Youth protesters occupied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office Wednesday afternoon, demanding climate action as a number of fires continue to rage in California.
During the sit-in, the group of 50 activists from the Sunrise Movement demanded the California Democrat move forward with the Green New Deal. The protesters argued that the legislation is desperately needed as the country begins to feel the effects of climate change, citing intensifying wildfires in the senator’s state.
The group also momentarily occupied the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
“We’re focusing on the California wildfires because it is one of the predominant examples of how the climate crisis is taking shape and taking immediate form and impacting everyday Americans,” said Gabbi Pierce, 22, of the Sunrise Movement.
“And we think it’s really crucial that we don’t just talk about these wildfires as a natural disaster but a manifestation of the climate crisis and that these are coming as a result of years of negligent to address the climate crisis.”
Ocasio-Cortez earlier this year introduced a Green New Deal resolution in the House that aimed to get the U.S. to net zero emissions by 2030.
While the Green New Deal and the rhetoric surrounding it has made climate change a key issue for Democrats, the bill has stagnated in the House. A similar resolution introduced in the Republican-led Senate failed to pass on a floor vote.
The Sunrise protesters voiced frustration about the level of congressional inaction on climate change so far. Despite Democrats gaining control of the House in 2018, critics have largely been disappointed by the lack of legislation put forward.
Pierce said that while the Green New Deal may not offer immediate action for the fires, it continues to offer Democrats a strong option on climate action, something important looking to 2020.
“I think the Green New Deal is the government agenda we see in a decadelong overhaul. I don’t think I see it as a single policy plan or tunnel vision but as a solution that meets the climate crisis at the scale of the problem by covering all facets of society,” Pierce said.
“By tackling all those things under one governing agenda, we have the power to really invigorate the base of the Democratic Party, bring in lots of new voters, mobilize the youth and win this election in 2020,” she added.