The following are notes and analysis from the ‘Solving Our Climate Crisis’ Town Hall hosted by Bernie Sanders. Van Jones (CNN Commentator & Climate Activist), Bill McKibben (Climate Activist), and Shailene Woodley (Our Revolution Board Member, Activist, and Actress).
Segment One (Brenda Ekwurzel, Director of Climate Science for the Climate & Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists)
Bernie Sanders thanked Green Peace, 350.org, Sun Rise, Dream Corps, Friends of the Earth, and other environmental organizations that helped with the Town Hall. He also thanked TYT, Now This, ACT TV, Guardian, Intercept, and CNN among others for live streaming the event.
Early Sanders made a joke that the event wasn’t sponsored by Exxon Mobile or the Koch Brothers, who make their money in fossil fuels.
McKibben stated he spoke to 8-9 survivors from Chico, California fire and argued the need for immediate change. Brenda Ekwurzel stated the need to make change is within a window of ten to twelve years.
Van Jones asked Ekwurzel a facetious question “Can we develop something to suck carbon out of the atmosphere” she laughed and stated ‘a tree.’
Woodley asked if nature saving nature is an option to help, Ekwurzel said yes, but the rising sea levels (from climate change) is making that difficult.
Ekwurzel said it’s not too late to reserve climate change effects if we begin now.
Van Jones asked Ekwurzel ‘what gives her hope’ she stated ‘over 455 cities are working to lower the rise of sea levels.’
Woodley asked ‘What can people at home do?’ Ekwurzel suggested activating citizens to speak to politicians about it and share the stories.
Segment Two (Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Earth Guardian Youth Director)
Bernie Sanders stated that young people are the ones helping the most to help raise climate change awareness.
Sanders also pointed out that fossil fuel industry spends money across the US attempting to defeat environmental legislation. Critiqued the Koch’s again for funding to defeat initiatives and attempting to elect right-wing politicians against climate change.
Martinez stated both parties taking fossil fuel money and being afraid to stand up to the fossil money due to political pushback. Also claimed he feels younger generations are more connected than ever due to social media. Woodley doubled down on that, stating that communities need to come together in order to make a change. Martinez said we are fighting for the beauty and love in the world and ‘it is worth fighting for.’
McKibben said “Sometimes I channel my inner Bernie [Sanders] and get pissed off,” after stating he understands fighting for love and beauty.
Martinez called out Governor John Hickenlooper [D-Colorado] who stated he would drink fracking fluid and brought up his lawsuits to fight green initiatives within the state.
Van Jones said he’s known Martinez since he was in ‘single digits’ and commented how Martinez was actually an artist who talks about politics.
Martinez is an MC and rapped at the end after Jones ask him. Bernie said he can say without fear of being wrong ‘That this was a unique presentation in the halls of the Senate.’
Segment Three (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Congresswoman-elect for NY-14)
Bernie opened with a critique of President Trump quoting him saying the US would lose jobs by moving to renewable energy, AOC also confirmed Trump was absolutely wrong.
AOC said that this [climate change fight] is the ‘Civil Rights movement of our generation [Millennials and Post-Millennials].’ Bernie followed by stated that it will also create jobs and help the economy.
AOC followed by stating ‘The water in Flint [Michigan] is still dirty…the water in Flint is still dirty’ then followed by stating the smoke in California is choking children and there are still issues in Puerto Rico.
AOC was moved to run for Congress by Standing Rock.
Segment Four (Dale Ross Mayor of Georgetown, Texas Republican)
Said he listens to subject matter experts not those without education on topics.
Stated that coal jobs are definitely not coming back no matter who says, due to it not competing in the market.
Georgetown Texas 100% renewable energy largest in Texas. Denton, working on the same goal. Burlington, Vermont was the first to go 100% renewable when Bernie Sanders was Mayor. Ross mentions him in speeches.
Says the electric bills won’t go up much due to renewable energy due to a 20+ year contract, which is something fossil fuels cannot compete with.
Says he wants to leave things better than he found it.
Segment Five (Dr. Camilla Bausch, President of Ecologic Institute)
Began with mentioning Germany’s renewable energy went from 4% to 40% and Chile’s move to renewable energy.
Bernie doesn’t pull punches on mocking lack of progress in global renewable energy. Asked her “what would the world look like if we had sane leadership,” regarding renewable energy. Bausch went into great detail.
Bill McKibben mentioned being in Africa and the first electricity they received were renewable energy through solar panels.
Bausch spoke about the challenges in increasing public perception in favor of renewable energy after Woodley asked the question.
She spoke of hope and building community in getting agreements like the Paris Accords.
She stated urgency isn’t quite yet what it needs to be, but most investments are going into renewable energy.
Woodley was extremely enthusiastic and hopeful about people listening and getting activated.
McKibben stated on the history of Climate change and said that the past 10 years have seen people seizing the moment. Blamed the fossil fuel industry for stopping other moments attempting to do something about climate change.
Sanders mentioned that we are all in this together and that we could spend trillions on fighting climate change rather than on weapons of war.
Mentioned how the fossil fuel industry spent billions to push their agenda.
The Entire Town Hall Can Be Seen Below