Climate Change activism takes Capitol Hill, Georgetown

September 27, 2019

Last Friday thousands across the country rallied for climate change policy. Georgetown students also took part in the protest; in an event promoted by GREEN, an environmental group on campus, a number of students came together to attend the strike on Capitol Hill. 

Hundreds gathered on Capitol Hill to hear speakers from various climate change justice organizations and to gain the attention of the policy makers. Protesters held signs and participated in chants calling for action on climate change legislation. 

Students traveled from outside of the District to have their voices heard. 

“For me, I think there is a lot of political implications of climate change, and I think that if it didn’t exist, we would be a lot more productive, generally, because there are still people that work [in the Capitol]  that don’t believe in climate change,’ said Chris Hoffmann, a junior at the University of Maryland. 

Not only the younger generation joined in the climate rally. Protester Keith Petersen marched with his nine grandchildren in mind. “I am here on behalf of my grandchildren. The oldest is 13 and the youngest is 3,” he said. 

According to Petersen, he has been working in the climate change field for decades. “It is my apology for my generation, for those in that building behind me, who look like me,” Petersen said of congressmen. “ My apologies to your generation, my grandchildren, we have until 2030 to correct it, and the time to act is now.” 

The march on Capitol Hill followed a turbulent night at Georgetown, during which students unaffiliated with GREEN protested the Climate Change Rebuttal hosted by the Georgetown University College Republicans(GUCR). They made posters for the march outside the classroom where the panel was held and interrupted the panelists’ speeches by chanting, demanding for immediate action on climate change. As a result of the heckling, GUPD was called. Meanwhile, students outside the classroom pressed posters up against the glass. 

“The Georgetown College Republicans are hosting an event with a lot of panelists who are professional climate change deniers, and I think it is unacceptable, as do other people who showed up tonight,” said Lucy Chatfield, an organizer of the protest.  “We wanted to make some posters outside the event as a chill way of sharing our message”. 

Dr. Caleb Rossiter, the executive director of the CO2 Coalition, was invited by the GUCR to speak. According to its website, the CO2 Coalition, a non-profit think tank, aims to educate policy makers and the public about how carbon dioxide impacts the economy.  

“I came here to give a talk about electricity in Africa and climate models, and the students were in here and they started yelling and screaming as soon as the first speaker came up,” Rossiter said. “I was a professor at American University for 15 years, and I was appalled at what I am seeing and this behavior here.” 

Image credits: Liliana Cullen

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