New Sunrise Coeur d’Alene to hold first meeting Friday

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LOREN BENOIT/Press Sunrise Coeur d’Alene is a new group forming in North Idaho to support climate change leadership. The group is having its first meeting Friday evening and all are welcome. From left: Orenda Peterson, Andrew Borg and Josh McLoughlin.

COEUR d’ALENE — A new group is rising up in North Idaho to support climate change leadership and get fossil fuel money out of politics.

"We have 12 years to switch from what we're doing right now to completely renewable energy," said Coeur d'Alene mom Orenda Peterson. "Climate change is a real tragedy. People are going to be underwater. It's already happening right now. Devastating forest fires, catastrophic events are going to happen. It's an urgent, urgent, urgent matter."

Peterson, 41, Josh McLaughlin, 31, of Coeur d'Alene and Andrew Borg, 25, of Spokane, have banded together to create Sunrise Coeur d'Alene, the local hub of the national youth-led Sunrise Movement, which is aimed at stopping climate change and creating millions of jobs in the process.

"The thing about the climate change issue is that it surpasses your partisan borders," McLaughlin said. "It’s a human issue, so it really doesn’t depend on what side you might side with. It really depends on whether you consider it real, first off, and whether you consider it a threat. The truth is, it is a threat, and we have enormous amounts of data to back it up.

"People, working class people, are directly affected by this stuff every day."

One of the Sunrise Movement's goals is to support the Green New Deal, a proposed plan to strategize how to move America forward with climate change at the forefront.

"The Green New Deal is taking almost step by step the instructions from that (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report," McLaughlin said. "It took that report, which is completely put together by thousands of scientists, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is kind of the spearhead of the Green New Deal. She saw that and went, ‘OK, let’s do what science says.'"

Sunrise Coeur d'Alene will have its first meeting at Calypsos Coffee and Creamery at 7 p.m. Friday.

"We'll just be introducing people to the movement, telling them what we're about, and that's our game plan," Borg said.

McLaughlin said through his interactions with young people in Coeur d'Alene, he knows there’s a strong interest for a Sunrise hub in the area.

"Sunrise Movement is a national-led thing. They're gaining a ton of notoriety nationwide," he said. "This is new to Coeur d'Alene and this area, but it's not new to the country."

The Sunrise trio realize they have a lot of work to do, but they're encouraged and feel a calling to bring attention to this issue, bring their community together and hold their legislators accountable.

"It's up to us to educate rather than isolate," McLaughlin said. "Right now, we have a really big problem in the country and there's such a divisiveness and literally everyone is tired of it."

"There's really not any time left," Borg said. "Climate change is going to be an issue that affects Coeur d'Alene, that affects Spokane, affects this whole area, regardless if we do anything or not. We're already out of time, so we're just trying to do the best we can with the time we have. Any 10th of a degree of warming that we can prevent is going to be dramatically impactful on our future and future generations."

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