Building on the grassroots momentum that has thrust the Green New Deal onto a national stage, a coalition of progressive groups on Monday launched a week of action to demand climate leadership from federal lawmakers, calling for a plan to fully phase out fossil fuels and rapidly reform industries that produce massive amounts of planet-warming emissions while also promoting economic justice.
“It’s time for all progressive lawmakers to take real climate action and support a massive federal investment to bring health, safety, and justice to people and the planet.”
—May Boeve, 350.org
“To take action on climate change at the scale of the crisis, we need a Green New Deal,” declared May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. “It’s time for all progressive lawmakers to take real climate action and support a massive federal investment to bring health, safety, and justice to people and the planet.”
The Green New Deal desired by climate campaigners and a growing cohort of Democrats in Congress, led by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), would pair sweeping policies to cut emissions, including a transition to 100 percent renewable energy, with programs to create jobs.
Janet Redman, climate and energy director at Greenpeace USA, urged legislators to “cement a turning point for our nation by ensuring that policies addressing the climate crisis also advance racial, economic, and gender equity while phasing out polluting fossil fuels starting with the communities already experiencing coal, oil, and gas pollution.”
The week of action—which will feature hundreds of events throughout the country—comes amid reports that Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) are working on a legislative proposal that could be ready as soon as mid-week. Specifically, the week of action organizers want a deal that will:
- Halt all new fossil fuel extraction, infrastructure and subsidies, and transitions power generation to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 or sooner;
- Rapidly decarbonize the agriculture and transportation sectors, and expand access to public transportation;
- Ensure a fair and just transition, led by impacted workers and communities, including low-income and communities of color, without relying on corporate schemes or market-based mechanisms;
- Uphold indigenous rights; and
- Pass a national jobs guarantee, creating good jobs with collective bargaining and family-sustaining wages.
As Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, put it: “We have no time to lose in the fight to avoid irrevocable climate chaos. We need to ensure that the Green New Deal is sufficiently aggressive to meet the challenge.”
“As Western wildfires rage and the Midwest freezes, Americans are thirsty for climate action,” said Climate Hawks Vote president RL Miller, pointing out that some new members of Congress were elected in November partly because of their bold positions on climate policy.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, continues to downplay or ignore the dangers of the human-induced climate crisis and pursue a deregulatory agenda that critics charge serves polluting industries at the expense of the public and the planet.
“We have no time to lose in the fight to avoid irrevocable climate chaos. We need to ensure that the Green New Deal is sufficiently aggressive to meet the challenge.”
—Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch
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Under President Donald Trump’s watch, noted Liz Butler from Friends of the Earth, “carbon emissions have spiraled out of control, communities are suffering through devastating wildfires, hurricanes, and droughts, and Indigenous people are continuously denied their ancestral lands and rights.”
Thanks to the administration’s ongoing support for fossil fuels, Oil Change International’s David Turnbull warned that “our country is on the cusp of one of the largest bursts in dangerous oil and gas drilling ever seen, at precisely the time that we need to be moving full steam ahead in the opposite direction.”
As Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, concluded, “With an unhinged climate denier in the White House, it’s on Congress to chart a path away from climate suicide.”
Some members of Congress seem to be up for that challenge. While green groups kicked off actions on Monday—targeting Democratic leaders in the U.S. House—Axios reported that Ocasio-Cortez is circulating a “dear colleague” letter to solicit more co-sponsors for the measure, which calls for a “national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization at a scale not seen since World War II.”
Current co-sponsors, according to the outlet, include Democratic Reps. Brendan Boyle (Penn.), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Joe Neguse (Colo.), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.).