Building Political Power

“All years are important, but decisions made in 2014 will have a striking impact for decades to come.” –Andrew Steer, President and CEO of World Resources Institute

While celebrating New Year’s Eve in 2009, as the clock ticked down to a new decade I felt a tinge of apprehension.  The Copenhagen climate talks had just failed, yet the evidence was mounting that climate change was becoming more and more threatening.  As the clock struck midnight and 2009 turned into 2010, I sensed that this was the critical decade.  The next ten years, from 2010 to 2020, would largely define the state of the world for rest of the century.  Scientists have repeatedly warned that unless we peak total global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, we won't be able to stabilize the climate below 2 degrees C of warming.  Can we peak global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020?  Can we figure out a viable global agreement to collectively act on climate?  Can the US enact meaningful climate policy?  All of these questions loomed large for me in 2009 as I thought about the years ahead.

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326 For the past couple months, the pressure has been building on elected officials in Kentucky to diversify the state’s energy portfolio and invest more in an economy that utilizes larger amounts of renewable energies, specifically through the passage of legislation such as the Clean Energy Opportunities Act (HB 195). This effort has been led by a diverse coalition of stakeholders in the state, but has seen particularly strong participation from young Kentuckians.

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Crossposted on NRDC's Switchboard.

Last Friday night I went to the supermarket to buy several five gallon jugs of water. Being a longtime environmental advocate, it felt wrong to be buying bottled water.  But more than that, it felt strange to be buying water to meet the drinking needs of fellow Americans. Many assume that in the wealthiest country in the world, everyone has access to all of the potable water they could ever need. But that’s not necessarily true for many people living in shale country. The next day, I and 30 New York college students would be visiting Pennsylvania to see how fracking is threatening American communities and, more immediately, to deliver clean drinking water to people that have been living without it for some time.

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On Wednesday night, with less than two hours before the country defaulted on its debts, Congress ended the standoff that shut the government down for 16 days, kept countless federal workers without work or pay, and left anyone watching disheartened by partisan antics. In the end, it amounted to Congress deciding to do its job and allowing others to do the same.

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Thomas Friedman's latest piece in the New York Times: "Sorry, Kids. We Ate It All."

He writes: "Short of an economic meltdown, there is only one thing that might produce meaningful change: a mass movement for tax, spending and entitlement reform led by the cohort that is the least organized but will be the most affected if we don’t think long term — today’s young people. Whether they realize it or not, they’re the ones who will really get hit by all the cans we’re kicking down the road. ...But what are the chances of them getting out of Facebook and into their parents’ faces — and demanding not only that the wealthy do their part but that the next generation as a whole leaves something for this one? Too bad young people aren’t paying attention. Or are they?"

Yes, we are.  This weekend, in Pittsburgh PA, we will demonstrate that.  Let's show Thomas Friedman - and the rest of the world - that "the one thing that might produce meaningful change: a mass movement led by today's young people, getting out of Facebook and paying attention," is happening!

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Crossposted from NRDC's Switchboard

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Crossposted from NRDC’s Switchboard

Over the course of my years in the youth climate movement, I’ve been reminded many times that this work is filled with trials and tribulations.  From the Bella Centre during COP15, when we didn’t get a fair, ambitious and binding international agreement on global emissions, to Power Shift, where we lobbied our members of Congress to pass domestic climate legislation.  We’ve shouted, rallied and some of us have even gotten arrested to demonstrate we are heading in the wrong direction.

Rarely do we receive any validation that we are actually breaking through the smog and getting on the right path towards climate stability.  In June, we had one of those moments when President Obama laid out a bold plan for addressing the climate crisis by reining in dangerous carbon pollution that spews unregulated into our atmosphere from power plants. And while I certainly did not agree with everything the President put forward, it is beyond clear that carbon pollution must be mitigated.

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