by Maura Cowley, Executive Director, Energy Action Coalition
This morning I was arrested in front of the White House.
I sat down and got arrested to show that we are determined to see President Obama take decisive action on climate change by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.
As one of the youth leaders participating in this demonstration, today I stood for our generation.
Never before have the stakes been higher to take action on climate change. In 2012, extreme weather events took a harrowing toll on people across the United States and the world. If we fail to take action, millions of people around the world will suffer. There simply is not an option to sit on the sidelines and let this moment pass.
Last night in his State of the Union address, President Obama declared that “for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.” Even more, he made a promise: “If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”
This is the first time in our nation’s history that we have heard such a loud and clear direction set by a president on climate change. The window to act on climate has opened, so now we must push the President to make good on his commitment to all of us, and to future generations.
But we can’t just leave it up to the “powers that be” in Washington, DC. Throughout our nation’s history, it has been the simple but heroic acts of ordinary people which have charted the path to equality and justice. It has always been young people who, time after time, have envisioned a brighter future for our world and demanded nothing less.
The fight for climate justice is no different. From campaigns to divest campus endowments, to standing in solidarity with frontline communities, to making our voices heard at the ballot box, it is up to us, the Millennial Generation, to demonstrate that climate change isn’t just an environmental issue, it is a social justice issue. And it has been our generation at the forefront of demanding real solutions to our climate crisis.
We have already changed the course of history for the Keystone XL pipeline once. By taking bold action, we pushed the President to massively delay any permit for the northern half of that dangerous pipeline. But the Keystone XL pipeline is soon to be on the President’s desk again, and our job is to make sure that one of the President’s first climate actions is to reject the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline.
David Brower, a prolific environmental leader once said, “Politicians are like weathervanes, and our job is to make the wind blow.” Every time we organize an event for climate justice, or take part in a local campaign, or speak truth to power by talking to the media about climate change, we make the gust of wind demanding climate action a little stronger. Together, we can create a drumbeat of voices calling for change that cannot be ignored.