Young climate activists press Dems for a Green New Deal

Activists occupy the office of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
Environmental activists occupy the office of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, the speaker-designate for the new Congress, as they try to pressure Democratic support for a sweeping agenda to fight climate change.
J. Scott Applewhite | AP

Some 1,000 young climate activists held rallies at House Democrats' offices on Monday in hopes of persuading them to back a Green New Deal.

The activists want Democrats to pledge support for a new select committee for the plan before holiday recess. The committee would draft sweeping new legislation for implementing the Green New Deal, which includes making U.S. economy carbon-neutral and removing greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere and oceans.

"The latest science from the UN has told us that we have 12 years, we have until 2030, to make sweeping changes to our energy systems to prevent catastrophic climate change that will really ruin our planet and maybe the end of civilization as we know it," said Marian Michaels, a Minnesota regional lead for the Sunrise Movement, a political group pushing the plan.

She and five other Minnesotans were in Washington with the Sunrise Movement to meet with legislators about the Green New Deal. The Sunrise Movement is a new national political advocacy group, and the Green New Deal is its primary issue. Most of its members are young, in their early- or mid-20s.

Michaels said there's a growing number of Democrats backing the Green New Deal, the latest version of which originated with New York incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. However, the sole supporter from Minnesota's delegation is incoming Rep. Ilhan Omar.

More moderate Democrats — including Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — have suggested simply reviving an old select committee on climate change.

But Michaels said the old committee wouldn't go far enough because it would likely lack power to draft legislation or propose bills.

The climate change select committee's purpose was to investigate climate change, make reports and inform the public. Michaels said it's now time to address climate change.

"It's time to move on. It's 2018," she said. "Climate change is a huge crisis right now and we have to move on from reporting to action."

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