Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the newly elected leftist congresswoman from New York, joined a protest on Tuesday morning inside the offices of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to call for immediate action on climate change.
Ocasio-Cortez and Justice Democrats, the insurgent outfit that promoted challengers from the left throughout the 2018 Democratic primary cycle, accompanied a group of around 150 young people with the Sunrise Movement to implore Pelosi and House leadership to enact an aggressive plan to combat drastic ramifications of climate change.
The group’s demands include a push for Pelosi and House leadership to back a “Green New Deal,” a broad plan supported by Ocasio-Cortez and a number of other newly elected Democrats.
“This means creating a committee tasked specifically to write policy on creating jobs and moving our country off fossil fuels over the designated 12 years that the IPCC has given us,” the group’s petition reads. “Let’s protect the lives of all working people—black, brown, and white—from the ravages of disaster and pollution.”
Additionally they want to mandate that no member of Democratic leadership can take money from fossil-fuel executives and lobbyists.
“Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party leadership must get serious about the climate and our economy,” said Waleed Shahid, communications director for Justice Democrats. “Anything less is tantamount to denying the reality of climate change. The hopeful part is that we're ushering in a new generation of leaders into the Democratic Party who understand the urgency and will help build a movement to create the political will for bold action.”
In a video from the sit-in, Ocasio-Cortez is seen addressing the demonstrators, telling them: “I just want to let you all know how proud I am of each and every single one of you for putting yourselves and your bodies and everything on the line to make sure that we save our planet, our generation and our future. It's so incredibly important.”
At issue is the fact that Pelosi—who is expected to be re-elected House Speaker despite opposition from some of the party's new members—recently said she intends to revive a select climate change-focused committee akin to the one that existed from 2007 to 2011.
The proposal is viewed as insufficient and “toothless” by the insurgent left groups that gathered in Pelosi’s office on Tuesday morning.
Pelosi, meanwhile, claimed to be inspired by the presence of activists.
“We are inspired by the energy and activism of the many young activists and advocates leading the way on the climate crisis, which threatens the health, economic security and futures of all our communities,” she said in a statement provided to The Daily Beast.
“I have recommended to my House Democratic colleagues that we reinstate a select committee to address the climate crisis. House Democrats ran on and won on our bold campaign for a $1 trillion investment in our infrastructure that will make our communities more resilient to the climate crisis, while creating 16 million new good-paying jobs across the country.
“We welcome the presence of these activists, and we strongly urge the Capitol Police to allow them to continue to organize and participate in our democracy.”
Justice Democrats responded to her directly on Twitter, writing: “Not good enough. Pelosi is reinstating a 2007 committee tasked with investigating the harms of climate change. We don't need more investigation. We need specific plans matching the urgency and scale mandated by the UN's IPCC report on catastrophic climate change.”