2009 Highlights – 2010 Here We Come

January 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

2010 is in full swing, but we feel it’s important to recap our efforts and the overall good work of the southeast youth climate movement in 2009. We can then look at what’s to come in 2010.

When looking back at 2009 three major highlights can be recognized.

Power Shift 09 is the first, and biggest, highlight from 2009. The conference brought more than12,000 youth climate activists together, and then many thousands of students took to Capitol Hill to hold the largest lobby day on climate change in U.S. history. Power Shift 09 showed our elected officials we will no longer accept dirty coal and radioactive nuclear energy powering our future. The youth of America want clean, renewable energy and green jobs, pushing us toward a clean energy economy.

Second, as young people across the nation rallied, lobbied, and urged our politicians to take strong, comprehensive action on climate change, our politicians took notice and took action. In June, the House of Representatives passed the first federal climate legislation in U.S. history. This landmark legislation is far from perfect; however, the passing of this bill shows us that climate change is rapidly becoming a major issue within mainstream politics. Passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act showed our nation that we can address man-made climate change through legislation. Now, we must push the Senate to put a strong piece of legislation on President Obama’s desk.

Third, the youth climate movement organized in unprecedented ways to positively influence the Global Climate Conference in Copenhagen last December. Although the conference outcome was far from ideal, youth climate activists were highly visible during the conference, and several major goals of the youth movement were achieved. Multiple regional Power Shift conferences including one in North Carolina and Florida inclinwere organized around the country. The conferences brought hundreds of southern youth together ramping up pressure on Senators and local elected officials. Through the It’s Game Time Obama campaign, students and young people around the country put pressure on President Obama to attend the Copenhagen conference. White House officials also organized the White House Youth Clean Energy Forum, inviting student leaders from across the country to meet with Administration officials and to share our vision of a clean energy future. Copenhagen allowed the movement to grow and using that momentum we will continue to gain more power allowing us to have an even larger impact on the next global climate negotiations in Mexico.

None of these achievements would have been possible without the hard work, creativity, and passion of young people.

What do we have to look forward to in 2010?

In the Southern Energy Network’s fifth year, we have big plans for our state networks and we hope the nation is ready for the southeast to flex its political muscle working towards Global Warming solutions.

Here is a snapshot of what we have planned:

In Florida, a Florida student network is emerging, allowing colleges and universities across the state to work as one powerful team. Florida youth will continue to work to pressure state politicians to pass the Student Green Energy Fund through the state legislature, and will be flexing their political muscles around federal legislation and the November elections.

Right before the holidays swept our amazing activists away from campus, the Georgia student/youth network formed the first ever Georgia Youth for Energy Solutions (YES!) Steering Committee With this fantastic force of organizers we plan to take Georgia energy politics by storm in 2010, putting an end to the proposed construction of coal-fired Plant Washington, bringing global warming solutions to the forefront of the Georgia governor’s race, and building a powerful youth-led network like we’ve never seen before. Get ready!

South Carolina’s Palmetto Environmental Action Coalition (PEAC) is poised for another successful year in 2010. After defeating the proposed Pee Dee Coal plant, students at South Carolina campuses are aiming to be a major influence in the fall elections by bringing clean energy projects and global warming to the forefront of the Gubernatorial and other local, state, and federal races. The influences South Carolina students bring will help push our Members of Congress to prioritize climate on Capitol Hill. Student leaders will demonstrate the widespread support for off-shore wind, not off-shore oil drilling. We will also work with our coalition partners across the state to support green jobs legislation in the state house that will help transform South Carolina’s economy and create jobs.

In North Carolina a broad coalition of people and organizations are developing the No Coal NC campaign to expand beyond stopping the Duke Energy Cliffside plant. North Carolina is also working to support a comprehensive vision of energy efficiency jobs and training programs, as well as taking older coal plants offline. Youth across the state are eager to engage their national, state, and local representatives calling for real solutions to climate change and failing economy. Perhaps most importantly, conversations are beginning to happen across the state.

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