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US People's Delegation Fills Climate Leadership Void Left by Trump's Pro-Fossil Fuel Agenda

"Though Trump and his billionaire friends may try to pull us backwards, we, everyday Americans, will keep moving our country forward."

Climate change activists, including a young woman from Samoa, march to demonstrate against coal energy and other climate-related issues on November 4, 2017 in Bonn, Germany. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

With the Trump administration reportedly planning to use the COP23 climate talks in Bonn, Germany to peddle fossil fuels as environmentally friendly and economically necessary, a coalition of American grassroots leaders calling itself the U.S. People's Delegation offered an ambitious alternative to President Donald Trump's affinity for dirty energy on Tuesday with a list of demands that "showcases what climate leadership must look like" if the world is to avert the worst of global warming-driven disasters.

"We are working together to purge the stain of Trump and replace it with a socially and environmentally just system."
—Eric Pica, Friends of the Earth U.S.

"Trump has allied with fossil fuel CEOs who are dead set on profiting from pollution, including Exxon CEO turned Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. They have no right to represent the American people," Dyanna Jaye of Local Governments for Sustainability said in a statement. "Though Trump and his billionaire friends may try to pull us backwards, we, everyday Americans, will keep moving our country forward."

The delegation's demands include:

  • An immediate stop to "all new fossil fuel projects, with the understanding that the fossil fuel industry continues to perpetuate the climate crisis and sow climate denial";
  • A "just and equitable transition" away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy in all U.S. cities and states as quickly as possible;
  • An end to discussions of "market schemes" like carbon pricing and cap-and-trade, which "avoid cutting pollution at the source"; and
  • A vision that reaches beyond the commitments of the Paris accord, which "were already too little, too late and would lead to at least 3.5 degrees of warming, not the 1.5° and 2° goals enshrined in the agreement."

"Our existence as human beings is not guaranteed," said Dallas Goldtooth, organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. "But our resistance to inaction is guaranteed."

As Common Dreams reported over the weekend, environmental groups from across the globe have converged on Germany to demand an "end to the era of fossil fuels" and to warn world leaders against caving to the demands of the Trump administration, which made the U.S. a global pariah by withdrawing from the Paris accord.

"Our work collectively as part of the U.S. People's Delegation is aimed at amplifying the urgency of climate action."
—Thanu Yakupitiyage, U.S. People's Delegation

But as Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth U.S., noted in a statement on Tuesday, "Trump is more than just a global embarrassment."

By walking away from the Paris accord and doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry at home, Trump has shown he is "a danger to our planet and everyone living on it," Pica said. "But the U.S. is also full of good people. We are working together to purge the stain of Trump and replace it with a socially and environmentally just system where the U.S. does its fair share in the global climate movement."

While the COP23 summit began Monday, the U.S. has already made its presence—or rather, its lack of presence—known. As Deutsche Welle reports, the U.S. did not set up its own pavilion at the event, making it the only major nation not to do so.

With their ambitious demands and planned actions throughout the week, the People's Delegation is doing what it can to fill this enormous vacuum left by the Trump administration's abdication of responsibility and climate denialism.

"Our work collectively as part of the U.S. People's Delegation is aimed at amplifying the urgency of climate action, holding accountable elected officials who have said they will step up against the Trump administration to ensure they turn their words into action, and sharing our stories and solutions from diverse communities," concluded Thanu Yakupitiyage, communications manager for the People's Delegation. "We do not have time to waste, we need real climate action now."

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