(CNSNews.com) – Democrat lawmakers have invited 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg to testify before a joint House hearing on Wednesday on the “global climate crisis.”
Thunberg, who has won plaudits around the world for her “school strike for climate” campaign, is due to appear together with three young Americans before a joint hearing of the new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee dealing with energy and environmental issues.
Their respective chairmen, Reps. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and Bill Keating (D-Mass.), have entitled their hearing, “Voices Leading the Next Generation on the Global Climate Crisis.”
Thunberg arrived in New York City late last month after crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a “zero-carbon” yacht – she opposes air travel because of carbon emissions – to take part in a U.N. climate summit this month, and other activities.
This Friday, demonstrations are expected across the U.S. and around the world led by young people inspired by her activism. Two previous events this year, in March and May, attracted more than a million students, and organizers predict this month’s will be “the largest mass mobilization for climate action in human history.”
This won’t be the first time Thunberg speaks to national lawmakers. She delivered a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in April, and another to members of parliament in London the same month.
When she was invited by a cross-party group of legislators to address the French National Assembly in July, some conservatives called for a boycott of an activist one dismissed scornfully as “a prophetess in short pants” and the “Justin Bieber of ecology.”
Responding to critics, Thunberg said in that speech that campaigners like herself have become “the bad guys” for saying “uncomfortable things” about climate change – “because no one else wants to or dares to.”
“Maybe you are simply not mature enough to tell it like it is,” she said, citing assertions contained in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports. “Because even that burden you leave to us children.”
Together with Thunberg, this week’s scheduled hearing will feature three Americans – 17-year-old Jamie Margolin, co-founder of a youth climate organization called This is Zero Hour; 20-year-old Vic Barrett, a fellow with the Alliance for Climate Education; and 21-year-old Benji Backer, president of the American Conservation Coalition, a nonprofit that aims to engage conservatives on the climate issue.
“Young voices, regardless of political ideology, have made fighting climate change a priority across the world,” Backer said in a statement, voicing the hope that the hearing would provide “the opportunity to share free-market policies to address climate change.”
“We’re at the point where an entire generation has grown up in the climate crisis,” said Castor, who chairs the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. “They know the science, they know the stakes and they know how to rise to the challenge. We need to rise with them.”
The select committee was established early this year by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who called climate change “the existential threat of our time,” and said that it “jeopardizes our public health, our economy, our national security and the whole of God’s creation.”
The panel comprises nine Democrats and six Republicans, and has held eight hearings to date.
In March, Castor introduced a bill seeking to prevent President Trump from withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. (The administration lodged formal notification in August 2017 of its intention to pull out of the agreement, but the actual withdrawal process takes at least three years.)
The House passed her Climate Action Now Act by 231 votes to 190 in May, with only three Republicans voting in support – Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) and Elise Stefanik (N.Y.). All six Republicans on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis voted “no.”
The bill is now before the U.S. Senate.