Monday May 27, 2019

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.

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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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Thousands of Students Worldwide Protest Lack of Action Against Climate Change

Organizers expect that more than a million young people in at least 120 counties will participate in protests

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Young environmental activists hold banners as they demonstrate, calling for action on climate change during the "Fridays for Future" school strike, in Istanbul, Turkey, May 24, 2019. VOA

Thousands of school students in Australia and New Zealand took to the streets Friday, initiating an international day of protests against the lack of action against climate change.

Organizers expect that more than a million young people in at least 120 counties will participate in protests.

Demonstrators are demanding that politicians and business leaders take swift measures to slow global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions, which are damaging planet Earth.

climate change
Youths hold a banner as they demonstrate calling for action on climate change during the “Fridays for Future” school strike, on Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2019. VOA

The school protesters in Frankfurt, Germany, marched on the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) to demand it stop financing the fossil fuel industry.

According to environmental scientists, greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels have caused droughts and heatwaves, the melting of glaciers, rising sea levels and devastating floods.

ALSO READ: Climate Change Affects Developing Countries the Most: UN

The worldwide protests are inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist who began a single-handed climate protest outside the Swedish parliament in August. Since then, her school strike movement “Fridays for Future” has grown exponentially.

Global carbon emissions reached a record high last year, despite warnings from the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October that gas emissions must be curbed over the next 12 years to stabilize the climate. (VOA)