By Sarah Goodspeed, Youth & Policy Manager and Shaza Hussein, Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA! MN) Core leader
The youth of this country know that our voices are powerful.
Today we are banding together to change the status quo in areas that for decades have been immovable. We are leading on solutions and raising our voices to demand climate justice.
Older generations have burdened youth with the impacts of climate change from a generations-old fossil fuel society. Now, youth are standing up demanding action and fighting for a vision of a fossil-free Minnesota by 2040 with justice every step of the way.
To that end, youth from across Minnesota gathered at the State Capitol for the Youth Climate Justice Summit on April 25. The Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA! MN) network of youth, a program of Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy, and many partners organized the event for youth both new and experienced in climate change advocacy.
We shared moving stories about climate change with Governor Dayton, met with legislators, and participated in advocacy trainings. The power of our collective voices was reflected as we advocated for legislation currently being considered in the Minnesota House and Senate. We thanked Governor Dayton for his commitment to climate solutions and challenged him to do more to protect our shared future.
Youth have great power in evoking positive change.
Our voices are often ignored by adults, yet we will be the ones who have to live with the repercussions of current legislation. Participating in an open forum with Governor Dayton, where youth voices were magnified, illustrates how youth are becoming increasingly present on the vanguard of progressive moments.
As a society, we benefit from having people of all ages contribute to the discussion. The growing presence of youth on the front lines informs legislators of the different angles within issues affecting both Minnesotans and the world.
[bctt tweet=”We expect our legislators to protect us and commit to ambitious renewable energy goals and green jobs for all.”]
We met with more than 50 legislators, asking for support to end Minnesota’s dependence on fossil fuels and for a just transition to an equitable and sustainable future. Student groups asked about issues important to each of our communities, whether it be funding for solar panels, local control to limit plastic use, protecting free speech, preventing more pipelines, gun control, and strong climate change education.
We learned that we can educate legislators on many climate change solutions and that our voices make a difference.
Climate Generation’s founder Will Steger is quoted saying, “We have a moral responsibility to safeguard our children’s future from the impacts of climate change. We are in a unique position to lead.”
Take the lead from youth who understand that we must deeply transform how we live on this earth, youth who know that we need ambitious solutions to protect our future. Youth who also expect our legislators to protect us and commit to ambitious renewable energy goals and green jobs for all.
The youth of Minnesota are powerful.
We care about the world that we are inheriting, and are focused on creating equitable solutions to climate change. And, we are putting you to the test.
Sarah Goodspeed is youth and policy manager at Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy, and Shaza Hussein is a youth leader involved in their Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota program.