During assembly on Friday, February 28, sophomore Eva Kappas and two undergraduate students from Wash U spoke about the Green New Deal (GND) and the Sunrise Movement. Grace Tedder, a senior at Wash U, co-founded the St. Louis Sunrise hub and Brianna Chandler, a freshman at Wash U, helped organize the climate strike in St. Louis last fall and has joined Sunrise. Their presentation focused on how Sunrise supports the GND. Here are excerpts from their remarks.
"Sunrise is a youth-led movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. The organization works to make climate change an urgent priority across America, to end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people. ... We have the solutions necessary to make the transition from a fossil-fuel dependent world to a world fueled by renewable energy. What we need is the mass mobilization of these assets to bring sustainability, and equality, to every corner of the country. This is where the Green New Deal comes in. ... The Green New Deal is a package of legislation that addresses climate change and economic inequality. ...
Transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy doesn't mean going back to the Stone Age. You don’t have to give up flying or eating hamburgers. Rather, these areas include using more wind and solar energy, reducing agricultural pollution, making sure buildings have energy-efficient utilities, and managing the adverse health effects of climate change. ... The other part of the GND is to promote justice and prevent future oppression of vulnerable communities, such as low-income groups and racial minorities, who are hit the first and the hardest by the effects of climate change. These are the people living by coal-fired power plants, living in areas with high-level air quality violations. Low-income families will feel the economic losses of climate change with the loss of a home from tornadoes, or fire, or flooding, and don’t have enough money to easily pick up and move when their town is flooded. We can’t expect them to pay for the green transition when they are already paying with the quality of their livelihood. ... Climate change is far from the only emergency we’re dealing with. And we can’t isolate it from the other major problems in our society Vulnerable communities have been through centuries of oppression, exclusion and environmental injustice. They’re the Americans who have done the least to cause global warming — and yet they’re often hit first and worst by climate chaos. ...
Quoting 17-year-old Naina Agragawl-Hardan, 'The role of Sunrise’s high school [and middle school] support team nationally is to advocate for the overarching governing agenda of a Green New Deal, but there are a bunch of different ways that can play out on the ground. Our job is not to tell people specific national policies they need to advocate for, but to empower people and encourage people to push for policies that might be going through their city council or their state legislature, whatever it might be, that are in line with the Green New Deal framework and that are going to work for their communities.' ...
Sunrise hubs across the nation try to get their representatives to take the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge in addition to signing on to the GND. We do this by registering people to vote to elect GND champions, calling our representatives, meeting with them, sometimes doing office sit-ins, and organizing climate stikes. And it’s working! The Green New Deal now has 98 cosponsors as well as widespread popularity among the public."
Tedder and Chandler closed by sharing specific ways JBS students can help if they want to get involved:
- Vote! There will be registration for new voters at the upcoming Earth Day climate strike
- Call or e-mail your representative to pledge not to take fossil fuel money and to sign onto the Green New Deal
- Come to the April Earth Day climate strike
- Join the Sunrise STL hub to do all of this with other young people passionate about the environment!