In the final years of the 2010s, the entire globe watched as a powerful, youth-led environmental movement unfolded. The children of the world spoke up and shouted, “enough is enough”, and adults finally began to listen. The youth-led climate strikes have started the conversation, now it’s time for us to turn that conversation into advocacy. We finally have the energy needed to pass bold climate policy that will result in concrete emission reductions.
And that’s exactly what Washington’s youths will be demanding during their Youth Climate Lobby Day on Friday, January 24. Youth from across the state will be meeting with their elected officials to demand that bold climate action takes place in this legislative session. Our demands are that lawmakers pass four bills: a climate emergency declaration, a limit on our state’s emissions in line with the most up-to-date science, a clean fuel standard and a clean and just transportation bill.
It is imperative that legislation supports efforts to adapt to climate change, which is why Washington’s youths are lobbying in Olympia at the end of the month.
Our first priority is for Washington’s government to declare a climate emergency. By doing so, our government would finally acknowledge just how big of a threat the climate crisis is for Washington’s residents. Following this declaration, appropriate legislative plans to help mitigate the effects of climate change would be set in place. Washington would cement its role as a national leader on climate issues as we would become the first state to declare a climate emergency.
Second, we demand that a limit on pollution be put in place. This would look like aggressive goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the biggest being carbon. These emissions are directly tied to some of the most destructive effects of climate change, some of which are already being seen in Washington such as the increased frequency and intensity of our wildfire seasons, sea-level rise and drought. If Washington sets bold, science-based emission limits, it will set a framework for our legislature to pass the policies we need to get us there while setting an example for other states to follow.
Further, in order to reduce carbon as mentioned above, we also demand that a clean fuel standard be passed in Washington State. Transportation is one of the biggest contributors to atmospheric carbon levels. By burning cleaner fuels, Washington’s air will clear and climate pollution will decrease. Both California, Oregon, and British
Columbia all have already implemented a clean fuel standard. Why don’t we join our West Coast counterparts in this constructive change?
On a similar note, our final demand is to pass a clean and just transportation bill. This would look like improved access and affordability of public transit, as well as strengthened safety across the state for the communities that need it most. Transportation is Washington’s largest source of emissions. This bill will help more Washingtonians connect to jobs, schools, healthcare facilities, and loved ones.
Youth voices often go unheard when it comes to public policy and the legislative process. We are the generation whose futures are most impacted by climate change, so we need our legislators to act now before it is too late. The most recent climate science has made it clear that lawmakers in Olympia must take bold environmental action in order to diminish the catastrophic effects of climate change. Time is running out, which is why we are calling on young people and adult allies across the state to join us in support of this necessary change. We must make sure our voices are heard!
I hope that you can either join us in person or in solidarity on Friday, January 24th.
RSVP and more information can be found at youthlobbyday.org.
Chloe Brush was raised in the Pacific Northwest, and currently is a student and climate activist at Western Washington University. She is working toward a degree in environmental studies.
To follow along with Youth Climate Lobby Day, follow @lobby_day on Twitter and @youthlobbyday on Instagram.