Speaking at a televised town hall on Monday, Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSecurity policy expert: Defense industry donations let lawmakers 'ignore public opinion' Do progressives prefer Trump to compromise? Don't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery MORE (D-N.Y.) said that the government’s next steps toward fighting climate change need to be as momentous as the civil rights movement or NASA's push to put a man on the moon.
“This is going to be the Great Society, the moonshot, the civil rights movement of our generation. That is the scale of the ambition that this movement is going to require,” the New York Democrat said.
Sitting on a panel during the "Climate Change Town Hall" organized by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDo progressives prefer Trump to compromise? Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks MORE (I-Vt.), Ocasio-Cortez challenged the Trump administration's scaled-back approach to fighting global warming and called for more aggression from Congress once she joins the House in January.
“It’s unsurprising that the response to any bold proposal that we have is to incite fear. To incite fear of loss, to incite fear of others. To incite fear of our future. But the only way we are going to get out of this situation is to be courageous,” she said of the White House.
The comments from the bold progressive, who created shock waves over the summer with her primary win over veteran Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), echo an initiative she’s been pushing since the midterm elections.
The "Green New Deal" is an idea Ocasio-Cortez first introduced during a sit-down at House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin cast doubt on deal this week for .5T spending bill Obama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda MORE’s (D-Calif.) congressional office in late November. It has since been championed by 15 Democratic House lawmakers as a way to create a select committee to focus on transitioning the country toward 100 percent renewable energy.
Sanders, who has been a vocal supporter of the effort, highlighted the need for multiple venues of climate action during his town hall. As evidence for the need for swift action, Sanders pointed to recently released climate reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as one from the United States. Both warn of the irreversible effects of warming temperatures.
“We are dealing with what the scientific community tells us is the great crisis facing our planet and facing humanity, and that is climate change,” Sanders said.
“All of these reports make a very simple and profound point. And that is, time is late and as a planet that means countries all over the world, not just the U.S and Russia, are going to have to stand up and take on the fossil fuel industry. ... This is a crisis situation, it is unprecedented and we’ve got to act in an unprecedented way.”
Sanders blasted many of his colleagues, including some Democrats, who take money from the fossil-fuel industry in the form of campaign contributions.
Membership to the Green New Deal select committee would include a promise to not accept donations from any fossil fuel company.
Critics have blamed the industry and its lobbyists for binding the hands of Republicans in Congress who are either skeptical of the human role in climate change, or else argue moving toward renewable energy is not economically feasible.
Both Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez decried those as false talking points.
“First of all it’s just plain wrong, that idea that we are going to somehow lose economic activity,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
“It’s inevitable that we will create jobs. We can use the transition to 100 percent renewable energy as the vehicle to truly deliver and establish economic, social and racial justice in the United States of America.”
Ocasio-Cortez, an emerging progressive darling who has faced a number of potshots from Republicans and right-leaning publications during the transition period, took the opportunity at the town hall to chide her critics.
“It’s an interesting puzzle in how media, especially you know right-ring media, but all media treats me. Because in our journey, I am a working person who won a seat against all odds,” she said.
Sanders, interjected adding: “Can we interrupt this program to make an announcement on your shoes?”
The comment was a jab at Fox News's morning show "Fox & Friends," which the day of the federal government's national climate report's release opted to focus a segment on the future congresswoman’s shoes.
Looking to the future, Ocasio-Cortez pushed the importance of organizing a holistic approach to fixing climate change.
“When we try to solve this issue piecemeal, we will not solve it in time,” she warned.