PORTLAND — A Portland fourth grader is turning to social media to make sure elected officials across the country are fighting climate change. And Governor Kate Brown is listening.
Letter to the Governor
“I received a letter from 10 year old Abner, he wanted to make sure I knew the consequences of inaction on climate change,” says Governor Brown. “On one side of the card he drew an Earth struggling from years of global warming. ‘Hot, hot, hot,’ read the caption. The Earth was frowning… What are you doing about climate change?”
In her inaugural address earlier this year, Governor Brown highlighted Abner’s note and the importance of meeting Oregon’s carbon emissions goals and signing the clean energy jobs bill this session.
“Abner, I hope you’re listening… we’re on it,” she said in her State of the State address before the Joint Session of the 80th Legislative Assembly. “Our young people deserve to inherit an Oregon as beautiful and bountiful as the one we cherish today.”
Effects of Climate Change on Oregon
Across the state, communities are experiencing the effects of climate change. Ninety percent of Oregon is in drought. The Rogue Valley was covered in smoke for over eight weeks last summer. Wildfires have increased in intensity and severity, and the last year was the warmest in Oregon in over a century. There’s no doubt that climate change is threatening Oregon’s culture, communities, and economy.
Everyone can play a role in fighting climate change.
“I think kids my age can do many things. They can write letters, ask their parents to get an electric car, to use renewable energy or raise money for environmental programs, “ says Abner. “I want people like Governor Brown to help pass bills that help our planet and reduce greenhouse gas emissions even more.”
Inspiration for Activism
Abner’s inspiration for climate activism stemmed from reading a book his mom brought home from the library, Chelsea Clinton’s Start Now! It talks about what children can do to change the world, and mentioned writing to elected officials.
Abner’s first letter went to Governor Brown. Then to Director Janine Benner at the Oregon Department of Energy. And then to the 17 governors that agreed to keep the Paris Climate Agreement — with every letter, he sent a Tweet to the electeds as well.
Being written into Governor Brown’s inaugural address alongside an ambitious climate agenda was, as Abner describes, “…one of the coolest things ever kind of cool!”
Governor Brown’s vision is for Oregon’s strong, innovative, and inclusive economy to achieve the state’s climate emissions goals through a complementary set of policies, including a least-cost, market-based greenhouse gas emissions pricing program.
“Meeting the challenge of climate change and growing our economy are not mutually exclusive goals: we must do both,” says Governor Brown. “I believe future generations will judge us not on the fact of climate change, but on what we do to tackle it.”