If our leaders who are running for re-election in 2010 want to benefit from the youth vote that rocked Campaign 2008, they need to understand that creating new jobs through the development of a clean and independent energy future is a paramount issue for young people. The financial crisis, health care and our strategy in Afghanistan may be dominating news coverage as the country prepares for the holidays, but we also have incredible opportunities to win notable victories in the fight against harmful pollution and develop an aggressive clean energy policy. The question is: Will our representatives lead by example now or cover their tracks with vague promises on the campaign trail next year?
It's clear that America's youth don't want to wait.
This month thousands of these voters have turned out in Michigan, Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina as part of Regional Power Shift Summits to show the power and urgency of this youth led climate movement. These efforts aim to put key elected officials in these states on notice, like Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Evan Bayh (D-IN), as well as community officials in their neighborhoods. We want local and national leaders to use the fast-approaching United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on December 7th - 18th as a deadline to show leadership at home and abroad on climate and energy issues, and they want to see the creation of millions of jobs that could alleviate disproportionately high levels of unemployment affecting their peers.
Our message was clear:
The summits, organized by the membership of the Energy Action Coalition (of which I serve as Executive Director), began in Michigan and Indiana on Oct. 10 and traveled to Missouri and North Carolina over the weekend, and included insightful speeches from local change-makers, volunteer work for innovative community groups, and field training for organizers.
The events were part of 11 regional summits across the nation that will bring together thousands of young people through Nov. 8 to demand that President Obama and Congress create a climate and energy plan by December that rebuilds our economy, ends our dependence on dirty energy, and brings our communities lasting security. The summits were organized by young voters to push national leaders to take action on climate and energy by organizing rallies, events, protests, phone calls and meetings with elected officials.
When we said last year that we believed in change and the fierce urgency of now, we meant it. It's time to see if our leaders did too.
Follow Jessy Tolkan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jessytolkan