FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
8am, April 9, 2019
Maeve McBride, 350VT Director, [email protected], 802-444-0350
Divya Gudur, Middlebury Student Organizer & Next Steps Action Council, [email protected], 847-363-1628
Zac Rudge, 350VT Communications Manager, [email protected], 646 771 3444
350VT AND ALLIES MARCH IN MONTPELIER TO ESCALATE CALLS FOR CLIMATE ACTION
Hundreds Gather at Vermont State House after Five-Day Walk
MONTPELIER, VT: Five days after starting their walk from Middlebury, hundreds of climate justice activists arrived at the Vermont State House, calling for immediate legislative action to address the climate crisis. During the journey of over 60 miles, walkers highlighted the climate consequences of the build-out of the Vermont Gas pipeline, while also celebrating and promoting examples of climate solutions.
The culmination of the walk came at 1:45 p.m. today, when lawmakers were greeted in the State House by a hundreds-strong coalition, arm-in-arm, demanding what they say are critical, life-saving actions on climate change. Collectively singing resistance songs, the group proceeded to fill the State House. Youth symbolically dressed in black, offering native plants to legislators tagged with handwritten notes about what is most precious to preserve, and what potentially will be lost if elected leaders don’t do enough to safeguard their futures.
“Legislators are not acting swiftly to pass a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure or other policies commensurate with the crisis at hand,” said Julie Macuga, 350VT’s Extreme Energy Organizer. “It can’t wait till next session.”
“The climate crisis is just one symptom of a very broken and unjust system,” said Maeve McBride, director of 350Vermont. “This is why we demand economic justice, racial justice, migrant justice, indigenous rights, demilitarization, and human rights for all. Our very survival depends on these.”
The walk began last Friday in Middlebury, where Ripton resident Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org and a global leader in the fight against climate change, criticized the legislature’s failure to act on climate. “Climate change was an important part of virtually every Democratic and Progressive campaign last year,” he said. “But now that they are in Montpelier, the politicians are doing very little about it.”
McKibben noted that House Speaker MItzi Johnson, a Democrat, was recently quoted as saying that her caucus members didn’t think climate change was even among the top five issues for the legislature. “People shouldn’t have to walk all the way across Vermont to get action on climate,” he said. “But if even the Democrats’ leaders have chosen not to make climate a priority, we have no other choice but to march.”
“So far this year, some legislators have essentially been climate delayers — talking about climate change but doing very little about it at a time when it’s essential we act NOW, not next year or the year after. We need a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure and other policies commensurate with the crisis at hand,” said McBride.
Joining the action were members of Migrant Justice, Sierra Club-VT Chapter, Sunrise Middlebury and Burlington, Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, Vermont Workers’ Center, Rutland NAACP, Rural Vermont, and other allied groups. These groups came together to highlight the interconnectedness of their struggles— that climate change and social justice issues are not separate.
Beverly Little Thunder, Lakota Elder from Standing Rock who joined the walk spoke of the need for change, “In the Americas, people survived for thousands of years prior to colonialism being introduced. Capitalism, racism, social injustice, all of those things have grown in the last 200 to 300 years. And they have caused more destruction to our planet than ever before. We owe it to our children to remind them of the balance that needs to be restored. We are asking our lawmakers to create bills that will protect further destruction.”
Abel Luna, from Migrant Justice, said that they joined the walk because issues of migrant justice and climate justice were connected, “As more and more people are pushed to migrate because of the climate crisis, it is important that we urge our legislators to strengthen policies that support and protect immigrants in our state.”
Youth joined the climate walk and action from several youth activist groups, including Sunrise Middlebury, Sunrise Burlington, Vermont Youth Lobby, Root Social Justice Center Youth 4 Change, and EnACT. Leif Taranta, of Sunrise Middlebury, said, “We know the threat that climate change poses to our homes and our futures. We are terrified about what is to come, but resolved in demanding change. Sunrise Middlebury and Burlington are currently pushing for a Green New Deal in Vermont. For us this means transitioning from a fossil fuel based economy to an economy based on green jobs, racial and economic justice, and investment in the communities most impacted by climate disruption.
Given the gravity of the global climate crisis and the importance of grassroots activism in advocating for climate action, the climate walkers— who walked through rain, snow, sleet, sunshine, blisters and mud — represent the face of a growing movement for necessary climate action.
350Vermont had the support of many local businesses including Ben & Jerry’s, Grassroots Solar, Green Mountain Solar, Eco-Equipment Supply, Bees Wrap, Nutty Steph's, SunCommon, Red Hen, Earth Sky Time Farm, Champlain Valley Apiaries, and Middlebury Natural Foods Coop. Faith communities and other groups, including Burlington Friends, Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, United Church of Hinesburg, Richmond Congregational Church, Camp Meade, the Richmond Energy Committee, New Community Project, Brass Balagan, the Hive on Pine, Green Mountain Druids, supported the hundreds of walkers with hospitality, community potlucks, housing, arts, and more.
Action at 1:45pm at the State House. Spokespeople from the action will be able to speak to press after the action, approximately 2:15pm outside the State House.
350Vermont is a statewide organization in Vermont working to build a grassroots movement to reverse climate change. 350Vermont’s mission is to organize, educate, and support people in Vermont to work together for climate justice – resisting fossil fuels, building momentum for alternatives, and transforming our communities toward justice and resilience. Although we are an affiliated group of 350.org with a similar mission, 350VT is an independent organization, with local campaigns to bring about solutions to climate change, advocate for a carbon pollution tax, and stop any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.
For more information, visit: 350vermont.org
Migrant Justice build the voice, capacity, and power of the Vermont farmworker community and engage community partners to organize for economic justice and human rights. They gather the farmworker community to discuss and analyze shared problems and to envision collective solutions. Through this ongoing investment in leadership development, members deepen their skills in community education and organizing for long-term systemic change. From this basis their members have defined community problems as a denial of rights and dignity and have prioritized building a movement to secure these fundamental human rights to: 1) Dignified Work and Quality Housing; 2) Freedom of Movement and Access to Transportation; 3) Freedom from discrimination; 4) Access to Health Care.
For more information, visit https://migrantjustice.net
SIERRA CLUB-VERMONT CHAPTER
The purpose of Sierra Club-Vermont Chapter is to explore, enjoy and protect the wild places of the Earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the Earth's ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
For more information, visit https://vermont.sierraclub.org/
THE VERMONT RACIAL JUSTICE ALLIANCE
The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance addresses racial justice in Vermont. They use of their collective strengths and voices to implement policy. It is their intent that this policy will positively impact Vermont on a Statewide basis. It is the intent that the policy will address systems and processes that surrounding the institutionalized as well as overt discriminatory components of racism in Vermont. The Alliance works collaboratively to develop strategy and allocate resources to ensure the implementation of these policies. Together, they are working to advance and defend policies that promote racial justice. These policies seek to address racial justice in the areas of housing, education, employment, health services and economic development and the criminal justice system.
SUNRISE MOVEMENT MIDDLEBURY AND BURLINGTON
Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. They are building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people. They are ordinary young people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places they love. They are not looking to the right or left. They look forward. Sunrise Middlebury and UVM are new hubs in the Sunrise Movement.