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U.S. climate activist group endorses Sanders in presidential race

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activist group, announced on Thursday that it will endorse Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The endorsement could provide Sanders a political boost among a crowded field of Democratic White House hopefuls competing for young and environmentally focused voters in the primary race, while reinforcing criticism among moderates that his proposals are too radical.

The youth movement, founded in 2017 by college students upset that politicians were not doing enough to combat global warming, now claims to have around 10,000 members.

“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,” said Sunrise Movement Executive Director Varshini Prakash in a press release announcing the endorsement.

The Sunrise Movement has been a vocal proponent of a so-called Green New Deal that would decarbonize the U.S. economy within a decade through government-driven investments in clean energy, buildings, transportation, and jobs retraining.

While the plan dovetails neatly with a global scientific consensus that urgent action is needed to avert the worst effects of global warming, President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers call the plan socialist, and labor unions and renewable energy associations also worry here it goes too far.

Sanders said he is “honored to receive their endorsement and look(s) forward to working together to launch the Green New Deal and build a more just and equitable future.”

Other Democratic candidates here have also proposed plans to swiftly move the United States away from fossil fuels, including by banning certain forms of oil and gas drilling.

Republican Trump has consistently downplayed the threat from climate change and rolled back Obama-era climate protections to boost industry.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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