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Sunrise Movement hunger strike

Sunrise Movement hunger strikers and their supporters demonstrate outside the White House in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 2021. (Photo: Sunrise Movement/Twitter)

Sunrise Movement Corrects Manchin: US 'Has Done More Than Any Other' to Cause—Not Solve—Climate Crisis

"Sen. Manchin is clearly drafting his climate plan with false information. At worst he's telling us lies given to him by his fossil fuel donors. At best, he's misinformed."

Brett Wilkins

As activists with the Sunrise Movement confronted Sen. Joe Manchin in Washington, D.C. Tuesday—their seventh day of a hunger strike for climate justice—the leader of the youth-led green group shot down a claim by the fossil fuel-funded West Virginia Democrat that the United States leads the world in tackling the planetary emergency.

"If the U.S. doesn't pass massive climate action this fall, it is too late. This is one of our last chances."

Manchin, who addressed the Economic Club of D.C.—where he professed his belief that "government should be my partner, not my provider"—was confronted by the hunger-striking activists as he left the Capital Hilton, which hosted the event. 

One of strikers, Abby Leedy, asked Manchin, "Does the fossil fuel industry money you've taken have anything to do with you blocking vital climate legislation right now, despite the fact that millions of people are going to die?"

"Abby, let me tell you, the United States has done more than any country," Manchin replied, repeating a claim he made to another Sunrise activist that the U.S. "does more than any nation on Earth to clean up our environment," and that "we have basically reduced emissions in the last 10 years more than anybody else."

Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash set Manchin straight in a statement, saying, "To be clear, the United States has done more than any other country to cause climate change, emitting more than anyone else by a fair margin."

"Sen. Manchin is clearly drafting his climate plan with false information," she added. "At worst he's telling us lies given to him by his fossil fuel donors. At best, he's misinformed."

Leedy also did not accept Manchin's claim, telling him that "if the United States of America doesn't cut our emissions by at least 50%, I will grow up through nonstop climate emergencies."

As Common Dreams reported last week, Manchin—whose family has made a fortune from coal—is by far the top congressional recipient of Big Oil campaign contributions this election cycle, and has taken $400,000 from fossil fuel PACs and executives in the last quarter alone.

Manchin told her to call his office.

"Millions of people have called your office," Leedy shot back. "We have been trying to reach you for months and months because you are standing against everything I need to have a livable future."

"If the U.S. doesn't pass massive climate action this fall, it is too late," she added. "This is one of our last chances."

The hunger strikers, whose action comes on the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland, have three demands:

  • Pass the full scope of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill to ensure the United States reduces emissions at least 50% by 2030, while advancing justice and creating millions of new good union jobs;
  • Create a Civilian Climate Corps, while making direct investments in public schools, housing, transit, a public clean energy accelerator, and a 100% clean energy grid by no later than 2035 to reduce emissions across major sectors and improve our communities; and
  • No more fossil fuel investments.

Prakash said that President Joe Biden "must continue to fight for the climate provisions he promised me and our generation when he was running—a fully funded Civilian Climate Corps, cutting at least 50% of U.S. emissions by 2030, and maintaining his commitment of 100% clean energy by no later than 2035."

"Anything less," she insisted, "is a failure."

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