Vermonters Urge Congress and Nation to "Step it Up"

On a chilly November afternoon, hundreds of Vermonters urged Congress to step up their actions to cut carbon emissions by participating in Step It Ups second National Day of Climate Action on Saturday, Nov. 3 in Burlingtons Battery Park. Many of Vermonts elected officialsincluding Congressman Peter Welch, Mayor Bob Kiss, and Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives, Gaye Symingtongave speeches at the event to show their commitment to the organizations goals of cutting carbon emissions 80% by 2050, creating 5 million green jobs, and ensuring that no new coal-fired power plants are built. Step It Ups website, www.stepitup.org, lists 296 other demonstrations that were held nation-wide on Nov. 3, with appearances from presidential candidates John Edwards, Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Bill McKibben, a faculty-in-residence at Middlebury College launched this grassroots movement with the help of Middlebury students in January of this year. On April 14, Step It Up held its first National Day of Climate Action, convening over 1,400 demonstrations across the United States. Shaun Zigman, a lead organizer of Burlingtons second National Day of Climate Action, said that although the event was a screaming success, and that Burlington as a city is out there leading the pack against climate change, he insisted that as a state, Vermont still has a long way to go. He emphasized that representatives of Step It Up Burlington attempted to enlist the support of Governor Jim Douglas and Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie several times by phone, email, letter and in person, but neither would even respond to these solicitudes. Gaye Symington insisted that Vermont citizens need to continue to pressure the Governors office to work more effectively with climate change issues. Be there when the Governor appears in your community, she said. Write letters, call into talk radio. We need your voices speaking to the Governor. Mayor Bob Kiss made sure that everyone at the event knew that the fight against global climate change must be waged not only in the halls of Congress, but also in our own kitchens and living rooms. Part of the effort is for people like you and I here today to make sure that we make those kinds of demands on the legislature and on the Congress, and also in our own lives. The event also served as a forum for uniting the local charge against global climate change, as representatives from 26 local and regional environmental groups and four local restaurants were on hand to show their support for Step It Up and distribute food and information. The music and microphones throughout the day were powered by Gary Beckwith, of Richmond, and his Solar Bus. As the leading national organizers of Step It Up observe, A movement needs to keep moving. To this end, Peter Welch concluded his remarks by saying, Each and every one of us must leave here today with a renewed sense of commitment to turn this environmental agenda around and build a future for our country. Step It Up Burlington meets every Wednesday from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Peace and Justice Center on Church Street in downtown Burlington.

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