The University of Memphis hosted the 16th annual Environmental Justice Conference in the UC Theatre Room on Oct. 5 where Steve Cohen, the U.S. representative from Tennessee’s 9th district, spoke about climate change and other issues.
The conference sponsored and advocated for the enactment of the Green New Deal, proposed by the Democratic Party, and its passage would address climate and economic inequality throughout the United States.
Cohen’s speech was just one of many events that took place from 9 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. as advocates for climate change from Memphis stressed to those in attendance the significance of the changing environment. Cohen expressed his thoughts concerning climate change and made statements about President Donald Trump.
“Barack Obama and Al Gore went over to France and orchestrated the Paris Climate Agreement,” Cohen said. “Lots of people care about the environment. However, Trump doesn’t care – rich and greedy Republicans don’t care.”
Among those who share Cohen’s view is Tennessee Republican senator Lamar Alexander, who recently proposed an ambitious response to climate change. Lamar’s proposal highlights carbon capture, nuclear energy and electrical vehicles. Despite Lamar’s proposal, Cohen said the issue of environmental safety and reformation is not just a Democratic vs. Republican issue.
“We’re not getting rid of airports or FedEx anytime soon, and as a result the climate may not change unless we spread the news to as many people as we can,” Cohen said. “There are European countries, specifically Denmark, that are well ahead of the United States when it comes to reducing their reliance on non-renewable sources.”
Cohen said the United States should use their resources to ensure the future of the environment. As a member of Congress, he emphasized protecting the earth for future generations.
“The Green New Deal is something that should be passed into law to ensure the safety of the future generations that inhabit the earth, but there are members of the Republican Party that fail to see that,” Cohen said.
Cohen has strong opinions about the possibility of Trump being impeached. He said should Trump be forced to resign, the country will be better off with a Democratic president.
“With a Democratic president, whoever he or she is, the country will be able to do more for the environment,” Cohen said.
Environmental activist Jojo Sigala works with the Sierra Club, a group advocating for environmental justice in Memphis. Sigala is heavily involved with the Sierra Club’s lobbying efforts to Congress for environmental change.
Sigala contributed to the writing of the Green New Deal and said she wants people to know about the seriousness of maintaining a clean environment.
“The Sierra Club has partnered with other environmental organizations to further make sure environmental safety remains a priority,” Sigala said.