‘Tired of broken promises’: climate activists go on hunger strike outside the White House

Fears that the global energy crisis will lead to famine in vulnerable countries

With little more than sun hats, placards and folding chairs, five young activists began a hunger strike outside the White House, urging Joe Biden not to abandon his bold climate agenda.

The protest came a day after the US president threatened to water down his social and environmental legislation by $ 3.5 billion and with Washington’s commitments set to be considered at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The five protesters said they would not eat and drink only water. They plan to meet at Lafayette Park every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until their demands – which include a civilian body for the climate, a clean energy performance program, and funding for environmental justice – are satisfied.

On Wednesday, under a beautiful autumn sun, the quintet stood in a row with signs including “Hunger strike for my dreams” and “Hunger strike for my future children”. They then sat in red folding chairs with the words “A day of hunger strike” written in giant letters on the sidewalk in front of them.

« I am nervous as far as I know I am going to go on a hunger strike until the demands are met, until I am absolutely physically unable to do so, ”said Emma Govea, a high school student who turned 18 on Tuesday. “It’s scary and I know my parents are worried and my friends at home are worried. “

Biden met privately on Tuesday with nearly 20 moderate and progressive Democrats in separate groups as he appeared ready to drop an ambitious $ 3.5 billion package in favor of a smaller proposal that can win passage through Congress very divided. A central provision of Biden’s climate strategy is among those that could be reduced or removed.

Joe Manchin, a conservative senator from coal-rich West Virginia, has made it clear that he opposes the Clean Energy Performance Plan, which would see the government impose penalties on electric utilities that fail to meet the criteria. clean energy and provide financial rewards to those who do. , in line with Biden’s goal of achieving 80% “clean electricity” by 2030.

The hunger strikers, who worked with the Sunrise youth group, warned that such concessions would be disastrous for the planet.

Govea, of Santa Rosa, Calif., Said, “Joe Biden made these campaign promises and we worked really hard on his campaign and to get him elected so he can stop the climate crisis on these promises he did. “

Dropping Biden’s commitments would signal to Cop26 that America has failed, Govea added. “I will not let Joe Biden send a message to the world that he is ready to ditch the climate because I know the American people, and young people across the country and around the world, are terrified but they are ready to. to fight. «

Hunger strikers have drawn TV cameras and curious stares from tourists to an area near the White House which has reopened after months of security restrictions. As they sat, they spoke to reporters, checked their emails, and considered the long way to go.

Paul Campion, 24, had skipped his usual breakfast of a bagel with cheese and eggs. He said: “I’m nervous about losing my body weight, my muscles, what it’s going to do to my energy, to my brain, but I’m putting my body on the line because I’m here to remind Joe Biden of the promises he made and that the stakes are so high, that young people here don’t eat because it’s so urgent and so important. «

Campion, a Chicago community organizer, and his fellow protesters are “remarkable and tired of broken promises” from Biden and the Democrats, he continued. “I am on a hunger strike because I want to live a full and beautiful life without fear of the climate crisis and I want to have children, I want to play with them in the park and I want to have community dinners where I invite my friends. and the family and we sing and we have a bonfire.

“This is the future we can have if Joe Biden sits with the people and carries out his own agenda and actually fights for him instead of siding with the ExxonMobil executives who are trying to dump. its climate agenda and trying to prevent any significant federal action on climate change.«


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