Pointing to his decades-long commitment to fighting the climate crisis and embrace of a sweeping transformation of the American energy system and economy through a Green New Deal, the youth-led Sunrise Movement on Thursday endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for president of the United States.

“We believe a Bernie Sanders presidency would provide the best political terrain in which to engage in and ultimately win that struggle for the world we deserve,” said Varshini Prakash, founder and the executive director of Sunrise, which has played a leading role in pushing the Green New Deal into the mainstream political conversation and pressuring lawmakers to commit to bold action.

“Senator Sanders has made it clear throughout his political career and in this campaign that he grasps the scale of the climate crisis, the urgency with which we must act to address it, and the opportunity we have in coming together to do so,” Prakash added.

The endorsement comes after a landslide vote by members in favor of endorsing the Vermont senator, who last year proposed what has been hailed as the most ambitious Green New Deal proposal put forth any 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. In an email to supporters, Sunrise said more than 75 percent of voting members chose Sanders as their first choice for president.

In a video posted to Twitter Thursday, Prakash said the U.S. needs “a president who understands the immediate threat” of the climate crisis.

“Bernie Sanders is that guy,” said Prakash. “He understands that this isn’t just about a conversation happening in Washington. This is about changing the lives of millions of working people.”

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In a Medium post, Sunrise outlined some of the key reasons Sunrise members cited in voting to endorse Sanders:

  • His consistency. Senator Sanders has been calling the climate crisis “the most important issue facing civilization” since the 1980s, and he’s stood alongside movements fighting it since then, too. In the 2016 election, Sanders was mocked by pundits for stating in a Democratic Debate that climate change represented the United States’ greatest geopolitical threat. Now, that position is widely held.
  • His responsiveness to social movements and new information. Senator Sanders already had a strong climate plan in his 2016 campaign, and has long led the Senate in introducing ambitious climate legislation. But in response to increased scientific urgency and warnings, and pressure from social movements, Bernie leaned fully into the Green New Deal and released the biggest, boldest plan for a federal government led mobilization to save the planet we have ever seen.
  • His political courage. More than any other major political figure in our lifetimes, we’ve seen Senator Sanders lead in taking positions that he believed were right and fighting for them. The positions he’s taken in the 2020 election draw from deep moral convictions promoted over decades of his career. From his days as a civil rights activist, to the countless pickets and strikes he has joined, to standing with the Standing Rock Sioux, Bernie shows up time and time again.
  • His holistic vision of the future. The Green New Deal is a governing agenda and new social contract for the 21st century that says that no matter who you are, where you were born, or the color of your skin, you have a right to clean air and water, healthy food, housing, healthcare, education, a good job, and a livable future. Our generation believes in and deserves that future, and Senator Sanders—through his stances on immigration, healthcare, racial justice, inequality, environmental justice, democracy, and more—has shown he understands the interconnectedness of these issues and is fighting for that, too.
  • His commitment to building a cross-class, multi-racial movement. The transformative change we seek requires taking on the world’s most powerful and moneyed interests. Change on this scale with opposition that entrenched cannot be won easily. Senator Sanders has repeatedly claimed that, as President, he would be the “organizer-in-chief.” We hope we’ll get the opportunity to hold him accountable to that. Put simply: to win a Green New Deal, we need nothing short of a political revolution.

“We are excited to be joining the movement to make Bernie Sanders the Democratic nominee for president,” Sunrise said. “We believe he can win the nomination, defeat Donald Trump in November, and usher in down-ballot victories that will help jump-start the political revolution.”

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