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Youth-Led Petition Urges 2020 Democratic Candidates to Hold Climate Debate

Politics
A student carries a sign as he marches during the Youth Climate Strike on March 15 in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

A petition calling on 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to hold a climate-specific debate has garnered over 30,000 signatures in just around 48 hours, providing evidence of the widespread grassroots pressure on White House hopefuls to offer bold and detailed solutions to the ecological crisis.


Led by the U.S. Youth Climate Strike team, the petition aims to "ensure environmental issues from climate change, access to clean water, environmental racism, and everything in between that are disproportionately impacting people of color and working class folks are given the serious attention they deserve."

"With the magnitude of the oncoming climate crisis it's no longer sufficient to have a single token environmental question that 2020 candidates get to brush off with a soundbite. We need an entire debate on environmental policies," reads the petition, which will be delivered to 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and the Democratic National Committee.

"Let's be sure we hear how candidates plan to stop companies accountable for polluting our water and air and what they think about opening up federal land to fracking, drilling, and trophy hunting," the document continues.

As of this writing, 30,007 people have signed the petition.

On Tuesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee became the first 2020 presidential candidateto express support for a climate-specific debate with a petition of his own.

"Each 2020 nominee needs to have a concrete plan to address climate change—and we deserve to hear those plans," Inslee wrote in an email to supporters.

As Common Dreams reported last December, the DNC announced it will hold 12 total presidential primary debates.

Mounting pressure on the DNC to schedule a climate-only debate comes as the youth-led Sunrise Movement and other environmental groups continue to mobilize nationwide to build grassroots support for the Green New Deal.

In 2016, climate change almost never came up during presidential debates. As scientists warn only rapid and drastic action to slash carbon emissions will be enough to avert planetary disaster, youth climate leaders are working to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

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The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

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