Whether you were standing in the middle of Times Square with a bullhorn (like me!), or holding signs at a rally in Fargo, North Dakota, or lined up in the formation of the number "350" on the steps of the Sydney Opera House: The local and global buzz leading up to next month's expected clean energy legislation in the U.S. Senate and the United Nations' December climate conference in Copenhagen reached a crescendo over the weekend.
President Obama kicked things off on Friday when he delivered his clean energy speech at MIT. I work in the youth climate movement, so it was particularly encouraging to hear him specifically acknowledge the outstanding efforts of young people, and also to assert that the United States will be a global leader on these issues that will most acutely impact my generation. This was exciting on the eve of Saturday's 350.org International Day of Climate Action, the largest international action in the environmental movement ever!, in which people of all ages and races from more than 140 countries advocated to reduce carbon to 350 parts per million by taking photos with the number "350" all over the world. Likewise the Power Shift '09 regional summits, supported by my team at the Energy Action Coalition, brought together thousands of local activists in North Dakota, Florida, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania calling for change. I was lucky enough to emcee a "350" event in Times Square, and attend Virginia Power Shift '09 - there is absolutely no doubt that a cross-section of America is fired up and ready to see bold change enacted.
Backed by our barrier-breaking president, it's astounding to see how powerful this grassroots movement can be. Now we're in a position to end the year with major legislation in Congress and lead the world at Copenhagen in December.
We have to take all these actions and make them count by finishing strong. If this were one of the president's much-loved basketball games, it would be fair to say that we've reached the fourth quarter and it's up to us to win!
Last week, I outlined what youth leaders would be looking for in his speech. I was pleased to hear the president's resounding belief that the United States of America has the innovation and drive to tackle the enormous energy and climate challenges that we face. Its encouraging to see our president using the power of his office to bring the issue to the forefront, but its time to get specific. It's game time, Obama! We need to hear your specific commitments to take your leadership to Copenhagen this December, we need the White House to stand firm on the need pass domestic legislation that will help us create millions of clean energy jobs, and we need you to continue to engage with the constituency that was so critical in your electoral victory, to help cross the finish line on a strong climate bill before you leave for Copenhagen,
Few things are more inspiring than seeing an issue you've devoted your life to fighting take center stage. This past weekend I saw the exact components necessary to achieve true victory on the domestic and international level. As I stood in Time Square, with screens scrolling pictures of events around the world, as I stood before Virginia Power Shifters, as I heard updates from North Dakota, West Virginia, Florida, and Pennsylvania, I felt as if the tide was finally turning. The power of the people will win us this fight, and that power is riper than its ever been. Last November we learned that the power of the grassroots combined with unstoppable leadership could make history. We're ready to make history again this fall.
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