Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke about climate change and the Green New Deal at a panel at Boulder High School on Saturday morning.
“Here in Colorado I think represents a front line for how we’re going to show that this is not just about ending one era but beginning another,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This right here in this room is the movement that is going to transform our future and make it more sustainable and just for future generations.”
Ocasio-Cortez said the proposed legislation, which she is sponsoring and Neguse supports, addresses the root causes of climate change and will make the economy more sustainable.
Neguse agreed and said he doesn’t think there’s a more important issue facing the country or society right now.
“It is an existential threat in every way to our way of life,” he said. “I think about this every day.”
Boulder High senior Kirby Meschke said she's concerned about how the climate change affects not only the world at large but also people here in the United States specifically.
“We have a really high quality of life. There are still people who are drinking poisonous water and poisonous air,” she said. “It’s more than just … rising waters and melting glaciers.”
The Congressmembers were joined by student climate action activists Tamera Breidenbach from Colorado State University and Michael Jacobs of the University of Colorado Boulder. They said climate change became more and more personal for them as they traveled to Peru and Paris and noticed the change affecting people all over the world.
During a question and answer session, one audience member asked how Congress plans to pass the Green New Deal given the partisan divide.
Ocasio-Cortez said there’s a strong tie between politics, the fossil fuel industry and money. She said being aware of consumption, like how much plastic you use, is important, but it isn’t going to change systemic problems with big corporations.
“We need to look at the producers. Not the consumers when it comes to systemic change,” she said.
Neguse said it can look and feel hopeless to be someone who is trying to make a dent in climate change, but encouraged audience members to imagine the possibilities.
“A year ago, we were not in Congress. A year ago there were no climate strikes,” he said. “Don’t for a second believe that you can’t have an impact.”
The Congressmembers planned to attend Boulder County’s largest Democratic fundraiser later on Saturday.
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