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← Why I protest for climate justice

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Showing Revision 9 created 12/11/2019 by Erin Gregory.

  1. Pat Mitchell: It's so great
    to see you, my friend.
  2. Jane Fonda: Hi Pat.
    It's great to be with you.

  3. PM: Jane, for the ones who may not
    have seen the extraordinary coverage

  4. around the world
  5. of Fire Drill Fridays
  6. and the impact that they have already had,
  7. talk to us about the origin of this idea,
  8. this particular response
    to the climate crisis.
  9. JF: I was very inspired by Greta Thunberg,
    the Swedish student,

  10. and by the young school climate strikers.
  11. Greta says we've got to get
    out of our comfort zone.
  12. We have to behave
    like our house is burning,
  13. because it is.
  14. And so she really struck a chord in me.
  15. And then, learning that just about
    100 percent of climate scientists agree.
  16. They agree that a drastic
    emergency is upon us,
  17. that it is human-caused.
  18. But they said
  19. we can do something about it.
  20. We have the time, the technology,
  21. the tools.
  22. We have everything we need
    except political will
  23. to meet the challenge,
  24. and it's an enormous challenge.
  25. We have 11 years, many say, a decade,
  26. and I thought,
  27. "Oh, I'm so lucky
    that I am healthy and living
  28. in a decade where we who are alive
    can actually make the difference.
  29. We can make the difference
  30. as to whether there's going
    to be a livable future or not.
  31. What a glorious responsibility we have.
  32. We have to step up to the plate."
  33. And when you're famous,

  34. there's a lot of things that you can do.
  35. You have a bigger platform.
  36. So I decided that, like Greta,
  37. I was going to put my body on the line
  38. and move to the center
    of American power, Washington, DC,
  39. and have a rally every Friday
    like the students do.
  40. And we work with the students.
  41. They speak at my rallies,
    and I speak at their rallies.
  42. And then after we speak,
  43. we engage in civil disobedience
    and risk getting arrested.
  44. Civil disobedience is a powerful tool
  45. that has changed history many times,
  46. both in the United States in the '60s
    during the civil rights movement,
  47. of course in India with Mahatma Gandhi.
  48. And I didn't know in the beginning
    if it was going to work or not,
  49. but it's made me very happy
    to see what's happening.
  50. PM: It's also led
    to your being arrested --

  51. multiple times, actually,
  52. spending at least a night or two
    in Washington, DC jails.
  53. And while all of us, I think, recognize
    the emergency and the actions
  54. that you so kindly mentioned
    others have taken,
  55. I'm not sure that we
    would put our bodies at risk,
  56. our lives, our careers
  57. and our lives on hold,
  58. as you have done.
  59. Do you have any concerns
    about that at this point?
  60. JF: Well, I realize that not everybody
    can leave work and go

  61. and do what I'm doing.
  62. But I must say that
    requests are pouring in,
  63. not only from around the United States
  64. but from other countries,
  65. people who want
    to start Fire Drill Fridays.
  66. And the people who are coming
    and getting arrested with me
  67. and engaging with civil disobedience,
  68. many of them have never done it before,
  69. and they find it to be transformative.
  70. But the fact is that there are
    so many things that people can do,
  71. starting with talking about it,
  72. expressing how you feel about it
    and talking about it,
  73. even when it's uncomfortable.
  74. At a holiday dinner table
  75. and maybe Uncle Bob doesn't agree,
  76. but, you know, maybe Uncle Bob
    is worried about his grandkids,
  77. maybe he loves birds.
  78. There's always a way in with people
  79. to get them to feel concerned
    about the climate crisis.
  80. Of course, voting is very, very important,
  81. and we have to vote for the people
    that are the bravest,
  82. the boldest of our elected officials,
  83. because the task ahead of us --
  84. all over the world, but certainly
    here in the United States --
  85. we have to get rid
    of this current administration,
  86. and we have to elect people
    that are really brave,
  87. that will step up --
  88. (Applause)

  89. and do the bold actions that are needed,
    the way Franklin Delano Roosevelt did

  90. during the 1930s,
    during the Great Depression,
  91. when he really changed
    a great deal about American society.
  92. And that's what is needed now.
  93. PM: So Jane, we should also explain,

  94. because many people who are here
    are thinking, what can they do?
  95. Can they come to Washington
    and join you in this action?
  96. We should explain, not everyone
    who participates in Fire Drill Fridays
  97. is under threat of being arrested.
  98. There are other parts
    of what you're doing,
  99. like you are currently
    in the Greenpeace offices in Washington.
  100. So explain what else
    is a part of Fire Drill Fridays
  101. and how we could participate
    in civil disobedience
  102. without the risk of getting arrested.
  103. JF: First of all, you want to try
    not do anything as a lone individual.

  104. You know, it's by our powers combined.
  105. There's strength in numbers.
  106. There's also community in numbers,
  107. and one of the hardest things
    about what we're facing now is:
  108. this is a collective crisis,
  109. coming at a time when
    the whole notion of the collective,
  110. of the commons, of the public sphere,
  111. is being eroded quite deliberately
    by neoliberalism and conservatism.
  112. And so reconnecting with groups of people,
  113. like-minded people in a common action,
  114. is solace to the soul.
  115. It gives you such strength.
    It's a great antidote to depression.
  116. So find out what organizations
  117. that are concerned about
    the climate crisis are in your area.
  118. Of course, Greenpeace has chapters
    all around the world.
  119. And even if you just start yourself,
    have house parties,
  120. invite people over
    to talk about what's happening.
  121. Find an article that you can all read
    and discuss together.
  122. Obviously, if there's
    a climate action where you live,
  123. try to join it.
  124. It's not necessary
    to engage in civil disobedience
  125. and risk getting arrested,
  126. but it is going to become
    the new normal, I think.
  127. It feels like it is here in DC
    with Fire Drill Fridays.
  128. People seem to want
    to come back and do it again.
  129. My grandkids just
    got arrested last weekend.
  130. It was a transformative experience.
  131. (Laughter)

  132. My fellow actor Sam Waterston,
    who is a self-described centrist,

  133. he had never spoken at a rally
    or risked getting arrested,
  134. and he was arrested with me.
  135. Last week, I see that he was arrested
    at the Harvard-Yale game.
  136. He sent me a picture
    of himself in handcuffs,
  137. saying, "Now look what you started!"
  138. (Laughter)

  139. You know, we're at a point,
    I think, in this crisis

  140. where people are looking
    to take the next step.
  141. They want to put their bodies on the line,
  142. as Greta Thunberg has exhorted us to do.
  143. And they find it very rewarding,
  144. and they want to do it again.
  145. So I think that this is good,
    what we're doing.
  146. I met with the Senate [Climate Change
    Task Force] a few weeks ago,
  147. and I asked the senators,
  148. "Is there something else
    we should be doing?
  149. Should we be doing more?"
  150. And Senator Ed Markey said to me,
  151. "You're building an army.
    That's what we need.
  152. Make it bigger.
  153. We need pressure from the outside."
  154. And I think that's true
    all over the world.
  155. People need to be amassing
    armies for the climate,
  156. armies for the environment,
  157. in the streets,
  158. shutting down governments if necessary.
  159. I'm thinking of Brazil right now.
  160. You know, we can't allow
    the burning of our precious rainforests.
  161. PM: And as you have done
    so many times in the past, Jane,

  162. you are leading these changes.
  163. Eventually, one assumes, especially
    the fans of "Grace and Frankie,"
  164. that you will go back to your life
  165. and resume that program.
  166. But will Fire Drill Fridays continue?
  167. JF: Well, there's been
    such an interest in it,

  168. as I said, from all around the country,
  169. people asking if they can start one.
  170. And, you know, I have
    a lot of celebrity friends
  171. who haven't, for scheduling reasons,
    been able to come to DC,
  172. so we're thinking about
    maybe doing it in Los Angeles.
  173. But I just want to correct one thing:
  174. I'm not leading.
  175. It's the young people,
    it's the students that are leading.
  176. It's always the young people
    that step up with the courage,
  177. and it's pretty amazing,
    because they're risking a lot.
  178. It's pretty brave to take
    a Friday off from school.
  179. You could get bad grades.
    You could make your teachers mad.
  180. But they're doing it anyway.
  181. There have been millions of them
    at a time, all around the world.
  182. And they're saying,
  183. "Don't let us have to deal
    with this by ourselves.
  184. We didn't create this problem.
    Come and help us."
  185. So, Grandmas unite!
  186. (Laughter)

  187. (Applause)

  188. PM: And you are in a city
    that is probably more divided

  189. than it has been in a very long time.
  190. The polarities that exist there
  191. and in many other places around the world
  192. have kept our collective strength
    from being unified and used,
  193. and in that way, you have been leading us.
  194. What would success look like to you
    from Fire Drill Fridays?
  195. JF: Well, I can just speak
    as a citizen of the United States.

  196. Success would look like
  197. every state stops
    all new fossil fuel expansion,
  198. because if they keep drilling
    and fracking and mining,
  199. the problem will just get worse,
  200. so that no matter what
    we do with windmills
  201. and solar collectors and so forth,
  202. we'll never be able to catch up.
  203. We have to stop all new expansion.
  204. The other thing is,
  205. they would phase out
    fossil fuel emissions gradually,
  206. making sure that the workers
    who would be impacted
  207. would be retrained at union wages
  208. and get good new union jobs.
  209. There are going to be so many good jobs
    with the Green New Deal,
  210. building windmills and solar collectors,
  211. retrofitting all the houses
    in this country, for example,
  212. laying a new energy grid.
  213. There's tens of millions of jobs
    waiting to be unleashed,
  214. and that's the other thing
    that has gotten me mobilized.
  215. A Green New Deal is a framework
    for how to take ourselves into the future

  216. in a way that's sustainable and equitable.
  217. So that just gives you such hope,
  218. because if we do it right,
    it's going to be a win-win for everyone.
  219. And that has to be the case,
    or it won't work,
  220. because to make this work,
    everybody's going to have to be involved.
  221. And in order for everybody to be involved,
  222. they have to see something
    in it for themselves,
  223. and that's what a Green New Deal does.
  224. PM: Jane, you, as always --

  225. (Applause)

  226. as you have done
    so many times in your life,

  227. you have taken risk,
  228. and you have stepped up
    to the front lines.
  229. Do you leave this experience
    with any new learning
  230. or a new level of commitment,
    hope or optimism?
  231. JF: Yeah, I am optimistic.

  232. People in this country are really scared
    about the climate crisis,
  233. and they want to do something,
    but nobody has asked them.
  234. We just have to ask them.
  235. We have to get organized, you know?
  236. And we can do that.
  237. So I feel very hopeful.
  238. I must say that I am going to go
    back to work on "Grace and Frankie,"
  239. but part of my heart
    is going to be with Fire Drill Fridays,
  240. and I hope I can continue with that.
  241. I just think that we do
    have to build an army.
  242. This coming year is the critical year.
  243. What happens is going to be so important.
  244. So we have to be sure,
  245. especially someone who's healthy,
  246. who feels relatively young,
  247. who has a platform --
  248. we have to use it
    in every possible way we can.
  249. And if I didn't have that,
  250. then I would find other little ways
    that I could do it:
  251. talk to my neighbors, talk to my friends,
  252. talk to my family,
  253. join an organization.
  254. That's how, also, as I've said,
    to stave off depression,
  255. is to do something active.
  256. PM: Jane, at 81, you are modeling
    what that can be like for sure,

  257. and I think we just recruited a new army.
  258. (Applause)

  259. Thank you very much, my friend.

  260. Stay safe.
  261. Thank you for all that you have done
    for the planet and so much else.
  262. JF: Thank you, Pat.

  263. PM: Join me in thanking Jane.

  264. (Applause)