Wednesday January 29, 2020

US to ‘Amplify’ Green New Deal Movement ahead of US Election

The WGF said it is one of the few funders to publicly back groups advocating for the Green New Deal and is working to rally others to support the youth-led activism that is putting lawmakers on notice globally

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FILE - U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) hold a news conference for their proposed Green New Deal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 7, 2019. VOA

Young activists pressuring U.S. lawmakers to aggressively tackle climate change and reject fossil fuel company donations got their first major financial boost Monday from a foundation that wants to “amplify” the Green New Deal movement ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The Wallace Global Fund, a nonprofit that supports social movements, has given the Sunrise Movement $250,000 and committed $750,000 in grants in 2019 to Sunrise partner groups to advance the goals of the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution introduced this year by progressive Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey that has reignited the U.S. debate around climate change.

The Sunrise Movement, formed in 2017, has been at the forefront of the Green New Deal movement, which calls for a 10-year, government-driven mobilization to decarbonize the economy through investments in clean energy, buildings and transportation, as well as job-retraining and social and economic justice programs.

green new deal
FILE – Demonstrators with the group Sunrise Movement gather after interrupting a resolutions meeting at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Summer Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, Aug. 23, 2018. VOA

It has become a political target of President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress who call the plan socialist and radical. “They have a smart strategy around building power with the audacity of their vision,” said Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the fund. “Critics belittle them and question their authenticity but they are brave and are doubling down.”

The WGF said it is one of the few funders to publicly back groups advocating for the Green New Deal and is working to rally others to support the youth-led activism that is putting lawmakers on notice globally.

While the Sunrise Movement has been central in putting the Green New Deal in the national spotlight, young people in Europe have staged school strikes and launched civil disobedience campaigns to demand action on climate change.

green new deal
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., hold a news conference for their proposed “Green New Deal” at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 7, 2019. The Republican-led Senate rejected the plan March 26, 2019.
VOA

Dorsey said the Green New Deal follows in the footsteps of the New Deal, a sweeping public works and financial reform program created by President Franklin Roosevelt to lift the United States out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Wallace Global Fund namesake Henry Wallace was Roosevelt’s vice president.

Growing the Sunrise Movement

The Sunrise Movement first made waves after the 2018 midterm elections by holding a sit-in with Ocasio-Cortez outside the office of incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, demanding that Congress adopt a Green New Deal. Since then its activists have been a presence on the presidential campaign trail. “A large part of our strategy is to make sure that every candidate hears us wherever they go,” said Varshini Prakash, president of the Sunrise Movement.

More than half of the crowded field of Democratic contenders, including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Jay Inslee and Pete Buttigieg said they back the resolution.

green new deal
While the Sunrise Movement has been central in putting the Green New Deal in the national spotlight, young people in Europe have staged school strikes and launched civil disobedience campaigns to demand action on climate change. Wikimedia

Prakash said the group will use the funds to train activists around the country and partner with environmental justice, Native American and other groups.

ALSO READ: Giving Local Communities Responsibility to Manage Forests Could Help Ease Poverty, Deforestation

She said the group has already been effective in pressuring candidates to change their positions. Last week former Texas congressman O’Rourke announced he will no longer accept donations from fossil fuel companies or executives after months of pressure from Sunrise activists.

The group’s next target is likely to be former Vice President Joe Biden, who entered the presidential race in late April. Prakash said Biden has only mentioned Obama-era measures like entering the Paris Climate Agreement as climate change solutions. “We are ready and willing to call out the insufficiency of policies like that,” she said. “We deserve a leader who understands the urgency of climate change.” (VOA)

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Amazon Employees Risk Their Jobs by Criticizing Amazon’s Record on Climate Change

Workers Criticize Amazon on Climate Despite Risk to Jobs

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Amazon employees
Employees walk through a lobby at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle. VOA

Hundreds of employees are openly criticizing Amazon’s record on climate change despite what they say is a company policy that puts their jobs at risk for speaking out.

On Sunday, more than 300 employees of the online retail giant signed their names and job titles to statements on blog post on Medium. The online protest was organized by a group called Amazon Employees For Climate Justice, an advocacy group founded by Amazon workers that earlier this month said the company had sent letters to its members threatening to fire them if they continued to speak to the press.

“It’s our moral responsibility to speak up, and the changes to the communications policy are censoring us from exercising that responsibility,” said Sarah Tracy, a software development engineer at Amazon, in a statement.

Amazon employees at the company logistics centre in Boves
The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France. VOA

Amazon said that its policy on external communications is not new and is in keeping with other large companies. It said the policy applies to all Amazon employees and is not directed at any specific group.

“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside the company that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” according to a spokesperson from the company.

Amazon, which relies on fossil fuels to power the planes, trucks and vans that ship packages all over the world, has an enormous carbon footprint. And its workers have been vocal in criticizing some of the company’s practices.

Also Read- Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

Last year, more than 8,000 staffers signed an open letter to CEO and founder Jeff Bezos demanding that it cut its carbon emissions, end its use of fossil fuels and stop its work with oil companies that use Amazon’s technology to locate fossil fuel deposits.

The company said in a statement that it is passionate about climate change issues and has already pledged to become net zero carbon by 2040 and use 100% renewable energy by 2030. (VOA)