My View: Fight for our future. Pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill
As young people, adults often ask us about our futures. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" "Where do you want to go to college?" But the truth is, it's hard to plan for a future that feels threatened. Climate change is the greatest crisis of our time.
At school, we're taught knowledge is valuable and critical thinking will help us navigate our future. But this future isn't guaranteed. What's the point of being taught how important it is to act on facts when those in charge are ignoring facts they don't think are convenient? We worry because it feels like those in power aren't worrying enough.
The science is clear. Unless we significantly transform power and transportation to cleaner sources, our future is bleak. Massive drought will make food expensive and scarce, and threaten our drinking water. Wildfires up to five times worse than today will fill the air with smoke for days on end. Storms of wind, rain, ice, or snow will grow more destructive and frequent, harming communities. And the latest science — which says we have just 11 years to avoid climate catastrophe — should move all of us to act.
Oregon has a chance to do its part to reduce climate pollution by passing the Clean Energy Jobs bill (House Bill 2020). It's the biggest opportunity to protect Oregon's climate and the communities directly impacted by climate change, especially marginalized communities on the front lines of this crisis.
Clean Energy Jobs is a policy that will limit and put a price on climate pollution from the state's largest polluters. It will invest in communities across Oregon to create clean energy jobs and protect us from climate impacts like wildfire. On Earth Day, we joined dozens of youths in Salem to urge lawmakers to pass the bill. Gov. Kate Brown spoke about the threat climate change poses to our communities, economy, ecosystems, and way of life. She told the crowd it's "critically important" to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill this session because it "allows us to combat climate change as we grow our economy and create new jobs." We couldn't agree more.
Combating climate change requires an entire community. There's so much to do, the possibilities can feel overwhelming. What we've done is started connecting with other young people who strive for an equitable world that allows for a sustainable way of life. We deserve a livable future, so we're taking action.
Some of us have testified in support of the bill multiple times this year, or even during multiple sessions. We've gathered hundreds of youth signatures in support of Clean Energy Jobs by circulating a petition before class, during lunch, and after school.
We're not naive. We're paying attention. We understand people are apprehensive about change. A big transition is never easy, but no matter how scary it seems in the short term, it's essential for a sustainable and safe future. If nothing is done and we allow greenhouse gas pollution to continue to pour into our environment, free of charge, we'll live with the catastrophic results.
As youths, we bring energy, voice, and numbers to fight for climate justice. We, as a community, urge lawmakers to pass the bill now. Oregon's climate is already changing, and we need to help stop this. Oregon's way of life, going back generations, is in danger.
The best way that Oregon can fight the climate crisis this year is to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill. We need this legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions and invest in an economy for our future. Our generation needs reliable and sustainable jobs, and clean energy is a great field with a wide range of opportunities.
Young people are making their voices heard. We are the ones who will have to deal with the worst of climate change if nothing is done. Youths all over the world are rising up in support of climate action because we have no other choice. It's our future that we're fighting for.
Yusuf Arifin just finished eighth grade at Cedar Park Middle School in Beaverton. Ruby Haack and Edith Allen wrapped up their junior years at Grant High School in Portland.