Students around the state advocated for swift, bold action on climate change
SALEM – Today, Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order directing state agencies to take urgent action to address climate change. That includes setting science-based greenhouse gas reduction goals (45% below 1990 levels by 2035 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050), directing the Environmental Quality Commission to set and enforce sector-specific caps on climate pollution in three of the largest sources of emissions (transportation fuels, natural gas, and large industrial polluters), and doubling the Clean Fuels standard program to reducing pollution from cars and trucks, among other ways to lower the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“I’ve heard it loud and clear from our young people across Oregon: climate action is crucial and urgent,” Gov. Brown said in the announcement about the executive order. “Our planet is running out of time. We will put Oregon on a path our children can be proud of.”
Children are the largest and most vocal group about the need to make progress on climate change. Internationally-known Swedish climate advocate Greta Thunberg is just 17–but you don’t have to go to Sweden to find teenagers who have centered their lives around advocating for policies to fight climate change. Students across Oregon advocated with marches and protests during the Climate Walk-Out, demanding the state take climate change seriously.
“Unfortunately, climate change is still sometimes treated as a political issue, so it isn’t worked on as the problem it is,” says Charlie Abrams, a sophomore at Cleveland High School in Portland and winner of the Children’s Climate Prize and the Youth Eco Hero Prize. “But climate change is the biggest issue of my generation.”
Abrams has been coming to the Capitol since he was in sixth grade to testify for climate protection. In fact, his advocacy to the Portland Public School Board resulted in climate change being incorporated into the science curriculum, reaching over 60,000 students. He also co-founded his own youth action group on climate change, Affected Generation.
Angelique Prater, a student from South Salem High School, is one of several thousand young people showing support for climate legislation and encouraging legislators to act now. She led the Student Climate Strike in Salem last September that drew hundreds of teens.
“We demand today’s politicians understand one thing: There is no next time to solve this problem,” she says. Prater’s parents are farm workers and as part of the Latino Unidos Siempre organization, she makes clear the connection between their work and climate change: wildfire smoke, heatwaves, and extreme weather.
“Governor Brown taking executive action on climate means a lot to me as a young person fighting for climate action. It’s crucial that we take steps to address climate change now. There isn’t time to waste, and it’s energizing to see the governor responding to this urgency,” says Claire Matthews-Lingen, a junior at Willamette University and member of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate coalition.
Read more about the Executive Order on climate change here.