The case for strong action by the U.S. to address climate change is growing by the day. After experiencing the hottest and wettest May on record last month, we can clearly see that the impacts of climate change are intensifying. In the past few weeks, international climate efforts have made headlines: Norway has voted to divest its pension fund from coal, the Pope has delivered a compelling moral call for climate action in his encyclical on the environment, and a Dutch court ruling has established the precedent of governmental climate liability. With 2015 on track to beat 2014 as the hottest year on record and the year-end COP21 climate talks in Paris catalyzing national climate commitments around the world, it has never been more apparent that the time for our country to act on climate is now.
Current events aside, it’s important to remember the deeper reasons motivating the need for climate action. We recognize that climate change will disproportionately affect low-income communities of color, who are the most vulnerable and least able to adapt to increasingly frequent extreme weather events and other climate-related risks. We also recognize that youth will inherit the unparalleled impacts of climate change. In the face of this reality, both groups have become powerful advocates in advancing climate solutions. It is all of our moral imperative to back them in their efforts, as they lead the work towards building a sustainable and resilient future.
Enter the Clean Power Plan, an ambitious climate initiative that would cut national power sector emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. As our YEA! MN co-chair Kendra Roedl described it at a recent press conference, “the Clean Power Plan is the biggest step the U.S. has taken to mitigate climate change, and we need to make sure Minnesota leads the way in implementing a strong version of the plan.”
Here in Minnesota, we have the opportunity to prove to the country and the international community that we’re serious about curbing climate change through an ambitious but achievable carbon reduction goal. Our state is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the clean energy progress we’ve already seen and enact an ambitious Clean Power Plan that continues to drive us towards a thriving, sustainable, zero-carbon economy.
This is something that students in our high school youth program, YEA! MN, have been calling for throughout the past year, in a youth-driven petition campaign at their schools, at a clean energy summit with Governor Dayton, and most recently at a press conference with Will Steger and clean energy business leaders. Ahead of last December’s public comment deadline for the Clean Power Plan, YEA! MN students from Hopkins to Apple Valley made announcements in their classes, circulated petitions at frisbee and soccer practices, and enlisted their friends in their collection of over 600 petitions from Metro area youth supporting the Clean Power Plan.
What motivates their advocacy? Former YEA! MN co-chair Kumar Flower Kay explained his participation this way: “Although many of today’s youth know that creating a more sustainable, carbon-neutral world is common sense, we cannot make the policy changes that would address climate change ourselves. We hope that through initiatives like supporting the Clean Power Plan, we can show our current leaders that young people have a voice and these are the issues we care about.”
Youth have made their voices heard in support of climate action and we join them in calling on Governor Dayton to propose a strong Clean Power Plan for Minnesota ahead of the August deadline.
Climate Generation supports a strong Clean Power Plan, especially in Minnesota. Our founder Will Steger and YEA! MN co-chair Kendra Roedl recently participated in a press conference calling on Governor Dayton and Minnesota to lead with a strong, aggressive plan. Read an article from the media coverage of the event here.