A Hopeful Climate Change Initiative: a Green New Deal

On December 10, 2018, thousands of people met with key U.S. legislators to ask and demand that they support the creation of a committee that would draft legislation for the Green New Deal (a large U.S. governmental response to climate change, economic inequality, and racism). It was the Sunrise Movement’s largest action so far. A hundred and thirty-eight of us sat in the U.S. Capitol buildings. I had invited a bunch of friends to come with me because I knew it would be inspiring.

I’ve been a member of the Sunrise Boston (Massachusetts, USA) Hub since September 2017, when hurricanes Irma and Maria were devastating the Caribbean and there were massive floods in South Asia. I had struggled to find a group to engage with—classism, adult distresses, and USer distresses had kept me from staying with a couple of the groups I’d checked out. It was great to be part of a youth-led national and local group and a relief to be doing something about the climate. 

Young adults are the bulk of the leadership and membership of the Sunrise Movement. There are also some young people and some people ages thirty to forty. We talk about building an “army” of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. I love the intent to be disciplined, follow leadership, take courageous leadership, and work in unison. Some smart pieces of the culture and strategy of Sunrise are singing, having space to talk about why we are in this fight and what matters to us personally, and acknowledging the Indigenous people of the land that we are meeting on. As a forty-year-old, I’m on the older edge and keep thinking about how to back [support] younger people.

We know that in the United States we have been lied to by the fossil fuel industry about the severity and urgency of the climate crisis. Part of the work of Sunrise is telling the stories that expose the damage that has already been done. People get to tell their stories and discharge about how climate change is affecting their homes, families, and communities. The stories are powerful and stick with the people who are listening. Hearing stories from people I care about has made me aware that I have been numb and uninformed, and I don’t want to continue being oblivious and inactive.

I organized two visits to my congressional representative that led him to voice public support for the Green New Deal. Without those visits, gaining his support would have been unlikely. (I think he was the forty-third U.S. Representative to voice support.) Doing that was a contradiction to my early recordings of powerlessness. It is much easier to discharge my feelings about the climate and feeling small and alone when I’m actively engaged. I definitely have more access to discharge after a small success or even a disappointment than I have when I’m not as active.

We knew it was a long shot [very unlikely] that we would get the committee that we wanted. We did manage to push the climate committee that was created in a number of good directions. We will keep pushing to make the climate and the Green New Deal a political priority in 2019 and 2020.

Jess Liborio

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for USA political issues


Last modified: 2019-05-10 19:15:36+00