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Climate activists rally for Green New Deal at Seattle City Hall

Demonstrators gather in Washington DC protesting the Trump administration's stance on environmental issues. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

With chants and songs, climate activists rallied for the Green New Deal at Seattle City Hall Tuesday afternoon. Activists say it’s the start of a new, local campaign.

“Green New Deal, Green New Deal,” the crowd sang at Seattle City Hall. “Bus and trains and bicycle wheels. We need orca, salmon, and seals.”

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The songs and slogans were delivered along with a letter to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office, demanding the city eliminate climate pollution by 2030. Organizers say that more than 100 people crowded into city hall to deliver the letter.

“The things we need to do to reduce our climate pollution like investing in public transit, and a thriving local green economy are also what will make our city a more beautiful, healthy and just place to live,” said Jess Wallach with the environmental group 350 Seattle.

The groups have a range of funding proposals. They include a climate emergency tax on big business and re-directing city funds. Mayor Jenny Durkan did not attend the campaign launch, but Deputy Mayor Shefali Rangathan spoke on her behalf.

“She believes that climate change is one of our generational challenges and we must address it,” Rangathan said.

Tuesday’s demonstration is part of the launch of a new campaign: Seattle for a Green New Deal. It could be the first in a string of new activity around the proposal organized by Seattle 350 and the group Got Green. The organizations say they have more than 60 endorsements from Seattle businesses, organizations, and community leaders. They say that Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda, Mike O’Brien, and Kshama Sawant are in support. Also, former mayoral candidates Cary Moon and Nikkita Oliver and former Mayor Mike McGinn. Labor unions UAW 4121 and UAW 1981, as well as El Centro de la Raza are also supporters.

“Despite years of good rhetoric on climate, we know that in recent years, Seattle’s climate pollution is actually rising” Wallach said. “Over the coming months, we’re going to demonstrate that thousands of Seattle residents passionately support transformative climate action and a Green New Deal for our city.”

Green New Deal

The Green New Deal is an economic package aimed at redeveloping the United States economy for the future with diversified energy sources, new jobs, infrastructure, and other tech advancements. It is akin to the New Deal of the 1930s, when the federal government engaged in a plan to modernize the country with electrical infrastructure and other advancements.

So far, the Green New Deal has amounted to mostly talk. More recently, politicians in Washington D.0.C have proposed resolutions in favor of it, but those did not pass.

“Seattle is the most formally educated city in the nation,” said Judy Twedt, Board member of UAW 4121, which represents more than 5,500 academic workers. “We are a city of almost unimaginable ingenuity and talent. We are a city of immigrants, a city of workers, a city of parents and caregivers and children whose lives are jeopardized by the climate crisis. We are also a city of people struggling just to get by, and a city of extreme inequality. It’s time to gather our moral courage, to heed the science and the cries of the young, and to chart a course forward with compassion and determination. We’re ready to lead — it’s time that our city leaders join us.”

KIRO Radio contributed to this report.

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