Power Shift Cimate Protest Gathers Momentum in Washington

Published on
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The Guardian/UK

Power Shift Cimate Protest Gathers Momentum in Washington

Thousands of young Americans are converging on Washington to demand clean energy policy and action on climate change

by
Casper ter Kuile

The sun sets on the US Capitol. Tomorrow, 10,000 young climate change protesters arrive. (Photograph: Paul J Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

I've just arrived in the middle of the embassy district in
Washington DC, where an entire building crammed full of youth climate
organisers is finalising plans for Power Shift.

Last night, they opened the champagne. There are now more than 10,052 young people coming from all over America to the largest ever youth climate event in history,
where they will lobby US political leaders to enact bold climate and
energy policies that will rebuild our economy and halt global warming.

It
will be the largest climate lobby day in the country's history, and the
first mass lobby of Obama's term in office. Coverage is set to be
widespread with national TV crews and newspaper journalists arriving on
Friday, including BBC Newsnight.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, environmental leader Van Jones and dancehall artist Santigold are headlining and, with over 270 panels and workshops, organisers have had to hire the largest venue in the whole city.

The
massive sign-up drive has generated a fierce rivalry between different
universities to see who can bring the largest number of participants.
With only 48 hours to go, Middlebury College trails the University of
Vermont by only four participants with 194 coming. "We are bringing
over 10% of our whole student body, which is pretty phenomenal," said Ben Wessel, who is leading the recruitment drive at Middlebury.

Inspirational
stories continue to pour in from every corner of the country. One
sorority in Texas has rescheduled its initiation because the dates
conflicted with Power Shift, while a group in California has started
its epic train journey across the States to avoid having to fly.
Mostly, though, it is the large list of first-time climate activists
which is really exciting the organisers.

Many of these young Power Shift organisers have come fresh off the Obama campaign.
Cory Warfild, who worked for Obama in Michigan, sees a lot of
similarities. "There's an energy, a sense of possibility here right
now. We saw what success looks like last year, and we're back for
more," he said.

On Monday, all this preparation will start to pay
off. Meetings are scheduled with over 350 members of the House of
Representative and the Senate - Capitol Hill won't be able to avoid
seeing what this generation needs.

Around the world, solidarity
actions for Power Shift are taking place - from Armenia to Ecuador, and
the Philippines to Russia. Earlier today a team of young people handed
in a letter of support at the US Embassy in London, to demonstrate the
international support to set bold national climate policy.

We know that with the Copenhagen talks just months away, the decisions taken by the US government on national climate policy will make or break the UN negotiations.

Let's hope they listen to what these youth leaders have to say.

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