Guest commentary: Aspen Junior Environmentalists striking for a reason
Friday is the Global Climate Strike. Kids and adults across the globe will be leaving school and work to protest the pathetic lack of government climate action. This movement was initiated by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who was inspired by the students who stopped going to school after the Parkland shootings.
Many of our peers and adults have questioned: “Why a global climate strike? It’s not going to do anything.” Some people ignore the science. Others are oblivious to the problem, and others cynically say that it’s too late to do anything.
We are striking because we want to join the growing union of young people and adults around the world who want a livable future. We don’t have time to wait until we are old enough to vote. This is a problem, and it demands action by individuals but more importantly from corporations and government.
What we can we all do personally:
Eat less meat, use public transportation, or ride your bike. Reduce/reuse/recycle, compost and avoid single-use plastics.
Work with CORE (Community Office of Resource Efficiency) to transition to a renewable-energy powered home. CORE saves more than 23,000 metric tons of carbon annually (and more than $3 million in utility bills). It is now possible to become net zero with energy use.
What we can we do locally:
Declare a climate emergency in Aspen and Pitkin County. Aspen and Pitkin County have a climate action plan. Declaring a climate emergency makes it easier to prioritize climate action. This is not a hollow resolution. It should impact every decision made by the city and the county.
Ban single-use plastics. The European Union is banning single-use plastics as of 2021. San Francisco International Airport has banned single-use plastics. Aspen should have the political will to do the same.
Go big with solar and renewable energy. Colorado has 300 days of sunshine a year. All new buildings — especially employee housing — should be net-zero.
We applaud Holy Cross Energy for moving their goals forward to provide 70% carbon-free electricity by 2021 (instead of the goal of 2030) — but can they provide 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030 or 2025?
Encourage electric public transportation. We applaud RFTA for purchasing eight new electric buses, and we hope that the entire fleet can be converted to electric.
What we can all do regionally:
Vote to get off our reliance on fossil fuels, which have been subsidized for decades, making oil and plastic cheaper in the U.S. than in other countries. This needs to happen in order to reverse the negative effects of climate change. HR 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, is an economically effective way to reduce carbon emissions in Colorado.
What we can all do nationally:
Support politicians who believe that human-charged climate change is real — politicians who believe in science.
To learn more about the global climate strike and to RSVP for Aspen’s Climate Strike on Friday, visit 350.org and https://actionnetwork.org/events/aspen-climate-strike.
Submitted by Isabella Poschman and Aspen Junior Environmentalists — a group of students from Aspen School District that takes small and local actions to make the world a more sustainable, better place.