We are excited to announce that we are joining our friends in China and India in a race for clean energy! This friendly competition will allow students and young people to support one another in driving our countries, and the world towards clean energy solutions.
This Earth Day I was torn between excitement and disappointment. With thousands of people convening at the World People's Conference on Climate Change in Bolivia and hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall for a Climate Rally I could see the movement out in force calling for bold change. But then the news broke that Senator Lindsey Graham was further delaying his long-awaited climate bill. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not particularly excited about the bill, it’s woefully inadequate. But the further delay speaks to how the urgency and science are not aligning with the politics. We need to drastically reshape the political landscape of this country through innovation new tactics and visionary youth leadership that pushes what I like to call the politics of possibility.
It is time for our government to match the compassion and leadership that young people are demonstrating on our campuses and in our communities. We have been making progress, but it’s not enough. Let’s look to Senator Lindsey Graham as a prime example. Though he is waffling now, he credits young people for bringing him to climate consciousness, when he told the New York Times in February; "I have been to enough college campuses to know if you are 30 or younger this climate issue is not a debate. It's a value." He is feeling the popular pressure but still isn’t listening to the details of our message. So youth in South Carolina and around the country are responding:
Some members of the Energy Action Coalition are spending this Earth Day in Cochabamba, Bolivia at the first ever World People's conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth April 19-22. Youth leaders are joining over 15,000 delegates from 126 countries. Bolivian President Evo Morales, the first Indigenous president of the Latin American Country, and thought that this conference would be extremely important to make sure the people of the world were heard before the United Nations Climate Negotiations in Cancun, Mexico in December.
The conference will bring people from around the world together to discuss real solutions and tactics for improving future United Nations climate negotiations. Members of the United States Environmental Justice Delegation will discuss domestic climate change issues on a number of panels during the conference and offer live-feed reports of the conference through community forums and organizational websites.
Here is an interview with Ian Viteri, youth environmental justice leader and Clean Power organizer with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization based in Chicago, Illinois. The great bloggers at justicenecology.posterous.com caught up with Ian right before going to see Ivo Morales speak at the opening ceremonies of the conference. Click "Read more" for the video.
For the last few months, as a fellow at the Energy Action Coalition, I've been working with partners, state networks and youth leaders to collaboratively design campaigns. As someone active with the Sierra Student Coalition and previously involved with state networks, I know how powerful it can be to put young, energetic leaders in the drivers seat.
Define Our Decade came as a result of these discussions with leaders all across the country. In the wake of Copenhagen, and in light of a lack of ambition in Congress, we asked ourselves what could we do together. Through conference calls, chat rooms and surveys it became clear that what we needed to do was define our decade on our own terms and use the great work happening on campuses and communities across the country to demonstrate solutions and get our leaders to follow suit: what we wound up with was hundreds of communities articulating their vision for the decade, and thousands more rallying around a nationwide call for 100% clean electricity by 2020, and in just this week their will be over 25 meetings with elected leaders to declare this vision.
Building off of this, and with anticipation building around the midterm elections, it's time to build an electoral campaign in the same way. A campaign that is empowering to all its participants; a campaign that builds power behind local issues and solutions that can make real change, demonstrates to our leaders the possibilities of a clean energy economy, and that the Millennial generation is determined to make those possibilities a reality.
On Our Way to Defining Our Decade – Hundreds of Communities, and Thousands of Leaders On Their Way to 100% Clean Electricity
In the past two weeks, hundreds of communities had discussions and took action to begin to define our decade with clean energy.
This post comes from Erika Zarowin and the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition.
Over the next six weeks, the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition and young people across the state of Ohio, will be working to “make green a primary color.” We are working to define our decade by putting energy and climate concerns in the middle of the political discussion, and by building support for a clean energy economy that can solve our economic and environmental crises.
The discussions about how to Define Our Decade are taking off in communities around the country. The Weeks of Action are coming up in 2 weeks, but already young people are having discussions about how they want to define their decade, and taking action to make it happen; this past week dozens of young people turned out at a student-called hearing at Michigan State University. While preparing for the hearing, they had a discussion about what they want to see in the next decade, and then the next day hit the streets calling for MSU to be powered by 100% clean energy by 2020.
All of this comes at a time when the U.S. Senate continues to try to figure out how to proceed with climate and energy legislation. In a Sunday op-ed penned by Thomas Friedman titled “How the G.O.P. Goes Green,” one of the leading figures in crafting legislation, Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina acknowledged that he is inspired to take up climate and energy legislation because of young people on college campuses. Graham correctly points out that young voters are driven by deeply-held environmental values, and more lawmakers would be wise to wake up to this, but Graham’s solutions of nuclear and offshore oil-drilling are both counter to our values and economic interests. Every dollar spent on the dirty energy economy, is a dollar that could have created more jobs in the clean energy economy we must create. That’s why in the coming month it’s essential that we, as the Millennial Generation, further define what our vision for a clean energy economy really is.
Already dozens of events are being hosted around the country that will help us do just that. Check out the event registration page for the full listing and see a couple of highlights below:
- At Pennsylvania State University they’ll be constructing the “Foundation of Our Future,” a big art installation that students can write about there demands for clean energy on.
- An open-mic at Murray State Univ (KY) for people to share poetry and vision for the decade!
- Define Our Decade Vermont Kick-off! On the heels of the Vermont Yankee Nuke Plant decision, and two-years before it’s close date, students at Middlebury College are going to launch their initiative to get a statewide commitment for 100% clean energy!
- Events across the Buckeye State to support Power Vote Ohio in Making Green a Primary Color – they want clean energy candidates to define their future!
Pittsburgh youth kick-off what Congressman Doyle calls a “swell of grassroots action” to Define Our Decade
Pittsburgh youth aren’t waiting to kick-off their Define Our Decade efforts. They launched it this past week with “Rustbelt Renewal: a town hall forum on the promise of a clean energy future.” More than eighty young people and community members engaged with a distinguished panel on the issues of climate legislation and building a clean energy economy. The four panelists were Congressman Mike Doyle; Patrick McMahon President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85; Dr. Constantine Samaras of Carnegie Mellon University and RAND Corporation; and Bob Wallace, director of Penn State University’s BioBridge Program.
The panelists touched on the important of educating the masses, changing mindsets around energy usage, and how creating clean energy jobs could boost the local economy. Congressman Doyle explained how “the US will benefit from a green revolution,” and spoke about Pittsburgh’s importance as a hub for the new clean energy economy saying, “there doesn’t have to be a trade-off between a healthy environment and a good economy,” because clean energy jobs are just “good business sense.” The sentiment shared by all panelist was that even if we’re wrong about anthropogenic climate change, we’ll still have made the best economy in the world.
Angela Wiley, a student organizer at Chatham University remarked, “tonight, there was space for education, discourse, and political action — this needs to happen consistently if climate legislation is to be revived in the Senate to support what local governments and independent groups are already trying to accomplish with respect to a clean energy economy.”
Congressman Doyle went as far as to say that “we need a swell of grassroots support” and encouraged to keep the action going and build the dialogue in our communities. That’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Student Environmental Coalition, a new network of local campuses and other area youth, did by hosting the forum. Forums like these, and hundreds of Define Our Decade events next month across the nation, will make climate and energy part of a real conversation, taking it from a transient topic in the media, to real solutions in our communities.