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Youth Climate Activists Demanding Green New Deal Arrested for Sit-In at McConnell's Office
By Jessica Corbett
Hundreds of Kentucky high school students and climate campaigners with the youth-led Sunrise Movement descended on the Capitol Hill office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday to deliver 100,000 petition signatures and stage a sit-in to make clear to lawmakers that young people want a Green New Deal for their communities and futures.
For calling on McConnell to heed public demands for federal lawmakers to pass policies that will phase out fossil fuels and combat the global climate crisis while also creating green jobs and a more just economy, more than 40 demonstrators were arrested:
As recent polling shows more than 80 percent of Americans back key elements of the Green New Deal put forth by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the mobilization to increase pressure on McConnell comes after the majority leader announced last week that he plans to rush a floor vote on the resolution, which critics denounced as a ploy to fuel divisions in the Democratic Party.
"Kentucky youth traveled here today because their state needs a Green New Deal. Mitch McConnell's Green New Deal vote is a political stunt to score some points for his wealthy donors," Sunrise Movement Executive Director Varshini Prakash said in a statement. "We're here to warn him and all senators: if you refuse to back the Green New Deal, young people will remember next time you ask for our votes."
Demonstrators who carried signs that read "Oil & gas $ or our lives?," "Green New Deal," and "Mitch, Look us in the eyes" as well as supporters posted updates on social media from Monday's demonstration with the hashtags #OilMoneyMitch and #LookUsInTheEyes:
"I am here because people in my community don't have jobs, are starving and turning to opioids and dying," 15-year-old Lily Gardner of Lexington, Kentucky said in a statement. "Mitch McConnell refuses to do anything about. His own constituents—high schoolers—have traveled here to meet with him. All we want is for him to put our lives above the interests of his campaign donors."
Both from McConnell's office and outside the Capitol Building, the youth demonstrators shared why they felt compelled to visit their senator in Washington, DC—with some pointing to warnings from a recent U.N. report that the international community has just about 12 years to pursue "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented" systemic changes needed to avert climate catastrophe:
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who is among the scores of
co-sponsors of the Green New Deal resolution, voiced support for the sit-in at McConnell's office on Monday, urging the youth climate activists to "keep fighting."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
- Protesters rally at McConnell's office in support of Green New Deal ... ›
- Sunrise Movement - YouTube ›
- Sunrise Movement ›
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"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."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
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."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›