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