by Rob Friedman, Youth Engagement Coordinator, Natural Resources Defense Council
Over the course of my years in the youth climate movement, I’ve been reminded many times that this work is filled with trials and tribulations. From the Bella Centre during COP15, when we didn’t get a fair, ambitious and binding international agreement on global emissions, to Power Shift, where we lobbied our members of Congress to pass domestic climate legislation. We’ve shouted, rallied and some of us have even gotten arrested to demonstrate we are heading in the wrong direction.
Rarely do we receive any validation that we are actually breaking through the smog and getting on the right path towards climate stability. In June, we had one of those moments when President Obama laid out a bold plan for addressing the climate crisis by reining in dangerous carbon pollution that spews unregulated into our atmosphere from power plants. And while I certainly did not agree with everything the President put forward, it is beyond clear that carbon pollution must be mitigated.
Just last week, the EPA presented an updated version of regulations that will limit carbon pollution from all new power plants. Once these standards are in place, no future power plant will ever be able to recklessly emit climate change-inducing pollution into our air. Standards for existing power plants are in development. These standards give states the flexibility to determine how to meet limits on carbon emissions through a variety of methods, including programs like RGGI. The President’s plan also outlined efficiency measures that will ensure that consumers are using less electricity and decreasing overall demand. We’re counting on these standards to set us on the right track, and while these are huge steps, our work is far from over.
I come at most of my work from an intergenerational lens – that despite the fact that my generation hasn’t caused climate change, we are inheriting this crisis in a very real way, whether we like it or not. Although this work sometimes feel like a bummer, it is also completely invigorating. We must keep the pressure up, wherever we can. In our classrooms, at the dinner table and in the halls of Congress.
In the coming months and years, we will be working at the local level to ensure that states are working alongside the EPA to create strong carbon mitigation strategies for new and existing power plants. College and universities have an enormous role to play in making sure this happens.
Climate change will not be solved by one policy measure or one speech, but if we continue to elevate voices from the frontlines, escalate pressure on our elected officials and maintain focus that we are fighting for not only our own collective futures, but also those of many generations to come, we are going to win.
Eyes on the prize, see you out there.