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Philly students call for Green New Deal, citing a spike in ‘heat days’

Climate justice activists have been visiting congressional offices in the city asking for support.

Sunrise Movement student activists Abby Leedy (left) and Xavier Thomas outside U.S. Rep. Dwight Evan’s office. They want him to support the Green New Deal. (Photo: Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Abigail Leedy is a senior at Central High School in Philadelphia. For the last few weeks, she and other climate justice activists have been visiting congressional offices in the city, asking for support for the Green New Deal.

“We have about 15 people here today because we want Dwight Evans to co-sponsor this resolution now,” said Leedy, standing outside of Democratic U.S. Rep. Evans’ office in North Philadelphia.

Nationwide, only 84 house representatives and 11 senators have signed on as co-sponsors of the ambitious proposal to tackle climate change that was introduced by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. The only member of Pennsylvania’s delegation to support the resolution to date is Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle from Northeast Philadelphia.

But Leedy and other local members of a nationwide youth-led group called The Sunrise Movement are determined to change that. The group spearheaded the Green New Deal and won Ocasio-Cortez’s support. Now they are giving senators and representatives in the state until Tuesday to get on board or risk sit-ins like those that the Occupy movement has used.

Leedy said supporting the Green New Deal is urgent because she’s already feeling the effects of climate change. Last summer, excessive heat caused five early dismissals for Philadelphia public schools.

“I think that every year that is going to get worse,” Leedy said. “Every year, kids are going to be missing more and more school because it’s going to get hotter and hotter, and air quality is going to get worse and worse.”


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