Energy & Environment

Ocasio-Cortez joins climate change sit-in at Pelosi’s office

Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined 150 youth activists in a Tuesday sit-in at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Capitol Hill office, where the group called for congressional action on climate change.

Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Representative-elect for New York, joined the members of Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats in the demonstration, which lasted for more than an hour.

“She was elected as part of the movement, she intends to govern as part of the movement,” said Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez. “She thinks there is no other priority that we should be focused on and supports the sunrise movements call for Democrats to create a plan to transition the economy to a zero carbon economy so we have that ready to go when we take back the Presidency in 2020.”

{mosads}Photos posted on Twitter showed members of the two groups lining the office and outside hallways. One by one members handed Pelosi’s staff hand-written letters demanding climate action. U.S. Capitol Police say 51 of the protestors were arrested around 11:30 a.m. for “unlawfully demonstrating in the Cannon House Office Building.” All were charged for crowding, obstructing, or incommoding. 

The protests come less than a week after the Democrats won back the House in the midterm elections. Pelosi is expected to run for Speaker and is likely to win, though she has faced opposition from some members of her caucus calling for change.

In a statement, Pelosi said her office was “inspired” by the energy and activism of youth activists and advocates.

“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,” she said in a statement.

Pelosi added that she hoped to address the concerns through the reinstatement of a select committee on climate that was established during her previous Speakership and ended in 2011.

“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,” she said.

However, leaders of the groups criticized the promises made by Pelosi to restart the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which they deemed “toothless.”

The groups taking part in the sit-in are demanding that Democrats draft a climate action plan. They want the committee to include the goals of pushing a 100 percent renewable energy commitment, which they say will spur job growth. The plea comes after the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel released a report in October that warned some effects of climate change could be irreversible in as little as 12 years.

“While the UN’s IPCC report says we only have 12 years left to get serious about getting off fossil fuels, Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party leadership are reviving stale, so-called ‘bipartisan’ ideas that get nowhere near the scale of the crisis,” said Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas in a statement.

They are also calling on lawmakers to take an anti-fossil fuel pledge to not accept donations from oil, gas and coal companies or their lobbyists.

“We cannot afford a repeat of 2008, when Democrats held the House, Senate, and White House but failed to take bold enough action on climate change, partly because they had not developed a plan that would have guided them in that moment of opportunity,” said Rojas.

–Updated at 2:07 p.m.

Tags action Climate change House Nancy Pelosi UN
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