Friday’s youth-led global climate strikes will include political star power at some Iowa rallies.
2020 Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders will speak tomorrow morning at the Iowa Climate Strike in Des Moines outside the Capitol building. U.S. Senate candidate Kimberly Graham and Linn County Supervisor Stacy Walker will join local Sunrise Movement members in Cedar Rapids that evening.
Sanders’ appearance comes after his endorsement on Monday from Iowa CCI, a progressive organization in the state, while Graham received her endorsement from the Sunrise Movement’s Cedar Rapids hub in late November.
“Sen. Bernie Sanders has expanded his trip to Iowa on December 5, 6, 7 and 8, and will speak at the Youth Climate Strike and hold a canvass launch at Iowa CCI Action headquarters in Des Moines on Friday,” said an email from Sanders’ campaign. “Sanders last month met with Iowa youth climate strikers at the Bernie 2020 Climate Crisis Summit hosted with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Des Moines.”
After speaking at the Capitol around 10:30 a.m., Sanders will go on to host or participate in six additional events in the state through Sunday, including the Iowa Farmers Union Presidential Forum on Friday and the Farmer and Rural Economy Town Hall in Iowa Falls on Saturday.
The Cedar Rapids events will begin in the morning when youth from Sunrise Movement Cedar Rapids will also go to the city’s school district office to discuss a potential reduction in their fleet of vehicles.
“They’re going to start a presence and conversation with them. If they change their practices, they can impact emissions quite a bit,” said organizer Jason Snell. “We think the school board will be receptive, but this is a way to let our presence be known. And that’s something that’s worked well so far with the city council.”
The Linn County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday passed a resolution declaring a climate crisis caused by increased drought and heatwaves, flooding throughout Iowa and a decrease in the bird population.
“It’s hard for them to ignore us when we start the conversation,” Snell said.
Strikers will later gather at 5:15 p.m. at Raygun in Newbo, where they will be joined by Graham, Walker and Ayla Boylen, who started the Cedar Rapids climate strikes after becoming inspired by the 16-year-old climate leader Greta Thunberg-led strike in Iowa City earlier this year.
The Sunrise Movement endorsed Graham, Snell said, after the organization went through an endorsement process by sending out surveys, including a Green New Deal pledge and a pledge to stop fossil fuel use.
Graham, Michael Franken, Theresa Greenfield and Eddie Mauro are running in the Democratic primary in hopes of taking current Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s seat. Only three of the five candidates agreed to sign Sunrise’s pledges.
The organization then took a vote amongst their core 15 members who unanimously voted for Graham.
“We endorsed Kimberly and we reached out to her as we were planning our climate strike. It’s part of the national sunrise climate strike day of action; we thought she’d be a great person to speak,” Snell said.
In early October, Theresa Greenfield earned the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, described by the climate action group as a candidate “committed to investing in the Hawkeye State’s clean energy economy.”
“I look forward to being a senator for Iowa who supports climate action and understands the importance of protecting our environment,” Greenfield said of the endorsement.
A number of other climate strikes will happen Friday around the state, including a rally in Iowa City. Millions are expected to rally nationwide to promote widespread climate action.
Isha Kalia, a youth climate activist and senior at Linn Marr High School in Marion, said she’s also been promoting the day.
“We had a meeting for the climate club that we started and we sort of advertised the strike there,” Kalia said. “I’ve been sharing the info with my friends and sharing it on social media, so I’m trying to promote it as much as I can and as best I can so we can get a good amount of representation at the strike.”
By Isabella Murray