As Democratic Leadership Moves to Kill the Green New Deal, Cries of Betrayal

“There’s a big part of the Democratic Party that’s basically indifferent about the end of human civilization but paying it some lip service.”

Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

Protesters seen holding placards during the Sunrise Movement protest inside the office of US Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to advocate that Democrats support the Green New Deal, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In response to reports on Thurs­day that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship is tak­ing steps to revive a defunct cli­mate change pan­el, pro­gres­sive groups and youth cli­mate lead­ers warned that the move is an attempt by House Minor­i­ty Leader Nan­cy Pelosi (D‑Calif.) and oth­ers to kill the surg­ing demand for a Green New Deal Select Com­mit­tee and called it a fail­ure to fight for solu­tions on the scale we need” to achieve a liv­able future.”

"Achieving the goals outlined in the resolution for a Select Committee on a Green New Deal are the bare minimum we need to preserve life as we know it for our generation—anything less from our political leaders is a betrayal of young people around the world."

With­out a man­date to cre­ate a plan and a require­ment that its mem­bers don’t take fos­sil fuel mon­ey, we are deeply con­cerned that this com­mit­tee will be just anoth­er of the many com­mit­tees we’ve seen fail­ing our gen­er­a­tion our entire lives,” Sun­rise Move­ment co-founder Varshi­ni Prakash declared after news broke that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship chose Rep. Kathy Cas­tor (D‑Fla.) to lead the revived cli­mate committee.

As the Huff­in­g­ton Post report­ed, Green New Deal pro­po­nents were blind­sided by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship’s appoint­ment of Cas­tor, and it is unclear whether Rep.-elect Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez (D‑N.Y.) — who led the push for a Green New Deal Select Com­mit­tee — will even get a seat on the cli­mate panel.

The Sun­rise Move­ment said it has reached out to House Minor­i­ty Leader Nan­cy Pelosi’s (D‑Calif.) office for an expla­na­tion and vowed to keep fight­ing for a Green New Deal as if the plan­et depends on it — because it does.

Achiev­ing the goals out­lined in the res­o­lu­tion for a Select Com­mit­tee on a Green New Deal are the bare min­i­mum we need to pre­serve life as we know it for our gen­er­a­tion — any­thing less from our polit­i­cal lead­ers is a betray­al of young peo­ple around the world,” the Sun­rise Move­ment declared.

Fail­ing to advo­cate for the solu­tions on the scale we need to give our gen­er­a­tion a liv­able future shows a deep lack of moral clar­i­ty and courage from our Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship,” the group con­clud­ed on Twitter.

In an inter­view with E&E News—which first report­ed that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship chose Cas­tor to head the revived pan­el — the Flori­da con­gress­woman quick­ly got off to an inaus­pi­cious start.

Echo­ing a talk­ing point deployed by the likes of the Koch broth­ers and Exxon­Mo­bil, Cas­tor sug­gest­ed that it would be a vio­la­tion of free speech to bar mem­bers who have accept­ed fos­sil fuel dona­tions from serv­ing on the cli­mate committee.

I don’t think you can do that under the First Amend­ment, real­ly,” Cas­tor said.

Though she lat­er con­ced­ed in an inter­view with the Huff­in­g­ton Post that her com­ment was inart­ful,” the remark sparked fury from pro­gres­sives, who viewed it as anoth­er sign that much of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty and its lead­er­ship is woe­ful­ly unpre­pared to take the ambi­tious steps sci­ence says are nec­es­sary to con­front the cli­mate crisis.

Load­ing a cli­mate com­mit­tee with fos­sil fuel mon­ey is akin to let­ting fox­es in the hen­house,” Oca­sio-Cortez wrote on Twit­ter. We should­n’t be afraid to lead.”

I hon­est­ly thought the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty lead­ers would see this oppor­tu­ni­ty,” Waleed Shahid, com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor for Jus­tice Democ­rats, added in a state­ment. It’s infu­ri­at­ing to see a fel­low Demo­c­rat basi­cal­ly par­rot the talk­ing points of the Koch Broth­ers when it comes to the very com­mon-sense idea that any politi­cian who accepts dona­tions from the fos­sil-fuel cor­po­ra­tions should not be allowed to leg­is­late on cli­mate change.”

Youth cli­mate lead­ers in recent months have been urgent­ly orga­niz­ing, mobi­liz­ing, and get­ting arrest­ed in droves to demand a bold and com­pre­hen­sive action plan to save the plan­et, but crit­ics said the Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship’s move to revive an old cli­mate pan­el is effec­tive­ly a sig­nal to the bur­geon­ing grass­roots move­ment to buzz off.

Though the spe­cif­ic scope and man­date of the revived cli­mate com­mit­tee are not yet known, Cas­tor told E&E News that while pro­po­nents of a Green New Deal have some ter­rif­ic ideas,” the ambi­tious pro­pos­al sup­port­ed by 81 per­cent of Amer­i­cans will not be the sole focus” of the panel.

Jus­tice Democ­rats respond­ed with alarm to Cas­tor’s com­ment, writ­ing on Twit­ter, Your sole focus won’t be to pro­pose solu­tions that match the urgency and scale rec­om­mend­ed by the U.N.‘s IPCC cli­mate report?”

As Com­mon Dreams report­ed, the Inter­gov­ern­men­tal Pan­el on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) warned that car­bon emis­sions must be cut in half by 2030 to avoid plan­e­tary catastrophe.

Though the Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship’s move to revive a House cli­mate change com­mit­tee that was shut down by Repub­li­cans in 2011 was viewed as a sig­nif­i­cant blow to the momen­tum for a Green New Deal, the Huff­in­g­ton Posts Alexan­der Kauf­man point­ed out that the grass­roots move­ment suc­ceed­ed in mak­ing a pre­vi­ous­ly fringe pro­pos­al main­stream in a remark­ably short peri­od of time.

The push forced a sea change in cli­mate pol­i­tics,” Kauf­man con­clud­ed, push­ing the pol­i­cy debate from stag­nant, wonky, and dubi­ous solu­tions cen­tered on mar­ket tweaks to sweep­ing, dra­mat­ic poli­cies that sci­en­tists say could actu­al­ly make a dent in surg­ing green­house gas emissions.”

This arti­cle first appeared on Com­mon Dreams.

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