By MICHAEL BASTASCH
- Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez headlined a Green New Deal rally at Howard University.
- 2020 hopeful Bernie Sanders warned of “irreparable harm done to our planet” if nothing is immediately done to fight global warming.
- Ocasio-Cortez also took a veiled shot at former Vice President Joe Biden’s stance on global warming.
Democratic lawmakers, including one presidential candidate, rallied with environmental activists in Washington, D.C., Monday night calling on Congress to pass the Green New Deal.
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Green New Deal’s main champion, headlined the rally at Howard University. The rally was the final stop in a nationwide tour by environmentalists promoting the Green New Deal.
“They call it socialism,” Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, who introduced the Senate version of the Green New Deal, told environmentalists gathered at Howard University. “But what about the oil and gas industry tax breaks that are a permanent part of the tax code, some of which have been on the books for over 100 years?”
“But Republicans only call it socialism when we try to help the things we like. So here’s what I say for wind and solar and all-electric vehicles and clean energy: give us some of that socialism that the oil and gas industry has had for a century,” Markey said.
Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s running for president, said there will be “irreparable harm done to our planet” if countries don’t move away from fossil fuels “within the next few years.”
The rally was put on by the Sunrise Movement, an environmental group largely made up of young people who support the Green New Deal. The group stormed Capitol Hill in recent months to demand lawmakers aggressively fight global warming.
However, the Sunrise Movement’s rally also seemed to heavily focus on topics seemingly unrelated to global warming, like race, “privilege” and government jobs and welfare programs. (RELATED: Ocasio-Cortez Suggests Top Democratic Presidential Candidates Are As Dumb As Sea Sponges)
Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash held a moment of silence for Native Americans, who she called the “original keepers of this land.” She wanted activists to remember “this land was taken” and that “it is not ours,” she said.
“How many people in here understand what it truly means to say that black lives matter?” said Kari Fulton an “environmental justice” organizer with Empower DC. “You cannot build a future, you cannot change the world, in your soft circle. Walk out of your tribe.”
“Climate justice means I want to see a world where children are not separated from their families,” Fulton said at the rally.
Fulton also said “climate justice” means thinking about how people exploit their “privilege” before she turned around to take a selfie on stage because she’d never seen a “cramped in auditorium with this many white people in it.”
The Green New Deal resolution, introduced by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey in February, also focuses heavily on economic and racial “justice.” Indeed, Ocasio-Cortez herself said the Green New Deal is “really about providing justice for communities and just transitions for communities.”
Sanders called for a “just transition” for fossil fuel industry workers, saying they “aren’t our enemies.” The Green New Deal calls for universal health care, jobs guarantees and “repairing historic oppression.”
Activists Jeremiah Lowery called for “full employment” and “no fossil fuel production,” arguing there could be no “middle ground” when it comes to fighting global warming. Ocasio-Cortez echoed that sentiment, taking a veiled shot at former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try to come back today and say we need a middle of the road approach to save our lives,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the rally.
Biden’s 2020 campaign has been hit with backlash from environmentalists over reports it would seek a “middle ground” on global warming, essentially continuing President Barack Obama’s legacy on the issue.
According to Ocasio-Cortez, a middle ground policy on global warming is insufficient to “save our lives.” The Sunrise Movement called the middle ground approach a “death sentence to our generation.”