July Washington Office Update

The month of July has been quite busy at the MCC Washington Office. This has been a tumultuous summer politically in the United States and abroad, but the resilience and strength of the MCC staff is refreshing to be around and inspires me to continue my own advocacy work.

The Washington office celebrated its 50th anniversary this summer, and on July 17th there was a large celebration dinner. Various constituents and former employees attended, and Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) made a brief appearance as well. It was an unforgettable night, and I was fortunate enough to meet Ray Martin, whose kind donation allowed for the creation of the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions and provided funding for my internship. I appreciated having the opportunity to discuss my work and thank him in person for his contributions.

A photo of the Zero Hour Climate March on the National Mall. Photo by Whitney Ricker.

One of the most powerful experiences of my summer was attending the Zero Hour Youth Climate March, on July 21st. Similar to the March for Our Lives earlier this year, this event (among other simultaneous marches on the same day) was organized by high school students from around the country who are passionate about making a change. The day may have been dreary and rainy, but spirits were high and the few hundred people who attended were a passionate bunch. Things kicked off with a two hour rally, featuring young speakers, musicians, and poets who discussed various topics including indigenous injustices and water rights. A standout was 7-year-old Havana Edwards, the daughter of U.S. diplomats, who spoke about how she personally saw climate change impacting other children from around the world, and how the youth are tasked with making positive changes. Another personal favorite of mine was Indigenous rapper, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, an 18-year-old of Aztec descent, who uses his music to advocate for environmental justice. After the rally, the activists marched from the National Mall, walked past the Capitol Building, and ended in central D.C.’s Lincoln Park. It was amazing to see how passionate the fellow attendees were, and to see young people stepping up and making their voices be heard.

On the political side of things, I have finally seen some legislation related to climate change on the Hill. A piece of legislation (H. Con. Res. 119) entitled, “Expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the American economy” passed on July 21st with a 229 to 180 vote. Six Republicans voted against the measure, an increase in bipartisan support as compared to similar votes in the past, many of which had unanimous Republican support. It may be a small step, but it does show that leaders from both sides of the aisle are realizing the severity of our situation and may be open to considering mitigation strategies. Carbon taxes will likely not be implemented any time soon, but other less polarizing alternatives could see even greater bipartisan support. This measure has been especially relevant for my work, as I have been creating a resource on a carbon taxes throughout the summer, which will hopefully be published in the near future.

I have also continued to work with my fellow intern, Katie, on growing our network of Mennonite congregations who want to become more environmentally sustainable and advocate for climate change mitigation. One major step I took was creating an election resource that deals with climate change policy, and am hoping to create an expanded online version in the coming weeks. While the current administration works to repeal environmental regulations and advocate for big corporations, I and CSCS will continue to do our best to advocate for climate justice and environmental sustainability on behalf of the Anabaptist community.

If you or your church are interested in learning more about sustainability and/or climate change advocacy, please email me at whitney.ricker@emu.edu.

  Article by Whitney Ricker, Climate Advocacy Intern, CSCS

The Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions (CSCS) is a collaborative effort of Eastern Mennonite University, Goshen College, and Mennonite Central Committee. CSCS advances thinking and action in Anabaptist and other faith communities to mitigate climate change. Our goal is to make climate change the moral equivalent of war and violence in the Anabaptist community and to change hearts and minds around climate change in the church. 

You can learn more about the Center here.

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