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.
Today President Obama announced he will be attending the Copenhagen Climate Negotiations!
This is a huge victory for the youth climate movement! Another large victory that happened today as well was the Obama administration agreed to hosting a webcasted address and meeting for young leaders in the movement next Wednesday, Dec. 2 from 4pm – 7pm! Senior-level White House officials will meet in Washington DC with leaders from our movement in it’s first-ever Youth Clean Energy Forum to discuss moving forward to a bold, clean and just energy future.
We should all take two minutes this holiday weekend to call and thank him: 202-456-1111
With that said, this victory did not come easy and it’s only the beginning.
While President Obama is showing International leadership, we also cannot forget about keeping pressure on our Senators. We need to encourage our senators to follow president Obama’s lead by passing strong climate legislation.
The past week and half has been a roller coaster of climate announcements. Several recent events have accumulated to build the much needed pressure on President Obama.
The roller coaster started a little more than a week ago, as President Obama visited China giving an announcement that seemed to only stall the ride before it had even started. President Obama announced that Copenhagen would instead be a political binding agreement as opposed to a much needed legally binding agreement. SEN’s previous post of “Hey Obama! Let’s Win the Tip Off!” discuses this issue further.
This announcement was a low blow to the environmental movement; however, it added fuel to the our fire.
The grassroots responded with over 50,000 young people telling President Obama : “Its Game Time!”.
The youth of America are ready to tackle the climate coaster no matter how big it is. We have had enough of our current dirty coal and radioactive nuclear energy system. Instead we are urging legislators and President Obama to lead the United States and the world into the clean energy future. This future would be made up of clean renewable energy built with millions of green jobs, it would eliminate dirty money within our political system, and it would allow the United States to reengage as a leader among the international community.
With 2010 elections on the way the youth can no longer be ignored, the White House and congress is beginning to realize the true power of the youth voting bloc and if for some reason they are still not listening, they had better start.
Several International leaders came out to announce their attendance, showing the importance of the negotiations.
President Obama had begun to feel the pressure internationally as well, as more and more international leaders committed to attend Copenhagen. Politically speaking, it was a smart move for President Obama to sit down in the front seat of the climate coaster. Below are a few International leaders and US leaders who will join President Obama for a ride on the climate coaster to Copenhagen.
· French President Nicolas Sarkozy · British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
· German Chancellor Angela Merkel · Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva
· Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono · Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
· U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar · U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
· U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke · U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu
· U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson · U.S. Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley
· U.S. Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner.
The scientific community had also come out with a new report showing just how crucial fighting climate change really is.
As climate activists with all the messaging and talking points we surround ourselves with, I feel we sometimes forget where it all comes from, science and scientific studies. The science has never been a loop, only an accurate out of control spiral of global climate patterns. Recently Scientist released a new report. This report put together by the Global Carbon Project and published in the journal Nature Geoscience stated, “Emissions rose by 29% between 2000 and 2008.” The timing of this report was critical, the unfortunate doom and gloom report had only increased the importance of strong legally binding agreements at Copenhagen.
The pressure puts us back on track!
The climate coaster seemed to regain traction as President Obamas announced his attendance. Whitehouse officials have also announced that the United States would set reduction targets at Copenhagen. This is great news, this shows President Obama and The United States are feeling the pressure from the grassroots, International, and scientific communities.
Now, to stay on track!
With the reduction targets likely to be set based off of current legislation passed in the house and waiting to be passed in the senate (17%-20% below 2005 levels) the grassroots voice needs to be louder than ever. Although It is great Obama will be attending we need to make sure these reductions are strong. The United States should look towards basing their reduction targets off of 1990 levels much like the rest of the international community. We need to keep the pressure on President Obama and The United State Congress. Below are four easy ways you can take action NOW!
1. Call the Presidents Obama’s office (202-456-1111) thank him and then urge him to set reduction targets based on 1990 levels.
2. Tell President Obama Its Game Time!
3. Take the Consequences Challenge!
4. If you’d like Energy Action Coalition to ask a question at the meeting on your behalf, just send us a tweet@powershift09 and add the hashtag #ClimateQs. <http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=7VZr9pLCS4EaFsMt1VuC8BtXt758UYQW>
This past Sunday, The New York Times wrote about President Obama publicly stating how the Copenhagen climate negotiations will not be as far reaching as expected. It seems Copenhagen, instead of producing a much needed legally binding climate treaty, will be a promise to continue working toward “politically” binding agreements. In other words this new development is a stall of action, pushing real action on climate backwards. We the clean energy youth, all need to push for forward momentum. This forward movement is what Copenhagen and federal climate action has the potential of producing.
Jessy Tolkan, one of many leaders, within the youth climate movement responded, referring to President Obama’s recent action as a “delay of game.” President Obama and the US Congress’ lack of reach around global and federal climate action simply shows that dirty energy will continue to win the tip off every game.
Moving towards a clean energy economy here in the US will show leadership at Copenhagen and future global climate negotiations. As the youth environmental movement continues to grow and vote we need to maintain pressure on our elected officials around clean energy and climate issues. The 2010 elections are just around the corner and our voice needs to be louder and stronger than ever!
President Obama said “yes we can” and provided us with “hope”. Our generation will continue to say “yes we can now!” and push for “hope” to become “reality”. If Copenhagen does in fact become a delay of game then federal clean energy policy becomes even more important. The US must show leadership, the lack of US leadership is a large reason for Copenhagen potentially turning into a delay of game.
That being said we cannot give up! We still need a final push to finish out the game in 2009, we need to tell President Obama, The United States, and the world that young people want a clean energy future now! Copenhagen should not be a delay of game, let’s work hard as a team to win the tip off, and push our top player number 44 to step it up, It’s Game Time Obama!