The Climate Crisis and the Sunrise Movement at Annual Sessions

Annual Sessions

On Thursday at Annual Sessions we will be joined by Abigail Leedy, a recent graduate of Philadelphia’s Central High and an attender at Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. Before going to college, she’s taking a “gap year” to work full time as a trainer for the Sunrise Movement, a national, youth-led climate justice organization that is building a movement of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.

Abby will spend the morning with high school Young Friends, and have a session with them in the early afternoon to which Young Adult Friends will also be invited.

At dinnertime on Thursday, there will be a designated “Sunrise” table where Friends can meet Abby and talk with her about what led her to join the Movement, and its strategies for promoting a Green New Deal and climate justice in our communities and nation.
Please join us if you’re interested.

And please consider coming to Friday’s workshop on The Climate Crisis, Economic Justice, and Integrity, that will feature discussions of these issues in inter-generational trios.


Some background

Last October, the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told us there were only twelve years (now closer to eleven) to keep global warming from causing severe droughts, storms, floods, extreme heat, and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. And in March, the President of the UN General Assembly warned us that “we are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet.”
In the 1990s, when our Yearly Meeting was a strong supporter of the National Religious Partnership’s campaign to educate our nation’s faith communities about climate change, we were told that this day would come if our nation continued with business as usual, and it has.

We need to acknowledge our Yearly Meeting’s efforts, largely through FCNL, to prevent the kind of climate disruption we are already experiencing. But now we find ourselves in a serous predicament, because the idea of embarking on Green New Deal seems so politically naïve, but so socially, scientifically, and technologically essential.

And our Yearly Meeting needs to ask: Have we as a body been able to absorb the meaning of what our climate scientists have told us? Have we asked ourselves what we must do?

Abby has already asked herself these questions and answers them in this way: “We believe climate change is an urgent, intersectional issue of social justice, and we need a Green New Deal – a massive, 10 year mobilization to create the change that science and justice demand. We need to make the United States carbon-neutral by 2030, to provide a good, union job to any American that needs one, and to address the historic disparities faced by marginalized communities in the climate crisis.
I’ll be traveling in Pennsylvania and around the Northeast to train young people in concrete skills to grow their power, organize independently, and make a Green New Deal and climate justice a reality in their communities.

Growing up in a progressive Episcopal Church, I was taught that all people were equal in God’s eyes, and that we were all loved equally and ought to be treated as such. As a young, upper middle class white woman going to high school in North Philadelphia, I saw that my classmates of color and from working class families were treated differently, came from different neighborhoods, and had different opportunities than I did.
I saw there were more trees, cleaner air, more grocery stores and healthy foods in my white, middle class neighborhood than in my friends’ working class neighborhoods of color. I saw that dangerous fossil fuel facilities, especially gas plants, were already built and continue to be proposed in working class communities of color, while there were no plans to create any such facilities where they would hurt middle class white folks like myself.
I started attending Meeting for Worship the summer before my senior year of high school because I believe there is that of God in all of us, and that we are all equally worthy and deserving of love. I joined Sunrise because I see my faith embodied in their work and mission.”