A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Green New Deal: Youth finding voices through Sunrise Movement, calling for climate change action

By Eric Tegethoff
Public News Service

The Sunrise Movement, a youth movement calling for action on climate change, is set to make big moves in 2019. 

At the end of 2018, more than 1,000 young people, including 75 from Kentucky, gathered in the halls of Congress to call for support of the Green New Deal – legislation to address climate change and income inequality. Members of the Sunrise Movement also gathered weeks earlier outside Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office. 

Destine Grisby, a Louisville high school student, was at the Capitol in December when they assembled at the office of the second-most powerful House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer. 

“Young people have finally come into like their political understanding of their own power. But I think now, we actually have this really awesome thing that we’re backing, and we are doing an amazing job at it,” Grisby said. “I don’t think we’re going to stop, and I think we’re actually getting good feedback from Congress members as well.”

Since the midterms, more than 40 members of Congress have joined the Sunrise Movement in its call to establish a Select Committee on the Green New Deal. The legislation’s goal is to quickly move the country toward reliance on renewable energy and to train people along the way, so that no worker is left behind in the transition.

Lily Gardner, a Lexington high school student, also was outside Hoyer’s office in December and spoke to the assembled young people about the prospects of this legislation.

“The Green New Deal offers the solution – recognizing the intricacies of this vast issue, its reach beyond just the cosmetics of the earth, giving a voice to the marginalized communities and addressing their plights,” Gardner said.

Grisby said young Kentuckians are looking toward state politics as well. This year, they want to protect net metering, which allows people to sell their excess solar power back to the grid, and create jobs reclaiming old coal mining sites. She added that this year’s governor’s race could spark the Sunrise Movement to open up in the Bluegrass State.

“They’re looking to start a chapter of Sunrise specifically for Kentucky, which is super exciting because of the upcoming election and just how crazy politics are in Kentucky,” Grisby said.

The new Congress begins on Thursday, and Kentucky lawmakers are back in Frankfort on January 8.

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