Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dozens of young people occupied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) office on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, demanding that she back a Green New Deal as wildfires burned through thousands of acres in her home state. (Photo: Sunrise Movement/Twitter)

'Step Up or Step Aside': With California Engulfed in Flames, Climate Activists Occupy Nancy Pelosi's Office

"Our rage has to burn as fiercely as every fire we witness. And we're going to keep sitting in and striking until our leaders feel it too."

Julia Conley

Over 50 young climate activists from California staged a sit-in at the Capitol Office of Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, chastising the Democratic Speaker of the House for failing to act boldly on climate even as their home state is engulfed by wildfires made worse by the planetary crisis.

"We're putting Congressional Democrats on notice. If you don't stand up for us, we'll vote you out in 2020."
—Claire Tacherra-Morrison, Sunrise Movement
After taking over Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) office earlier in the day, the climate activists from the Sunrise Movement proceeded to Pelosi's office where they displayed signs reading "What Is Your Plan?" and sang "Which Side Are You On?"

"Democratic leadership is failing to treat this like the emergency that it is," organizer Claire Tacherra-Morrison said in a statement. "Business-as-usual is killing us."

Several young people shared their personal stories and pleas for Pelosi to back bold climate action which could drastically reduce and eventually eliminate climate-warming carbon emissions.

Firefighters across the state, one protester said, "are trying to contain some of the fastest-moving fires that we've seen in the West Coast" while Pelosi is "putting the lives of Californians and U.S. citizens in continued and escalating danger by not rising to meet the active dangers posed by climate change."

"Democratic leadership is failing to treat this like the emergency that it is. Business-as-usual is killing us."
—Claire Tacherra-Morrison
According to climate scientists, the warming of the planet that's been accelerated by the hundreds of billions of tons of carbon released each year by oil and gas companies is making extreme weather changes and events more frequent, leading to a longer wildfire season in California.

"We have fires all the time in Los Angeles," Mayor Eric Garcetti told Democracy Now! recently. "But our ability to knock them in past years was much stronger because we didn't have these extreme shifts of wind, we didn't have these extreme shifts of weather."

Scientists say the climate crisis has made the state's wildfires five times as dangerous, the Sunrise Movement tweeted on Wednesday.

To truly serve Californians who for three years in a row have watched as wildfires burned through thousands of acres in their state, Pelosi must back a Green New Deal, the Sunrise Movement said.

Thanks to the grassroots group's pressure campaign, more than 100 members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors to Green New Deal legislation, the 10-year plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

But Pelosi has not committed to holding a vote on the proposal and has not endorsed it herself.

Pelosi and all other members of Congress must support the Green New Deal, the Sunrise Movement says, or risk being voted out by young voters like those who took part in the Global Climate Strike in September and whose participation in the 2018 election was 79 percent higher than four years prior.

"Our rage has to burn as fiercely as every fire we witness—for the retiree who's lost their entire life savings, for the family forced to evacuate from a home they may never come back to, for the child suffocating in smoke miles away," said Varshini Prakash, co-founder of Sunrise. "And we're going to keep sitting in and striking until our leaders feel it too."

"We're putting Congressional Democrats on notice," added Tacherra-Morrison. "If you don't stand up for us, we'll vote you out in 2020."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Watch: Bernie Sanders Hosts 'Saving American Democracy' Town Hall

"Republicans in state after state are working to make it harder and harder to vote. We can't let them succeed."

Common Dreams staff ·


As SCOTUS Considers 'Extinguishing' Right to Abortion, Calls Mount for Congress to 'Step Up'

"Despite the protections that the legal framework like Roe provides, it has never been enough," said one doctor. "We continue to work toward reproductive justice."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Time to Get the Job Done': Stacey Abrams Launches New Georgia Gubernatorial Bid

"Now more than ever, it's clear Brian Kemp's days as governor are numbered."

Brett Wilkins ·


US Must Tackle Marine Plastics Pollution 'From Source to Sea': Report

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study found that the U.S. is responsible for about a quarter of the plastics that enter the world's oceans each year.

Brett Wilkins ·


First US Omicron Case Confirmed as WHO Chief Decries Failure to Share Vaccines Globally

Factors including low vaccine coverage have created "a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants," the top health official said.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo