Green New Deal Rising -The organization on a mission to empower those who feel silenced

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On Wednesday the 16th of April, I ( Xantippe Steele ) attended the Green New Deal Rising event in Brighton. From independent candidates, to Sussex student activists, the event was pure proof that power lies in intention, not in status. The walls were lined with banners and posters, booming “Solidarity with Palestine”, “Generation Green New Deal”, and “Climate Justice Now”. Whilst newspaper headlines proclaim doomsday, and all of us dread opening our phones to whatever new devastating global event tarnishes the once beautiful future we all envisioned – Green New Deal Rising is a rebirth of hope, activism, and protest. 

I joined Green New Deal Rising a mere few weeks ago. For a long time, like so many of us, I inwardly sighed when climate justice was brought up. From rising sea levels, to animals who once roamed our planet being wiped off, it feels like an impossible fight. It appeared that politicians either didn’t listen, or simply didn’t care. Our money was churned towards pumped up corporations endorsing oil extraction or fossil fuel emission. The battleground we all fought on only grew more bloodied as we saw loss after loss in the climate justice arena. However, upon joining Green New Deal Rising, I have never before been surrounded by so many highly motivated, dedicated, and driven individuals. Green New Deal Rising has set alight the burning passion for climate justice within me, a passion that had previously been quelled by a constant stream of setbacks. 

Until now. 

Green New Deal Rising aims to disempower billionaires and oil executives, whilst empowering young people who are striving for change. They look to elect candidates to parliament who champion climate justice, and push policies through parliament that ensure a more sustainable future. Their plan is to elect Jamie Driscoll as mayor for the North East – Driscoll being a strong advocate for the Green New Deal, to run the largest youth electoral campaign in British history with a cohort of candidates, to make the Green New Deal an election defining issue, and then finally to keep up the pressure for the first 100 days of a new government by holding them to account. They are organised, strategic, and determined to ensure real, proactive, effective change happens in a ten year, game changing plan. Time is running out to save our planet, and Green New Deal Rising is not going down without a fight. 

Will, a national organiser at GNDR, said: “As a young person, I don’t see many politicians taking seriously the problems my generation faces with the ambition to actually fix them and give us hope for the future. But defeat and despair gets us nowhere – young people are getting organised and ready to fight to elect leaders who will represent us and proudly fight for what’s right. Starting with Sian Berry here in Brighton, but this is just the beginning. We need every young person who wants to build something better to join and help us win, door by door, street by street – all the way to finally getting change in Parliament.”

It is hard to be angry at the uprise of the younger generation abstaining from voting. Corrupt politicians, a lack of social housing, higher taxes, and a general mockery of our country has forced people into an angry rage of refusal to engage with politics. Kiri from Green New Deal Rising was the first speaker at the event, and started off with a strong argument as to why we must work in the system in order to change the system. Kiri argued that “We’re still going to have a government. Whether we like it or not. And that government, whatever shape it takes, can either make all the work we do for social change easier, or it can make it a lot harder. Why not have it easier? That is why I came to really believe in the strategy of having Green New Deal Champions –  choosing candidates based on principles and the work they do for those principles of climate, economic, racial, and social justice.”

 

Green New Deal Champions are individual candidates who will fight for a Green New Deal in halls of power. The Green New Deal Champion for Brighton is Siân Berry, who is running to be elected as a new Green MP in Brighton Pavillion in the 2024 General Election. Green New Deal describes Siân Berry on their website as “a powerhouse of climate and social justice campaigning in UK politics. Siân Berry has championed the GND as a London Assembly member, publicly supported our movement’s demands, and knows that our future depends upon tackling the climate and ecological emergency in ways that also respect principles of social justice, racial justice and human rights.” Kiri built on this by saying “I was really impressed by Siân and the work she has done in housing rights, rental rights, and youth services.”

I had the opportunity to interview Kiri after the speakers finished, and Kiri built on her argument for the need for young people to be involved in politics now more than ever by saying “I know that there is so much going on in the world at the moment, we really feel that, it is really hard, and we have to hold space for that. The fact that it is so hard for all of us is a deliberate tool to keep us worn down so that we won’t mobilise… please, if you can, dedicate some of your time to showing up for a social change movement – there are loads of different roles available, you don’t have to be out shouting in the street if that is not for you. Our movement in particular has lots of different (roles) available and they are all equally valued because we know big change only happens when it comes in all our diversity.”

The second speaker after Kiri was Tanushka Marah. Tanushka’s speech was definitely one to raise millions. Tanushka is an independent prospective parliamentary candidate in Hove and Portslade for the 2024 General Election. With power and vigor, Tanushka began by stating “I’m here at the table because of Palestine. When we get to the table, we aren’t there to fix the table, or to sit politely around it, we are there to turn that table upside down. Because it is systemic change that is needed, it’s not enough to fix and neaten what we have. W

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at we have is a genocide enabling, Earth destroying, people oppressing machine that is only there for corporate greed. So the table needs to be flipped upside down. Smashed or burnt, I don’t care.” 

Tanushka is a proud advocate for freeing Palestine, and explained how this is interconnected with the fight for climate justice by saying “I hadn’t seen a mass mobilisation like this in my lifetime for this long…I believe it started with the climate justice marches. So anyone here who was involved in those, thank you and well done.” Tanushka’s arguments solidified my belief that climate justice cannot be assured without a movement for human rights, and liberation for those who have been oppressed. 

Alongside this, Tanushka works with young people in all fields. Tanushka spoke with such hope for the future in which young people have cultivated a world that cares for its people, and cares for its planet. The climate crisis has not just caused an epidemic in the mental health of young people worldwide, but has also worsened an already stiflingly horrific situation. We are all feeling the impending weight of the cost of living, but young people who are just starting out in careers or struggling through the piles of student fees are feeling this economic burden more than ever. Tanushka touched on this by saying “I think the world you are facing is unfair. You should never, ever have had to pay university fees … You should not be leaving university with huge debts, to then give half of your salary to a landlord, where rent is not regulated, where there is very little social housing left… you should not have to have your voices unheard and not represented.”

Tanushka spoke with such determination and power. Ending strong with the statement – “We need young people at the forefront of anything that happens now. I do want to be dramatic and say revolution is needed…it does take the energy of young people to do that, so please do.”

If Tanushka’s arguments resonate with you, you can check out her fundraiser here – https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/tanushka-marah-independent-candidate-hoveportslade

After Tanushka’s speech, Hermione from Green New Deal Rising and Stop L3Harris took the stage. L3Harris is an arms factory in Brighton that manufactures bomb release mechanisms for F35 fighter jets used by Israel to drop bombs on Gaza. Hermione explained how there has been a long history of resistance against L3Harris, from lobbying the council to direct action. You may be wondering how institutions like L3Harris play a part in the climate justice fight, and Hermione answered this question perfectly by saying “Our struggle for climate justice must be a global struggle. It must be a feminist and transfeminist struggle, and it must include fighting for Palestinian liberation … there will be no climate justice without human rights and there will be no climate justice without global justice. We, as climate justice advocates, must continue to stand together, with other members of the global climate movement to call for an immediate ceasefire, and end to the UK government’s complicity in genocide, and do whatever we can to stop our government from allowing the UK to send arms to Israel. We must also shout loudly for a free Palestine.”

But it’s not just the onslaught of violence that plays a part in general efforts for climate justice. Evidence for the intertwining between these two movements can be found in how militarism is devastating not just our planet, but its inhabitants as well. Hermione explained how “it is usually those on the front lines of war and conflict, fueled by the West, who are also on the frontlines of climate impacts. Climate consequences include sea levels rising, droughts, and extreme heat, which are already threatening water supplies and food security in Palestine.”

Hermione ended her eye opening speech with the powerful statement “We cannot look away, we have to keep up the pressure, and show solidarity across our movements however we can. Free Palestine.”

The final speaker at the event was Felix from Divest Borders Sussex, who gave an enlightening speech on the devastation of the border industry. For those who are unaware, Felix explained how the border industry is “a bit of an umbrella term that basically encompasses all the industries who profit – directly or indirectly – from migrants.” The West has long since had an aggressively militant response to migrants – detention centres with inhumane living conditions, children separated from their parents, and individuals being moved into countries without any security or sustainable living. What people might not know is that there is a network of companies ensuring that these conditions are upheld and promoting anti-immigration policies. Felix was able to sum up this profiting industry by saying “the border industry does not exist as a casualty, as something that just happened, the border industry is finance … money goes into politics and politicians – from these companies.”

The fight against the border industry is as much of an uphill battle as that for climate justice. Felix explained how “It goes back to the global justice aspect of this campaign and of climate justice in general – it is really, really hard to pull money out of a system that is greedy and is trying to create even more money out of other people’s oppression.” 

Felix further advocated that all of these issues are interconnected – “the more the war in Gaza continues, and the more the climate crisis worsens, and the more politicians use migrants as scapegoats for the country going in the gutter.” Whilst it may seem like a pile up of disconnected issues are weighing on us, the reality appears to be that a string lies underneath the dirt, tying all forms of oppression together. 

However, you may be pleased to hear that there is hope! Organisations like Divest Borders Sussex are not going down without a fight, and Felix urged everyone to get involved as much as they could – “The more you talk about it, the more people who know about it, and the more people who get involved – that is how we get to have marches on the street, and that is how we get to have change.”

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by everything crushing the headlines that line our iPhones these days. But the reality is, in the words of Kiri, “No one is coming to save us. It’s not fair that we have ended up in this position largely not because of our own actions, but there is only us. There is no one else coming. So it has to start with us, and it starts with you, it really does.”

Green New Deal Rising are on a mission to empower those who feel silenced. They are working to elect a cohort of Green New Deal Champions to Parliament, and more than that – they are promising to ensure that policies that are anti oil extraction, fossil fuel emission, and pro-climate justice are actually put into action. 

Fatima Ibrahim, Co-Director of Green New Deal Rising, said:

“Most young people want pretty simple things: warm homes, jobs that earn a living, and a future that we can look forward to.

“But for years we’ve watched politicians take money out of our communities, leaving so many of us struggling, while they allow big corporations to make huge profits from polluting our rivers and poisoning our air.” 

“At the next General Election, we have a chance to show the power that we have – and demand that politicians take notice. In Brighton, we’re proud to be backing Sian Berry, who stands for the things that matter to us: real action on climate change and the cost of living crisis.

“Young people have always led the way in changing things for the better, and with thousands of us already taking action in our communities, we’re ready to win big, here in Brighton and across the country.”

I want this article to end on a message of hope, resilience, and power. Because those are all the feelings that swelled within me upon leaving the event. However, I’ll leave the final message up to Tanushka, who epitomises these traits in a statement that has resonated with me since leaving. 

“Now is the time to act. If it is not now, when is it? It has to be now. We have to act now. All of us together.”

Written by Xantippe Steele 

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