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Climate leftists and moderates have a radical new plan to defeat Trump: Work together

The period between April and December 2019 was a magical time for climate activists. The more than 20 Democratic candidates vying for the party’s nomination couldn’t stop trying to one-up each other. Candidates promised Green New Deals and millions of green jobs, initiatives to save the oceans and drilling bans on public lands. But to paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there’s a time to dream and a time to get down to business — and that’s exactly what climate advocates are doing now.

On Wednesday, a trio of major progressive political organizations — the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters — launched a new project called Climate Power 2020. The group’s advisory board is a hodgepodge of Democratic operatives and activists from across the climate spectrum. It includes party heavyweights like former Secretary of State John Kerry, Georgia politician Stacey Abrams, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff John Podesta. The advisory board also includes climate activists like Varshini Prakash, of the left-wing, youth-oriented group the Sunrise Movement, and Rhiana Gunn-Wright, an architect of the original Green New Deal plan. In short, it puts factions of the party that were just recently at odds with each other under the same umbrella.

“People who were on probably opposite sides of the primary fights are coming together because they understand there are two major goals of the climate movement right now: to defeat Donald Trump and to build momentum for the next president and Congress to pass major, bold climate policy,” Jamal Raad, a former staffer on Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s presidential campaign and an advisor to Climate Power 2020, told Grist.

The group doesn’t have a specific policy agenda, per se. Instead, it aims to accomplish the dual tasks of galvanizing the growing bloc of American voters who care about climate and furnishing Democrats with a workable offensive strategy on the issue of climate change.

That second agenda item is long overdue. The left has yet to figure out how to hit Republicans where it hurts on climate change, even though a widening swath of the GOP’s base is coming around to the idea that humans might have something to do with rising temperatures. That might be because Republicans are just better at messaging. Medicare for all? More like socialism for all. Gun control? An attack on the Constitution. Green New Deal? Hold onto your hamburgers.

Climate Power 2020 hopes to chisel out a better messaging strategy for Democrats ahead of the general election and appeal to climate-conscious Republicans. “[L]et’s combat myths and be aggressive and proactive about the need for climate action, because that’s the only way we’re going to be able to change the dynamics for 2021,” Subhan Cheema, a spokesperson for the group, told Grist in an email.

The group’s overarching goal is to show politicians that embracing climate policy is just good politics. “There are many who think that climate is an albatross or something for the Democrats,” Cheema said, “but our data shows the exact opposite, so let’s change that conversation.”

In order to actually accomplish that, the group plans to unleash a torrent of digital messaging in key swing states across the country, including Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Florida. Climate Power 2020 will use videos, social media campaigns, virtual town halls, and the like to drum up support for climate policies among persuadable voters, 62 percent of whom disapprove of Trump’s climate performance, according to the group’s in-house polling. The project hired Pete Buttigieg and Jay Inslee’s social media managers, as well as staffers from Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg’s campaigns, to help get the message out.

The message itself will highlight Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic to connect the dots between this crisis and the next one. “For both COVID-19 and the climate crisis, the anti-science policies from this administration are pushing our nation into crisis,” Podesta said in a statement, offering a sneak peek at the group’s forthcoming offensive strategy.

Raad says the new project is “in the same vein” as a similarly collaborative initiative underway at Joe Biden’s camp. Also on Wednesday, Biden and his former top rival Bernie Sanders unveiled six joint policy task forces that will make policy and personnel recommendations to Biden’s campaign. The climate task force will be co-chaired by Kerry and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and will also include Prakash of the Sunrise Movement. The idea is to find the common ground underlying the policy themes that fractured the party in the primary.

For those of you following along at home, it’s clear that we’ve entered a new phase of the 2020 election. Climate organizers and policy wonks are putting aside their differences to pool resources, messaging, and even personnel. Will their unifying efforts pay off in November? Time will tell.

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Climate leftists and moderates have a radical new plan to defeat Trump: Work together

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Revolution or steady progress? The Bernie-Biden climate split

Is it better to take on climate change with bold, revolutionary action, or compromise and tinkering?

In practice, it’s usually both. You can organize protests, and support the incremental art-of-the-possible tweaks that city and state officials work to pass. But in the contest to nominate the Democratic candidate for the White House, this question has been an either-or proposition. The race has narrowed to Senators Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, who represent opposite sides of this divide (or at least their supporters do). You’re bound to see this populist versus insider split when they face off in debate Sunday.

Sanders promises big, Green New Deal-style changes, counting on a popular uprising to transform political reality. Biden, though also a supporter of the Green New Deal, offers more modest changes within the existing political framework. Which is a better bet?

In the middle of our national flame-throwing fest about how to get things done, we could learn a lot from a little-noticed debate from last year that serves as the perfect proxy for this question. This wasn’t your typical chest-pounding debate, in fact it was sort of the opposite: A disagreement offering so much clarity that, no matter your position, it’s certain to shift your thinking at least a little bit.

It started in March last year, when Jerry Taylor, president of the Niskanen Center, pleaded in “An Open Letter to Green New Dealers” for a more Biden-esque approach. (Taylor is a former CATO Institute climate-change skeptic who changed his mind as he reviewed the evidence).

Leah Stokes, a professor of political science at the University of California at Santa Barbara (and a newly minted member of the Grist 50) fired back with an epic thread of tweets, making the Bernie-esque case that elected officials would need a social movement, a push from the people, to get anything done.

The two met in person last September and hashed it out at a conference organized by the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental think tank. You can watch the whole debate yourself.

But if you’re trying to limit your screen time, here are some of the highlights:

Taylor warned Stokes against fighting the impossible fight. He anticipated that a political window would open to pass climate legislation in 2021, which Democrats could miss if they become focused on the Green New Deal. There’s good reason to think something that big would fail: The Democratic Congress couldn’t even pass a resolution to support it in principle.

“In other words, if there was a Republican rapture experience, and they all disappeared and all we had were Democrats in the House, it still wouldn’t pass,” Taylor said.

It turned out that Stokes agreed with this: “A lot of your critiques, Jerry, really speak to the inside Congress game. And I think you are spot on on that.” But she argued that if there’s going to be any hope of passing legislation big enough to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, we should be looking outside of Washington for leadership. “If you look at the Earth Day movement, the founding of the EPA, the Clean Air Act, a lot of the landmark legislation that we still rely on today actually came out of a big public outpouring of people in the streets,” she said.

The problem with Stokes’s line of thinking, Taylor responded, is that climate action is polarized along political lines. Republicans such as climate-change denying Senator James Inhofe are the ones blocking legislation, he said, not the politicians influenced by climate strike-leader Greta Thunberg. “I don’t care how many people Greta puts in New York, it’s not changing James Inhofe’s mind, nor is it changing the votes of most Republicans.”

But the fact that activists, like those from the Sunrise Movement, are banging down the doors of Congress and holding strikes is creating space even for right wingers to offer their own version of policy, Stokes said. “If you are being asked by journalists all the time, like, “What’s your climate plan?” and the Republicans have no answer, they have to come up with something.”

There’s much more to be gleaned from the debate (you really should watch it, these two are so funny and smart) Witness Taylor ripping the GOP (“First of all, you have to speak their language: Russian”) and Stokes self-mockingly professing her passion for energy research (“I just want to spend a lot of money because I love the government, bad habit”).

It’s important to recognize that a lot has changed in the last 4 months. When I recently asked Taylor for an update, he pointed out that the Green New Deal is no longer sucking all the air out of the room, so the door is open for politicians to push for other measures in Congress. Democrats are working on bills like the Clean Future Act which, he said, is less a Green New Deal and more a copy of California’s state climate policy rejiggered for national scale.

Taylor also had words of praise for the activists he had once been so worried about. “What Sunrise has done,” he said, “is to elevate climate change to the near-top of the progressive agenda. And that counts for something. It may count for a lot, actually.”

Which is one of the key points Stokes was making in their debate. Taylor shifted his stance as he realized the facts had changed. As for Stokes, she noted that this primary season is a referendum on whether activists like the Sunrise Movement can lead a surge in new voters to support something like the Green New Deal. That hasn’t happened. “I think we are seeing the limits of that,” she conceded. Both Taylor and Stokes have moved closer to each other.

But Stokes stuck to her guns on one point: She sees a role for a social movement around climate change. “I think that climate change is the unity issue for the Democratic Party. And it’s a huge wedge issue: It has a lot of support among independents and young Republicans.”

A smart candidate would run on a climate-focused surge of spending, promising good union jobs and clean air, Stokes said: “That would be a winner in November.”


Revolution or steady progress? The Bernie-Biden climate split

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Guess who’s hiding again? Oregon Republicans hoping to squash a climate bill.

When it came time to vote on a bill to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the Oregon Senate on Monday, the Republican state senators’ chairs were empty. All of them except state Senator Tim Knopp of Bend had run away from Salem in an attempt to kill Oregon’s cap-and-trade bill. Again.

That left Democrats one senator short of the 20 they need to hold a vote, effectively putting the state government on pause. If signed into law, the legislation would make Oregon the second state in the country after California to adopt a cap-and-trade program. But that would require bringing Republicans back to Salem.

It’s the third walkout by Oregon Republicans in 10 months: the first for a business tax to raise money for Oregon schools, and the second for the vote on the cap-and-trade bill last June, which ended up lacking enough Democratic support to pass.

“Frankly, the entire world is watching,” Governor Kate Brown said in a news conference on Monday. “We need to get this done now. The votes are there to pass it straight up.”

Brown said she had “bent over backwards” to make compromises with the Senate Republicans. “They’re adults,” she said. “They need to come back to the building. They need to do the jobs they were elected to do. And instead, they’re taking a taxpayer-funded vacation.”

There are still two weeks left of the 35-day legislative session — and if one of the senators comes back, it’ll be enough to hold a vote.

The Senate Republicans have been threatening to walk out for weeks, arguing that Democrats were refusing to compromise with them on the cap-and-trade bill, which is opposed by some odd bedfellows. The logging industry argues that it would raise fuel costs, threatening a compromise the industry had made with the state’s environmental groups. Climate activists with Portland’s Sunrise Movement oppose the cap-and-trade policy, arguing that it isn’t strict enough.

Despite Oregon’s reputation as a green state, a fact sheet from the Northwest-based Climate Solutions shows that it’s falling behind on taking steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Though other states have passed policies to put a price on carbon, raised fuel standards, and committed to a timeline for running on totally clean electricity, Oregon is not among them. If the state government doesn’t do something soon, according to Climate Solutions, Oregon won’t be able to meet its own emissions goals for 2020.


Guess who’s hiding again? Oregon Republicans hoping to squash a climate bill.

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The Sunrise Movement has a plan to force presidential candidates to address climate change

The Sunrise Movement has had a big year: The climate activist group staged a protest in Nancy Pelosi’s office, helped spur a standoff between kids and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, and had a meeting with Beto O’Rourke that resulted in the candidate taking a pledge to eschew fossil fuel donations. Sunrise activists are known for coming in real hot and pushing the Green New Deal like their lives depend on it. The next piece of their climate plan is no different.

On Monday night, the group hosted a rally in Washington, D.C., featuring two of the patron saints of the current climate movement: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders. At that rally, between jabs at Joe Biden’s alleged “middle of the road” climate approach and stabs at the fossil fuel industry, Sunrise unveiled the next rung of a ladder that the group hopes will lead all the way to the White House.

Here’s how the group aims to center the 2020 presidential race around climate change, even though the main Republican contender has one of the most severe allergies to climate action doctors have ever seen.

Sunrise hopes to get Democratic candidates to accept their three key demands: Candidates must sign the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, make the Green New Deal a priority on day one in office, and call on the Democratic National Committee to host a climate debate. The group says it is in the process of mobilizing its network of thousands of volunteers across the nation to put pressure on the candidates to meet its demands.

Sunrise is also organizing a demonstration at the presidential debate in Detroit beginning on July 30, the deadline for candidates to accept the aforementioned three demands. The group says it will host a parallel event featuring speakers and stories from folks on the frontlines of the climate struggle.

Will 2020 candidates buckle under pressure? We’ll see. But it’s clear from the rapid-fire way Beto took the no fossil fuel money pledge that Sunrise’s tactics have left a serious impression on the presidential hopefuls: No one wants that awkward Feinstein moment.

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The Sunrise Movement has a plan to force presidential candidates to address climate change

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Los Angeles launched its own Green New Deal

This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Los Angeles just launched its very own Green New Deal, setting up the second-largest city in the country to have a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

“Politicians in Washington don’t have to look across the aisle in Congress to know what a Green New Deal is ― they can look across the country, to Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement Monday.

The city’s Green New Deal is an aggressive expansion of the Sustainable City pLAn the mayor created in 2015 to reflect more recent environmental studies that have shown the need for rapid and more radical solutions to combat climate change.

Garcetti was among the handful of mayors and governors to stick with the Paris climate agreement after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord. The mayor said his Green New Deal unveiled Monday is partially driven by his commitment to uphold the Paris Agreement.

The city’s Green New Deal would require all new city-owned buildings and major renovations to be “all-electric,” effective immediately. The plan also hopes to phase out styrofoam and to plant 90,000 trees by 2021, and to end plastic straws and single-use containers by 2028.

The initiative also includes Los Angeles recycling 100 percent of its wastewater by 2035 and building a zero-carbon electricity grid with the goal of reaching an 80 percent renewable energy supply by 2036.

By 2050, the city hopes to create 400,000 green jobs, have every building become emissions-free and halt sending trash to landfills. By then, the city’s plan is expected to save more than 1,600 lives, 660 trips to the hospital and $16 billion in avoided health care expenses every year.

“With flames on our hillsides and floods in our streets, cities cannot wait another moment to confront the climate crisis with everything we’ve got,” Garcetti said. “L.A. is leading the charge, with a clear vision for protecting the environment and making our economy work for everyone.”

Los Angeles joins New York City, the country’s largest and most economically influential city, in working to create more localized climate initiatives as progressive Democratic lawmakers in Washington push for a national Green New Deal, led by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) who introduced the resolution with Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in February. New York City passed a historic bill on April 18 capping climate-changing pollution from big buildings and requiring massive cuts to greenhouse gases.

The L.A. City Council passed a motion earlier requiring the city to draft a Green New Deal plan to match Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s resolution, which proposes increasing clean energy development, boosting electric vehicle manufacturing, and guaranteeing high-wage jobs fixing roads and rebuilding bridges.

The resolution in Congress is meant to be more of a guidance to eventually draft federal climate policy, but critics say that it’s a wish list of radical reforms. But the resolution does outline important steps for local leaders to take to combat climate change.

From 2017 to 2018, the number of cities pledging to use 100 percent renewable energy had doubled. More than a dozen states have passed or are considering setting 100 percent clean-electricity targets, according to a March report by consultant group EQ Research.

Some environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, applauded Garcetti for L.A.’s new initiative. But the city’s Sunrise Movement chapter said Monday that the plan will not do enough to combat climate change in time.

“Our generation’s future, as well as the future of Los Angeles and of the world, depends on us reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This is not a goal — it is a deadline,” the group said in a Medium post. “With Mayor Garcetti’s current plan for net-zero emissions by 2050, Los Angeles is on track to be 20 years too late. That is not a Green New Deal.”

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Los Angeles launched its own Green New Deal

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Beto’s first major 2020 policy proposal is a $5 trillion climate plan

Not to be outdone by Elizabeth Warren’s public lands bill or Cory Booker’s environmental justice proposal, Beto O’Rourke announced a $5 trillion climate plan on Monday. The presidential hopeful unveiled what he called “the most ambitious climate plan in the history of the United States” in a 40-second Twitter video, gesticulating wildly on a backdrop of luscious flora in Yosemite Valley, California.

Beto’s first major policy proposal of the election season has four components: slash pollution, invest $5 trillion, reach net-zero by 2050, and protect communities on the frontlines of climate change. Each of those categories includes sub-agenda items, like re-entering the Paris climate agreement, phasing out the mega-pollutants hydrofluorocarbons, clamping down on methane leaks, creating a federal “buy clean” program for cement and steel, and halting the sale of new fossil fuel leases on federal lands. O’Rourke aims to accomplish at least part of this agenda by way of executive order.

The meatiest portion of the former Texas congressman’s plan is the investment bit. He plans to propose a bill that would invest $1.5 trillion in innovation, infrastructure, and “people and communities,” which will mobilize $5 trillion invested in climate change over the span of a decade. The money will be parceled out for different initiatives: tax incentives to bring existing green technologies to scale, researching and developing new ways to bring down greenhouse gases, housing and transportation grants for front-line communities, and more.

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How will he pay for it? Good question. The massive investment will be funded through changes to America’s tax code. Corporations and the nation’s wealthiest citizens will be expected to pay their “fair share,” and O’Rourke said he would put an end to the billions fossil fuel companies receive in tax breaks. The candidate promised that this would be the very first bill he’d send to Congress as president.

“Given the gravity of the work that lies ahead, this fight will require much more than a president signing executive orders,” O’Rourke wrote in his plan. But it’s unclear how the Texan expects his bill to pass a Congress that will surely remain at least relatively divided in 2020, even if Democrats manage to flip the Republican-controlled Senate.

Other climate-oriented 2020 candidates, like Washington Governor Jay Inslee, have advocated for eliminating the legislative filibuster, in addition to taking action through executive order. (The filibuster, a long-standing Senate rule that requires a supermajority to pass legislation, is a major obstacle between Democrats and their sweeping proposals to accomplish everything from climate to health care to gun reform.) O’Rourke makes no mention of the rule in his climate plan*.

Despite O’Rourke’s promise to make climate change a day-one priority, some climate activists weren’t entirely convinced by the Democrat’s enthusiastic unveiling. “Beto claims to support the Green New Deal,” climate activist group the Sunrise Movement said in a statement, “but his plan is out of line with the timeline it lays out and the scale of action scientists say is necessary.” The group wants O’Rourke to move his 2050 timeline up to 2030, and take the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, a vow not to take donations over $200 from the fossil fuel industry. O’Rourke was removed from the pledge last year when an investigation found that he had taken money from fossil fuel executives during his Texas Senate race.

But the more established League of Conservation Voters commended the candidate for taking an ambitious stand on climate. This is “the kind of leadership we need from our next president,” the group wrote in a press release.

*Update: In March, Beto told reporters he’d “seriously consider” ditching the filibuster. 

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Beto’s first major 2020 policy proposal is a $5 trillion climate plan

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Meet the 16-year-old who went viral after asking Dianne Feinstein to support a Green New Deal

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Isha Clarke, a junior at MetWest High School in Oakland, California, was one of about a dozen young people who confronted Senator Dianne Feinstein in an attempt to convince her to endorse the Green New Deal resolution proposed earlier this month by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, and Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

The group went into the meeting with high hopes. They emerged disappointed but armed with footage that enraged many in the online environmental community who believe the U.S. needs to remake its economy to tackle climate change.

An edited video of the encounter in the foyer of the California Democrat’s San Francisco office went viral on Twitter over the weekend. A longer version ends with the Senator promising Clarke an internship, a reflection that Feinstein, who has been in office for three decades, knows “how to play the game,” according to The Atlantic’s Caitlin Flanagan.

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Clarke is a member of the climate group Youth vs. Apocalypse, a young people-led organization under the umbrella of the Bay Area’s chapter of the climate advocacy group 350.org. (Editor’s note: Grist board member Bill McKibben is 350.org’s founder.) She was invited to speak at a rally outside of Feinstein’s California office organized by the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activist organization, and attended by social justice outfit Bay Area Earth Guardians. She then joined the Earth Guardians and Sunrise activists when they met with Feinstein in her office.

Grist caught up with Clarke on Monday to discuss the online reaction to the Feinstein meeting, the Green New Deal resolution, why she’s fighting for climate justice at the tender age of 16, and of course, the internship the Senator promised her. (This conversation has been edited for clarity.)

Q. What was your impression of Senator Feinstein’s reaction to your request?

A. Our feeling about the whole interaction was really bad. At the end of the day, it’s not about her, it’s not about her tone or her reaction, it’s about her vote. We’re focusing on the fact that we went there to ask her to vote yes on the Green New Deal because that is the most important thing. We’re not really concerned with all the other stuff. It’s sort of becoming a distraction, you know?

Q. Did you expect her to say, “Yes I support the version of the Green New Deal” when you confronted her?

A. Yes. We really just wanted her to say that she was in solidarity with us — and that when it comes to her time to vote she would vote yes. I didn’t know that she necessarily opposed it, but I knew that she hadn’t made up her mind yet. I was there to get her to be on the side of “yes.”

Q. Senator Feinstein handed out copies of what she referred to as her “own Green New Deal” during that meeting. What did you think of it?

A. It’s simply not bold enough, and it doesn’t align with science. It doesn’t talk about fracking or offshore drilling, green jobs, or transportation. I also don’t think it takes a bold enough stance on economic or racial justice. It’s really just a watered-down version of the Green New Deal.

Feinstein made the argument that she didn’t think that AOC’s Green New Deal would pass, but quite frankly, neither will her resolution. If we’re going to be offering something to Congress it needs to be something bold. Honestly, right now, it’s more about getting our politicians to take a serious public stance on the Green New Deal and start building the momentum so that when [Democrats] do take back the Senate, and we have more of a political force, we can go right into the Green New Deal. We know that it might not pass but it’s about solidarity.

Q. Did you ask Feinstein for the internship or did she offer it?

A. After the whole interaction, we were leaving and I wanted to bring it back to the purpose [of the meeting], and thank her for her time, because I recognize that she’s a busy lady. She said, ‘Thank you and I really want you to have an internship here so you can understand what it’s like and understand all of the nuance and things like that.’ And then she started to walk away, and I wanted to hold her to that. I mean she just offered me an internship, so I was the one who asked her how I would do that. And the cameras had started walking away so they only heard me asking for the internship. But she had actually brought it up, and I was just following through.

Q. Has her office reached out since Friday?

A. They haven’t reached out. I have their business card. I’m still debating on whether or not I’m going to take [the internship]. It’s a complex situation. The reason why I would take the internship is because I think it’s an incredible opportunity. To be blunt, you have to learn how to play the game to change it. So I think it is a super cool way to be able to do that, and to learn the ins and outs. And I think that it’s also important to have my voice be in the room.

But I wouldn’t take it for a couple of reasons. No. 1: I don’t know what the internship actually entails. Sometimes high school students just do paperwork, and that’s not what I’m interested in. But mostly it’s because I don’t want my having an internship with her to turn into a justification for the whole situation. It’s already kind of being used like that. People are saying, ‘There was a happy ending, and Senator Feinstein offered a girl an internship and whoopdeedoo.’ And I don’t want me having a position there to be a way to cover up everything that just happened.

Q.You have spoken out about gun reform in the past. Now you’re talking about climate. As a politically-active student with limited time, how do you decide which issues to fight for?

A. I am a young woman of color, so I feel drawn to a lot of issues. Part of the reason why I’m working on the Green New Deal right now is because I think it is the most intersectional plan that I’ve seen ever, and it really excites me that I can work for everything I believe in in this one deal. It encompasses economic justice, climate justice, racial justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, all of that can be part of the Green New Deal.

You can’t separate climate justice from any other justices because they’re all-in-one. So when I’m fighting for climate justice, I’m fighting for everything else, too.


Meet the 16-year-old who went viral after asking Dianne Feinstein to support a Green New Deal

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These Products Will Turn You into a Zero-Waste Superstar

Let’s not beat around the organic bush. Living a zero-waste lifestyle takes effort. I mean, you’re basically thumbing your nose at convenience.

The thing is, convenience comes at a price, and it’s a lot more than the cost of your Starbucks grand? double-mocha with extra cream.?Convenience?means leaving a trail of single-use plastic in your wake.

None of us sets out to do harm. We’re just opting for easy in a world that’s too busy. Unfortunately, easy invariably comes with consequences. Imagine knowing your straw was responsible for?this:

5 Zero-Waste?Products

Adopting a zero-waste lifestyle might take some effort, but it’s not hard. If everyone carried these five items with them, we’d stem the tide of trash that we’re washing into our rivers and?oceans.

1.?Collapsible Coffee Cup

Given the amount of coffee and tea we indulge in on a daily basis, keeping a cup in your bag is a no brainer. The problem is, most reusable cups are unwieldy, especially if you’re a grand? double-mocha kind of person (and who isn’t?).

The solution: Get a collapsible coffee mug. They’re leak-proof and much easier to stow than their bulky, full-sized cousins. How ingenious!

2.?Bamboo Straw

Biodegradable straws are de rigueur in a lot of hippie and health-conscious establishments, but most mainstream outlets are still all about the bottom line. That approach doesn’t allow for anything other single-use plastic straws.

The solution: Invest in some reusable straws. (One for you and the rest for your envious table mates.) You get all different types (stainless steel, silicon, glass, etc.), but I like bamboo, because it’s best for the environment.

3.?Filtered Water Bottle

More and more companies are turning plastic bottles into jackets, but that’s not a good enough reason to grab a bottle of Evian with your lunch. Plastic water bottle pollution is worse than you think, with only one in every six bottles being recycled (or downcycled, really). And that’s just the tip of a two million-ton iceberg.

The solution: A filtered water bottle is the perfect workaround. You get to be a better human and have filtered water on tap. There are plenty to choose from, so it’s up to your budget and personal taste.

4.?On-the-Go Cutlery Set

More and more restaurants and eateries are joining the sustainability movement. It’s gratifying to see them providing wooden utensils rather than the usual plastic cutlery we’re accustomed to. But, like with straws, the movement is still in its infancy.

The solution: Buy an on-the-go cutlery set. It’s worth spending the money on a quality kit, as a poorly made knife or fork that doesn’t do the job is enough to ruin a good lunch.

5.?Lunch Box/Food Container

Making your own food from scratch is better for your health, your budget and your zero-waste efforts. But let’s face it: not everyone has the time or the inclination to spend the weekend meal prepping.

Maybe going to your favorite deli for lunch is how you indulge in ‘me time.’ Perhaps enjoying a meal out with friends and family is your preferred way to socialize. I get it.

The solution: Get a lunch box/food container and ask the deli to serve your meal in there instead of their plastic takeout containers. And when you go out for dinner, guess where your leftovers go?

Using these five items will drastically reduce the amount of trash you create on a daily basis. If this is all you did, you’d make a significant difference to the environment. You could stop there and still feel really good about your zero-waste efforts.

If you want?take your mission?next level, though, you could switch up your beauty routine, shop at zero-waste stores and even try your hand at a little apartment composting.

The next thing you know you’ll have been living a zero-waste for a full year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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These Products Will Turn You into a Zero-Waste Superstar

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Meet the Press just modeled what it looks like to take climate change seriously

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On Sunday morning, NBC’s Meet the Press did what no other weekend news program had ever done before: They discussed climate change for a full hour.

Host Chuck Todd led off the hour with what amounted to a bold line in the sand: Climate denial is no longer welcome on our airwaves. It’s a statement that hopefully sets the tone for media coverage as a new year begins and 2020 Presidential campaigns gets underway. It was a glimpse of what it would look like if we took climate change seriously.

Although an episode like this was a long-time coming and the debate itself was a little underwhelming (and maybe the show’s forward-looking ban should have come with an apology for past sins), it was still a watershed moment for the media when most shows have long-ignored the most important issue facing humanity in our collective history. And it was refreshing to see a real-life climate scientist speaking freely about the urgency of our present moment and unimpeded by stale talking points.

If you break down the 60-minute episode, solutions-focused politicians took up most of the time. The show focused on long interviews with outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown and ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — past and (maybe) future presidential candidates who have devoted large portions of their careers to addressing climate change head-on. The only member of Congress to appear on the program was Republican Carlos Curbelo of Florida, who will give up his Congressional seat in three days.

Notably absent from the conversation were direct voices from the current generation of climate leaders — Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who helped change the national conversation on climate change by advocating for a Green New Deal during the last half of 2018, and young Sunrise Movement activists who, in a tweet, claimed partial credit for the show’s topical focus. As a result, the episode barely mentioned bold science-based policies to rapidly decarbonize the global economy.

Still, since talking about climate change is the most important thing any of us can do about it, the show was significant. It amounted to a call-to-action for the media: Debates over the science of climate change are no longer welcome. It’s high time to focus on solutions. We also need to be thinking about the kinds of climate conversations we should be hearing in the next election cycle.

The New York Times’ David Leonhardt made the claim on Sunday that climate change was the biggest story of 2018. If that’s true, then this Meet the Press episode was a signal to candidates like Elizabeth Warren, who have yet to endorse officially the Green New Deal, to pay even closer attention to the issue.

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Meet the Press just modeled what it looks like to take climate change seriously

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This is what a government shutdown over climate change would look like

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What issues are “worth” shutting down the government for? That, annoyingly, is the question America finds itself tackling again and again in recent years.

Our president was elected on a controversial platform of building a border wall to limit immigration. Now, he says he’s willing to shut down the government within days of Christmas in order to secure billions of dollars in funding for its construction.

On Sunday morning, Trump’s advisor, Stephen Miller, said the president would do “whatever is necessary” in order to build the wall — despite the fact that the general public feels that a government shutdown is pretty drastic. Still, one seems nearly inevitable and would begin this Friday — senators and representatives have already left for their home districts without a plan to avert it.

This seems as good a time as any to offer an important reminder: Climate change is an existential threat to human civilization and without radical action, we’re committing to irreversible destruction of the biosphere — the evolutionary equivalent of a meteor strike.

Which makes me wonder: What would it take for the Democrats to shut down the government — to do whatever is necessary — over climate change?

The first step would be making climate change a core and unrelenting talking point of the party’s platform — and then winning elections specifically with a populist mandate to take immediate, large-scale action on it.

We already have a glimpse of what that world looks like: Recently elected Justice Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and 2016 Grist 50 member Ayanna Pressley spoke incessantly about climate change in the runup to their midterm campaigns, rightly framing it as an intersectional justice issue.

The policy platform that has emerged from those electoral wins — the Green New Deal — has already pushed the larger Democratic Party to quickly consider positions that would have been deemed outright radical just a few months ago, like a nationwide 100 percent renewable energy mandate by 2030 and a green jobs guarantee. This kind of rapid shift in dialogue is consistent with the “moon shot” approach that scientists say is necessary to prevent catastrophic warming.

And those ideas have a lot of support: A recent New York Times poll shows that 98 percent of loyal Democrats and 66 percent of loyal Republicans would back a green jobs program.

Highly visible groups of young people, led by the Sunrise Movement, have already made clear that they’re not going to go easy on Democratic leadership if it ignores climate change. If the group’s protests escalate — if its members continue speaking with clear, moral language inspired by past civil rights struggles — there could suddenly be a hint in the air that transformative policy change could be imminent, also.

There are already signs that mainstream Democrats are listening. Likely incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi promised dialogue with Sunrise protesters, though she’s yet to agree to the protesters’ request to direct a special committee explicitly to develop a Green New Deal plan.

On the Senate side, where the rules ensure that the Democrats — still in the minority — could block the president’s infrastructure plans, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has already made clear that a Green New Deal is the only way forward. (It remains to be seen how insistent he’s going to be on that point.) And just this past Friday, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey became the second likely Democratic presidential contender (along with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders) to endorse the idea of the sweeping program. “We must take bold action on climate change & create a green economy that benefits all Americans,” he tweeted.

In the months ahead, it’s not inconceivable that a few dozen Democrats could form a progressive bloc and effectively commandeer the House, refusing to pass legislation on anything until a Green New Deal is signed into law. That, of course, would require a massive push from voters at the same time. It would need to be obvious to Democrats that they’d risk losing elections by not supporting it.

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This is what a government shutdown over climate change would look like

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