Outside Biden’s town hall, middle school activists demand climate action

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden held
dueling town halls on Thursday night, broadcast on different
networks, to answer questions about their plans for the country.
Biden’s televised interview was generally more subdued than a
debate with Trump would have been, but just outside the doors of
the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia where the event
was held, a group of protestors, not yet old enough to vote, were
demanding that he think bigger about climate change.

A dozen or so members of the Sunrise Movement, many of them
middle schoolers, stood on the lawn out front with signs that read
“Listen to the science” and “Youths need a Green New Deal.”
They weren’t protesting against Biden, per se — in fact, they
were imploring people to vote for him. But they also wanted to
raise pressure on the former vice president to take more aggressive
action than he’s committed to so far.

“Joe Biden may not be the perfect candidate, but he has
expressed his agenda to fight climate change,” said Eva
McIver-Jenkins, an eighth-grader from Penn Alexander middle school,
in an impassioned speech. “And although it may not be much, it is
a greater deal than what Trump can ever dream of. Biden is the best
chance we have to end this climate crisis.”

Leading up to the rally, McIver-Jenkins told Grist she was
nervous but excited. It was her first time taking part in a Sunrise
Movement protest. She joined the group, a progressive climate
advocacy organization run by young people, this summer, after
attending trainings with a few classmates where they learned how to
start a new chapter at their middle school. The group had only met
a few times when one of their mentors mentioned Biden’s town hall
and asked if they wanted to plan a rally. They spent the next six
days recruiting classmates to come, making posters and banners, and
writing speeches.

“I have to say I was like, dreading and stressing it,”
McIver-Jenkins said. “And then I got up and I started talking and
I was like, ‘This is so cool.’”

McIver-Jenkins said she’s known about climate change since she
was in second grade and was taught “the basics” — “our
world is warmer, the ice caps are melting, polar bears are
dying.” But she said it wasn’t until fifth grade that she
really understood that climate change is the product of human
activity, namely, the burning of fossil fuels. Now, as an
eighth-grader, she’s passionate about the Green New Deal and
wishes Biden weren’t wavering in his support for it.

“I’ve been seeing our country and our world be affected by
climate change so much,” she said. “And people losing their
lives and homes. So, the Green New Deal is a set of goals to get us
past this climate crisis and to get us back on track.”

During the town hall, ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos
asked Biden about his hot-and-cold relationship with the proposal.
“You say you’re not for it, but on your website it says you call
it a crucial framework.”

“My deal is a crucial framework,” Biden replied. “Not the
New Green Deal.”

Biden was actually the first to bring the Green New Deal up
during the town hall, in response to a question from the audience
about which clean industries he would bring to southwest
Pennsylvania to replace fracking. First, he clarified that he did
not propose to ban fracking but said he did intend to eliminate
methane emissions from the practice. He also said the country would
still be able to use some natural gas after developing new
technology to capture the carbon emissions — a proposal listed in
his current climate plan but that the former vice president has not
embraced so publicly before.

Then Biden described how his plan would create millions of jobs
to construct transmission lines, solar and wind farms, electric
vehicle charging stations, batteries, and to retrofit buildings to
be more efficient. He also proposed hiring
former oil and gas workers
to plug abandoned wells that leak
methane, an idea that Biden also espoused during a previous town
hall
in September.

Although all of that sounds a lot like the portrait of the Green
New Deal
painted by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of
New York, one of its key proponents, Biden differentiated his
proposal primarily by timeline: He said the Green New Deal’s goal
to eliminate all non-renewable energy by 2030, a decade from now,
is impossible.

But to the middle schoolers protesting outside, that deadline is
important.

“We do not have another four years to waste. We do not have
another year to waste,” McIver-Jenkins’s classmate, Betsy
Okrant, said in her speech. “While any climate plan is a victory
right now, his is timid and not the ambitious fight we need to wage
in the next decade before what we are doing to this planet becomes
irreversible.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
Outside Biden’s town hall, middle school activists demand climate
action
on Oct 16, 2020.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News 2
Outside Biden’s town hall, middle school activists demand
climate action