FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 13, 2017
Contact: Garrett Blad, SustainUS
CROWD WALKS OUT OF US-BACKED FOSSIL FUEL PANEL AT CLIMATE TALKS SINGING, “WE THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD UNITE”
U.S. youth lead mass walk-out of Trump Administration event geared to promote coal and fossil fuels at UN Climate Talks
Bonn, Germany – A fossil fuel panel was interrupted today at the Bonn Climate Talks in Germany, where the U.S. Administration hosted a panel on coal and nuclear energy. Over 100 attendees stood up and sang a song to the tune of “God Bless the USA.” Led by the SustainUS youth delegation and other members of the U.S. People’s Delegation, attendees left singing that fossil fuels must be kept in the ground. This action reflects a fast-growing contingent of Americans who stand against Trump’s policies on climate change and withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. This comes only days after civil society groups disrupted a speech by California’s governor Jerry Brown at the US Climate Action Pavilion.
“We, the people, are taking back our democracy from Big Oil CEOs,” said Varshini Prakash, official youth delegate and community leader from Massachusetts. “The oil and gas industry spent more than $100 million corrupting our democracy in the 2016 election cycle alone. Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson now runs the US State Department. This White House panel of fossil fuel billionaires is a disgrace and an insult to the people of the U.S. and the world who are moving forward with bold climate solutions and want to stay in the Paris Agreement.”
The panel titled “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation,” brought significant attention in advance of the climate conference. The song that participants sang was a rendition of “God Bless the USA” that pointed to fossil fuel CEOs as responsible for rolling back action on climate. During the interruption, attendees displayed a banner that said “We the People,” with “Fossil Fuel CEOs” crossed out. The majority of Americans support the Paris Agreement and want government and businesses to do more to stop climate change.
“We want a country that is actually of, by, and for all people,” said Troy Robertson, a SustainUS youth delegate and sixth-grade teacher from New Orleans, Louisiana. “I never felt more helpless than when Hurricane Katrina left people in my community stranded on bridges looking for food and resources just to survive. Americans and people around the globe want action on climate change.”
“As young people, we have more to lose than any other generation to the climate crisis. We are here as a delegation of 15 youth,” Prakash says, “but also as part of a movement of thousands of young people uniting at home to make sure local, state, and federal politicians follow through on upholding the Paris Agreement. If they don’t, we’ll vote them out of office.”
Thanu Yakupitiyage, U.S. Communications Manager at 350.org and coordinator of the U.S. People’s Delegation said, “We stand as communities united against the Trump Administration’s fossil-fueled agenda. Despite the overwhelming evidence of human-caused climate change, the Trump Administration continues to spread their lies even at these climate talks. That’s why the U.S. People’s Delegation, including SustainUS, Sunrise Movement, 350.org, and many other partners, conducted events, town halls, and actions at this COP to shift the focus to the real needs of our communities: an urgent, just transition to 100% renewables in all cities and states and a halt to all new fossil fuel projects. We won’t stand for anything less.”
Interviews with SustainUS youth delegates available upon request.
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Song: to the Tune of “God Bless the USA”
So you claim to be an American
But we see right through your greed.
It’s killing all across the world
For that coal money.
And we proudly stand up
Until you keep it in the ground.
We the people of the world unite
And we are here to stay.
About SustainUS: SustainUS is a youth-led organization that empowers young people to engage in advocacy and action to demand justice and sustainability on a global stage. We believe that systemic change is needed to deal with our social, economic, and environmental crises. To that end, we train young people to be effective agents of change, create media that frames important political moments, and engage directly in key policy processes at both the domestic and international levels. SustainUS has engaged with the U.N. Climate Negotiations since 2005, and helped establish YOUNGO, the constituency representing young people at the talks. SustainUS has trained over 1,000 young people to be lifelong agents of change since 2001.
Also published on Medium.