Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rep.-elect Cori Bush (D-Mo.) spoke at a rally in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, joining other progressives elected to Congress in urging President-elect Joe Biden to support a Green New Deal. (Photo: Sunrise Movement)

'We Simply Cannot Afford Half-Measures': Outside DNC, Progressives Demand Biden Go Big for Green New Deal

"We're calling on the Biden administration right now to save lives because there's no other alternative. And we're asking you because we voted for you."

Julia Conley

Progressives elected to Congress joined grassroots climate action leaders from across the country on Thursday at a rally outside the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in Washington, D.C., demanding that President-elect Joe Biden "be brave" and work to pass a bold agenda aimed at combating the climate crisis. 

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) were among the lawmakers who kicked off the 24-hour #BidenBeBrave rally, along with Reps.-elect Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), and Cori Bush (D-Mo.), the Sunrise Movement, Climate Justice Alliance, and other grassroots groups. The groups displayed signs reading, "The People Have Spoken" during the rally. 

"We're calling on the Biden administration right now to save lives because there's no other alternative," said Bush, who spoke about environmental racism in her community, where Black children are 10 times as likely as white children to be hospitalized for asthma. "And we're asking you because we voted for you. Black and brown communities showed up...So we're asking you to show up for us."

"For the first time in our lifetimes, we have the opportunity with the Biden-Harris administration to avoid and avert climate catastrophe and ensure a livable future," said Jones during his remarks.

After Biden won the Democratic primary, members of the Sunrise Movement and progressives who had advised Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on his presidential campaign met with members of the Biden campaign team and successfully pressured the former vice president to adopt a more ambitious climate action plan than the one he had put forward in the primary.

Biden committed to spending $2 trillion to help fight the climate crisis and environmental racism and released a plan that called for the elimination of carbon pollution from electricity sources by 2035.

But this week, the Sunrise Movement accused Biden of a "betrayal" when he named Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the fifth-largest recipient of fossil fuel money in the House Democratic Caucus, as his liaison between corporations and climate change activists.

The appointment flew in the face of Biden's campaign promise that he "understands the urgency" of the climate crisis and will work together with advocates, critics said.

"Let's cut to the chase," said Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright, a policy coordinator for Climate Justice Alliance, on Thursday. "Marginalized Black, Brown, and Indigenous folk came out to vote, which is the only reason there will even be a Biden administration... He can demonstrate that, 'he'll always have our backs' by scaling up frontline solutions through a Green New Deal rooted in a just transition for workers and communities."

"Our lives, our people and our solutions must be respected and seen, every day, as important as our votes every two and four years," he added. 

Markey, whose commitment to passing a Green New Deal which would provide a just transition for fossil fuel workers while transitioning towards a 100% renewable energy economy, encouraged the Sunrise Movement to campaign tirelessly for him to retain his Senate seat, also called on Biden to remember the voters who helped secure his victory.

"Young voters came out in record numbers this Election Day to send a clear message for urgent and aggressive climate action," said Markey. "Removing Donald Trump from the White House was a critical first step, but now we must work together to make the Green New Deal a reality. We simply cannot afford half-measures in this effort to save our economy, our democracy, and our very civilization."

Markey credited the movement with helping to bring climate action champions Bush, Jones, and Bowman to Congress as well, despite criticism of their bold policy agendas by powerful centrists. 

"When Alexandria and I introduced the Green New Deal in February of 2019, it was called 'pie in the sky,' it was called politically infeasible, it was called unrealistic," said the senator. "And then we had an election in 2020 and the Sunrise Movement rose up and injected itself into race after race across our country... This isn't a matter of moving to the left, it's a matter of doing what's right."


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.

GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·


UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement 'To Benefit Humanity'

"We're at a critical juncture in history," said Ethics in Tech founder Vahid Razavi. "We need as humans to come together and decide what is the best course of action to take with these technologies before they surpass us in their abilities."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressive US Lawmakers Mark Black Friday With Calls to Pass the PRO Act

"The right to organize, fight for better working conditions, and fair pay must always be protected."

Jessica Corbett ·

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