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San Diego Activist Argues Why Green New Deal Matters

A San Diego police officer asking the protesters to vacate Rep. Scott Peters ...

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: A San Diego police officer asking the protesters to vacate Rep. Scott Peters office on Sept. 26, 2019.

San Diego 350, a local group of climate advocates, wants Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego to become a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal. But Peters is not sold on the sweeping climate change blueprint, because it does not have actual legislation and includes items unrelated to the environment like free college. KPBS environment reporter Erik Anderson recently talked with the executive director of San Diego 350, Masada Disenhouse, about why the group is not backing away from the dispute with Peters.

Reported by Erik Anderson

Q: Why does SanDigeo350 support the Green New Deal?

A: It’s the only proposed policy that really addresses the climate crisis at the scale of the problem. And it’s a public program that invests in people and infrastructure in order to transform our energy sector and our economy as the science demands. And it also prioritizes working families and front line communities.

Q: The framework that The Green New Deal sets up, what does that look like or sound like?

A: The U.N. report has told us that we have about 10 years to really reduce carbon pollution in the atmosphere. And so, it first of all sets expectations that we will meet those reductions. And it envisions the large financial investment that will be required to really transform our economy into a clean energy economy.

Q: Of the (region’s) four democrats, Peters is the only one who’s not supporting the Green New Deal. Do you accept his explanation for why?

Photo credit: Masada Disenhouse

Executive Director of San Diego 350, Masada Disenhouse, in this undated photo.

A: Well you know, he’s said that he supports the climate parts of the green new deal, but not the equity parts. But that’s problematic because we know that the climate crisis is going to severely disrupt our entire economy and so we need to make sure that climate solutions not only reduce carbon pollution but also create jobs.

RELATED: Rep. Peters Explains Why He Doesn’t Like The Green New Deal

Q: Have you sat down and talked to the congressman about this?

A: Members of our organization have met with him on more than one occasion and talked to him about it, yeah.

Q: And what was his response to you?

A: Basically he’s told us he supports the climate part of the Green New Deal but not the equity part. And he also has said, that he has a problem with the fact that it’s a resolution. But he hasn’t suggested an alternative, a really bold comprehensive climate action like the Green New Deal. You know, we’re not married to the Green New Deal, but we need something at that scale that will really accomplish the goals in the short window that we have available to do that.

Q: You’ve tried to convince him to change his position. Tell me what that’s been like for you. What have you done? And where is that going?

A: We have tried to change his position and I’ll just say that I do think the campaign has been successful because since the beginning of the campaign, both representatives Vargas and Davis have come on board to sign the Green New Deal. And I also think that representative Peters has engaged on the issue much more than he did previously. So far we have tried to….We have sent postcards. Have made phone calls. We have met with the congressman. We’ve held rallies outside his office.

Q: And rallies inside of his office, too.

A: Yes, but I was going to say we haven’t , we didn’t take a step lightly. We really tried a range of actions prior to that to convince him because, you know, climate change is a planetary emergency. Basically, our house is on fire and it’s unfortunate that many of our elected officials, including representative Peters, have really failed to take the bold climate action required.

Q: When you look at the efforts to draw attention to this issue, what gives you hope?

I’d say that more than anything else at this point, what gives me hope is the large numbers of young people who are taking action to combat climate change.

Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

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