For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Maeve McBride, 350VT Director, maeve@350vt.org, 802-444-0350

Divya Gudur, Middlebury Student Organizer & Next Steps Action Council, dgudur@middlebury.edu,  847-363-1628

Zac Rudge, 350VT Communications, zac@350vt.org, 646-771-3444.

Vermont Climate Walkers Begin Five-Day Trek to State Capital

Over 270 Activists on ‘Next Steps’ March Call for Action on Climate Change

MIDDLEBURY, VT - Over 270 climate justice activists today began a five-day walk of more than  60 miles from Middlebury to the State House in Montpelier, where they will call for rapid action on climate change. Organizers from 350Vermont are calling the event ‘Next Steps: A Climate Solutions Walk’. Over the next five days, walkers will highlight the climate consequences of the buildout of the Vermont Gas pipeline; celebrate and promote examples of climate solutions; and bring local and state attention to the climate crisis.

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Since the United Nations IPCC report last year, grassroots activists have been building momentum across the country for what they say is essential action to match the scale of the threat. As governments across the United States and the world are starting to take more meaningful steps to slow climate change, 350Vermont activists say that Vermont needs to follow suit.

Among the organizations supporting the Next Steps walk and call for climate action are Migrant Justice, Sierra Club-Vermont Chapter, the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, and Sunrise Movement Middlebury College and UVM. According to 350Vermont Director Maeve McBride, the huge support for the walk is because, “We’re walking to center this situation in a new way, both for ourselves and the broader community. We’re in an emergency, a climate emergency, a justice emergency. At this moment, the communities along the Addison County pipeline are at risk because of safety violations by Vermont Gas. At this moment, youth are striking across Europe, the Green New Deal is shining brightly, and people across Vermont are seeking fair and equitable alternatives.”

Next Steps emerged from a 350VT grassroots activist conference last November. Since then, hundreds of walkers have joined, including contingents from Sunrise Movement youth climate action groups from Middlebury College and UVM, and Migrant Justice. Abel Luna, from Migrant Justice, said that they joined the walk because issues of migrant justice and climate justice were connected, “As more and more people are pushed to migrate because of the climate crisis, it is important that we urge our legislators to strengthen policies that support and protect immigrants in our state.”

Divya Gudur, of Sunrise Movement Middlebury and member of the Next Steps organizing team, said, “We now have 277 people on this walk. From young walkers to people in their eighties, from people new to climate action to those that are long-standing climate activists, there is a place for everyone in this walk and in this movement. Given the gravity of the global climate crisis, and the importance of grassroots activism in advocating for climate action, the relationships built  between walkers from all different backgrounds are critical to building a movement for change.”

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Along the route, there will be three public facing events, starting with the Kickoff at Middlebury today, followed by a public ceremony in Hinesburg on April 7 to come to terms with the gravity of the loss caused by the fossil fuel industry.

The Next Steps walkers will march together on the State House in Montpelier on Tuesday, April 9, to demand that legislators take action to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Organizers are inviting concerned Vermonters to join them there for what they are terming a “Mass Call for Climate Action”. They will be urging legislators to pass one of the three bills — H.51, S.66 and H.175 — that would ban or limit the expansion of fossil fuel pipes and infrastructure in the state.

Next Steps is presented by Ben & Jerry’s, with additional sponsorship from Grassroots Solar, Green Mountain Solar, Eco-Equipment Supply, and donations from Bees Wrap, Nutty Steph's, SunCommon, Red Hen, Earth Sky Time Farm, Burlingtone Friends, Champlain Valley Apiaries, Affordable Transportation Hinesburg, and Middlebury Natural Foods Coop.

Additional Quotes:

“This walk coincides with the waves of direct action against climate change, against uncompromising indigenous and youth leaders, and against the divisiveness that prevents us from solving the most important issue of our time.” - Ashley Bolger, 350VT Intern

“Our legislators continue to put our future at risk from inaction and we cannot wait any longer.” - Jaiel Pulskamp, 350VT Solutions Organizer

“Continuing on with ‘business as usual’ is unacceptable. Our children deserve a liveable planet and a healthy future. We need collective and legislative climate action now.” - Abby Mnookin, 350VT Mother Up! Coordinator

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350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.

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