Nearly 150 protesters were arrested outside the Washington, D.C., offices of Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) during a climate demonstration on Monday.
Hundreds of young people affiliated with the Sunrise Movement gathered at Pelosi’s and Hoyer’s offices, as well as the office of Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), demanding bold action on climate change.
The protesters are calling on the Democratic leaders to sign on to an effort by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to pass a so-called Green New Deal, an ambitious policy proposal that some scientists say could help avert the worst of climate change in the coming decades.
U.S. Capitol Police reported 138 arrests in connection with the protests.
In a statement, Sunrise co-founder Varshini Prakash referred to a sobering October report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that said humans have until roughly 2030 to scale back greenhouse gas emissions or else face catastrophic planetary changes.
“The Democrats need a plan to make it happen. And if the Democrats want the youth vote in 2020, they need to get to work on a Green New Deal in 2019,” Prakash said.
Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed Green New Deal is a federal plan to invest in infrastructure and labor reforms aimed at combating climate change.
Under the proposal, a bipartisan committee would be established and charged with drafting a 10-year plan to neutralize the United States’ greenhouse gas output, adopt 100 percent renewable energy and reduce widening income inequality.
“The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan,” she told HuffPost in June. “It will require the investment of trillions of dollars and the creation of millions of high-wage jobs. We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy, but this time green energy.”
“Addressing climate change remains a top priority” for Pelosi, spokeswoman Taylor Griffin told HuffPost in a statement.
“She has proposed reinstating a select committee on climate and looks forward to caucus-wide discussions with the committees of jurisdiction to determine the appropriate path forward,” Griffin said.
Pelosi’s office also said it had reached out to the Sunrise Movement to set up a meeting.
“We look forward to meeting with Leader Pelosi and hope she joins her colleagues in supporting the Select Committee on a Green New Deal,” Sunrise spokesman Stephen O’Hanlon told HuffPost.
A spokesman for McGovern directed HuffPost to a statement the representative posted on Twitter endorsing the Green New Deal.
A spokeswoman for Hoyer directed HuffPost to a tweet from the representative, which didn’t address calls for him to sign onto the Green New Deal but noted his appreciation for the protesters’ urgency on “one of the most pressing issues of our time.”
Pelosi issued a statement after a similar climate protest at her office in November, saying she was “inspired by the energy and activism of the many young activists and advocates leading the way on the climate crisis.” She didn’t mention the Green New Deal but said she supported reinstating the House’s select committee on climate change.
This article has been updated with Capitol Police’s arrest numbers, as well as comment from Pelosi’s office and Sunrise.