On January 10, 2020, Michael Bloomberg, a democratic presidential candidate, visited Knoxville to open his new campaign office located downtown.
This was a public event and some audience members were climate activists with the Sunrise Movement. The Sunrise Movement is a national youth-led movement with the goal of stopping climate change and passing the Green New Deal.
When asked if he would endorse the Green New Deal Bloomberg said that it “wouldn’t do anything to combat climate change.”
What is the Green New Deal?
The Green New Deal is a plan introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) The Green New Deal plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also addressing economic inequality and other societal issues.
The Green New Deal’s goals include repairing the infrastructure in the United States, meeting 100% of the power demand in the United States through zero-emission energy sources and building resiliency against climate change-related disasters by funding and providing investments for community-defined projects.
The Green New Deal bill also discusses the possible threats climate change can bring.
Some examples include, “a changing climate is causing sea levels to rise and an increase in wildfires, severe storms, droughts, and other extreme weather events that threaten human life, healthy communities, and critical infrastructure,“ and “more than 350,000,000 more people to be exposed globally to deadly heat stress by 2050.”
Who is Michael Bloomberg?
Michael Bloomberg is a democratic 2020 presidential candidate. He was previously the New York City mayor and has advocated for things like climate change, an economy that is “all-in” and gun safety.
Bloomberg is the first democratic presidential candidate to visit Knoxville since 2004.
“It’s part of the country that nobody goes and visits,” Bloomberg said when asked by WVLT News Reporter Justin McDuffie on why he decided to visit Knoxville.
“It’s a place where people have the old line of American values of family, and they know their neighbors and they respect each other,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg has helped replace U.S. coal-fired power plants with clean energy, protested President Trump’s decision of pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement and aided in reducing New York City’s carbon footprint by 14% with a “comprehensive urban sustainability plan.”
However, Bloomberg told activists in Knoxville that he would not support the Green New Deal.
Bloomberg’s changing stances
“This encounter shows that Mayor Bloomberg is out of touch with what the Green New Deal proposes,” Logan Hysen, the spokesperson for the Sunrise Movement Knoxville, said. “We respect his work to curb carbon emissions in New York, but at the end of the day the Green New Deal shows us the best roadmap to making an equitable transition to 100%- renewable energy within the next ten years, which you see on this page.”
Despite criticizing the Green New Deal as politically unrealistic in the past, according to the Washington Post, Bloomberg has previously stated that he is a supporter of the Green New Deal.
“I support the climate goals of the Green New Deal resolution. Unfortunately, the Republican Senate is blocking action on climate, but as president I will take immediate and ambitious steps to combat climate change, beginning on my first day in office,” Bloomberg said.
Although there are conflicting reports of if Bloomberg does really support the Green New Deal, members of the Sunrise Movement Knoxville have shown disappointment in his plans to combat climate change.
“Mayor Bloomberg showed us that he doesn’t understand the strength and importance of the Green New Deal,” Paige Lowe, an organizer with the Sunrise Movement Knoxville said. “He acknowledged the imminent threat of the climate crisis, yet he proposed short term solutions that would only scratch at the surface of what’s necessary. Driving fuel-efficient cars is fantastic, but it is not enough. The Green New Deal is absolutely vital if we want to see a livable future.”
Edited by Christian Knox and Grace Goodacre
Featured image courtesy of The Sunrise Movement press release