"A New Mission For The Senate: Shoot For The Moon And Cut CO2 40% By 2020"
Our guest blogger is climate activist Julie Erickson.
In honor of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, youth advocates today challenged Congress to a new mission of reducing global warming pollution by 40 percent in ten years. Dressed as NASA astronauts, the climate activists attended the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s hearing on green jobs and the new clean economy. We unfurled the banner, “What Can America Do in 10 Years?” followed by this checklist:
– Put Man on Moon [Check!]
– Cut CO2 40% [???]
Wearing suits with the message, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” the astronauts called for senators to tackle the climate crisis with the same ambition and urgency as their predecessors demonstrated for the Apollo project. (After we displayed our banners, the Capitol police politely escorted us out.)
Today’s mission emphasized our call for FASTER emissions reduction targets. In order to have a good chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, all developed countries must reduce carbon emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Setting this target would also the make the US bargaining position STRONGER at UN negotiations in Copenhagen this December. At best, the American Clean Energy and Security Act only reduces U.S. emissions 17-23% below 1990 levels by 2020.
In the afternoon, we’ll proceed to Senate offices to dance “around the world” and again suggest that if the US had the ambition to put a man on moon in 10 years’ time, than the nation also can cut CO2 emissions by 40 percent in the same time frame. Finally, our Apollo mission will head to the Union Station Metro stop at 5:30 pm to do our moonwalk — this time to a hot Daft Punk beat — for staffers and others passing through during rush hour:
Responses in the room ranged from excited smiles and laughs to uncomfortable grimaces. Senators Boxer and Sanders didn’t reach for the gavel to call for order. A confused capitol police officer kindly asked us to sit, but didn’t kick us out. After 15 minutes, another officer asked us into the hallway but let us back in after a warning. Walking in and out of the hearing twice only added to our visibility because of the bright and shiny NASA suits we all had on.
Once we were let in a second time, we stood up on the benches in the back and raised the banners even higher. While that resulted us being escorted out of the building (it was time for a nap anyway!) it also resulted in more comments by the senators and staff.
Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) thanked us and repeated the message almost word-for-word. Bob Kiss, mayor of Burlington, thanked us for our antics, before laying out Burlington’s success at reducing emissions and creating jobs. And to me it seemed we put smiles on many other young people wearing suits and working more ’serious’ jobs who wished they could have joined us.