too deep in the pockets of the fossil fuel executives” to take meaningful action to solve the climate crisis, released a video calling on young people to take part in the mass mobilization.
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“The momentum for this is rolling and we’re winning victories every day,” Ornstein said, pointing to the growing number of representatives who have expressed support for the Green New Deal. “That’s why we cannot stop now. We have too much on the line—our futures, our homes, we’ve been living in fear of a climate catastrophe, in anger about the corruption and negligence of our politicians for far too long. We can’t back down.”
“The United States has lost nearly a decade on making significant political progress on climate change,” said Janet Redman, Greenpeace USA Climate Director. “Our new leaders in Congress need to make up for lost time. Heart-wrenching evidence emerges almost daily of the urgent need for climate solutions that meet the scale of the looming crisis…False solutions like a weak, Exxon-backed carbon tax bill are already circulating on Capitol Hill. A Green New Deal must have impacted communities at its center and leave companies like Exxon permanently on the bench.”
Throughout the day, the Sunrise Movement posted on social media about the progress being made in representatives’ offices as the group appealed to lawmakers and staffers.
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In Oakland, California, protesters wore face masks and braved the state’s smoky air quality brought on by the deadly Camp Fire, gathering outside Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-Calif.) office.
The day of action follows protests last week in the offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), expected to be elected House Speaker; and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who is the presumed incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Sunrise Movement has demanded the two powerful lawmakers lead their party in supporting the Green New Deal and the creation of a Select Committee focused on passing the initiative, as incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has proposed.
“We have the momentum to make a Green New Deal real, but we need a critical mass of Congresspeople to support the proposal,” the Sunrise Movement wrote on its website.
The Green New Deal would create 10 million jobs over 10 years in low- or no-carbon energy sectors like solar and wind power, building on the current trend of growing job creation in those fields—compared with the coal industry, which only employs 92,000 Americans today.
“America cannot continue this unsustainable course,” wrote Greg Carlock and Emily Mangan in their report on the Green New Deal for the progressive think tank Data for Progress. “The time is over for debating the reality of climate change, the threats to the environment or public health, and the lack of justice. The time is also over where we could accomplish our goals through incremental change.”
“It’s time to return to long-term thinking and planning and stop wasting time until we respond at the scale and urgency necessary to solve these problems. Aiming for anything less is insufficient,” they added.
The Sunrise Movement also urged Americans to call their elected officials to demand that they join the 11 representatives who have pledged support for the Select Committee for a Green New Deal so far, thanks to the group’s engagement.
As of Tuesday morning, Ocasio-Cortez had been joined by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), and Earl Bumenauer (D-Ore.) as well as incoming Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) in backing the deal.
“Let’s keep the pressure up,” the Sunrise Movement tweeted to young Illinois residents whose representative had indicated she supported the idea of the proposal. “Supporting the vision of a Green New Deal is a good first step but we need our Reps to take real action—words are not going to cut it.”
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