Vermont youth call on lawmakers to act on climate change

Published: Nov. 17, 2019 at 9:26 PM EST
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Vermont youth took over the Statehouse Sunday to write a climate declaration they're planning to send to state lawmakers.

Hundreds of students from schools all across Vermont packed inside the Chamber for the state's first-ever Youth Climate Congress.

Kids, from elementary school to college, called on the Vermont Legislature and Gov. Phil Scott to take bold action on climate change.

“The work we are doing today will set an example for Governor Scott and the Legislature of what comprehensive climate legislation can and should look like," said Youth Climate Congress co-chair Lili Platt.

Platt led the event alongside co-chair Evelyn Seidner. Seidner and Platt delivered the opening remarks before breaking the group into smaller subcommittees to further discuss climate solutions. They brainstormed ways to advance transportation, energy and heating, agriculture, just transition, and climate justice.

Seidner facilitated the conversation on energy and heating.

"Some of our solutions include expanding efficiency Vermont to weatherize every single Vermont house. We want to put aggressive incentives and subsidies put forth from the Vermont state government and we want Vermont to meet 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2040," said Seidner.

WCAX News also spoke with the students in the agriculture subcommittee. They talked about helping farmers transition to sustainable practices by providing economic incentives through legislation.

"Agriculture is such an important part of our state identity and part of our state economy," said UVM student Josie Friedman. "We can’t just leave farmers behind or expect them to be able to come up with the means to be able to be part of the transitional sustainability on their own. We’re also really focused on how sustainable agriculture can have benefits for the soil, health and water quality of our state as well."

UVM students Anna Marchessault and Rachel Weed led the session on transportation. They told WCAX the solutions they came up with included adding more infrastructure for public transportation, pedestrians, and bikers, as well as implementing a carbon pricing system in Vermont.

After brainstorming ideas, students reconvened in the chamber and wrote up a final declaration that they’re hoping will end up back at the Statehouse in January.

Some students are optimistic lawmakers will take their demands seriously.

“Hopefully they’ll be better about listening to youth voice and taking action against something that needs to be heard," said Brattleboro Union High School freshman Meghan Frost.

Students vowed to return to the Statehouse if the Legislature doesn’t take action on their proposal.

"We’re not going to give up. This is just one event where we’re coming together but we’re going to continue to do this for as long as we need to," said Friedman.

Students also heard from Rep. Becca White and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson. Johnson wrote a letter to them applauding them for their dedication to the cause.

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