Lili Platt and Evelyn Seidner: Vermont Youth Climate Congress convenes on Sunday

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In order to preserve and protect the natural systems upon which people, plants, and animals depend, we must quickly and collectively come together to agree on a plan to combat the global climate crisis.

Every person, corporation, organization and government has a role to play. Our generation is the least responsible for the climate crisis, but we are the ones that will inherit the consequences.

To preserve and protect the natural systems upon which people, plants and animals depend, we must collectively overcome our reliance on fossil fuels. Every person, corporation, organization and government has a role to play.

Despite our state's green reputation, Vermont has not made the necessary action to achieve its climate goals. Since 1990, Vermont's carbon emissions have risen by 16 percent, while climate pollution in all of our neighboring states has fallen.

Taking in consideration Vermont's inability to reduce emissions over our lifetimes, and the startling results of the latest United Nations climate change report, we believe now is the time to show policymakers in Montpelier that the climate crisis requires immediate legislative action.

That's why a coalition of

Vermont middle school, high school, college and graduate school students are uniting at the State House on Sunday for the Vermont Youth Climate Congress.

Our goal: draft, refine, and ratify a declaration of freedom from fossil fuels and a resolution urging policymakers to protect the future by taking immediate action to address the climate crisis.

As young Vermonters representing the generation that is least responsible for climate pollution, but who will live longest with the consequences of global warming, we will unite in our state capitol to accept what science is telling us, express our frustration with Vermont's inaction in the face of this emergency, offer concrete solutions commensurate to the challenge, and demand that our small state do everything in its power to protect our future.

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This is not a hoax. The climate emergency threatens all Vermonters' rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Given the stakes, it is reasonable and rational to expect that Vermont's governor and the General Assembly would move this state resolutely toward carbon neutrality with care and attention to all people.

If we don't transform the way we generate and use energy the climate crisis will only get worse.

But our fate is not

predetermined. There is hope. As young people, we are the ones with the most to gain if Vermont leads the transition to a cleaner, more equitable and prosperous future. We are inspired to act by Vermont's history of leadership on challenging issues such as slavery and same sex marriage.

We are also inspired by our friends and fellow students who, in just the last year, have gone on climate strike by the thousands, marched from Middlebury to Montpelier, urged action through song in the State House foyer, testified in committees and risked arrest — all in the name of getting adults to protect our futures.

Young Vermonters have rallied, camped, marched and protested for climate action. On Sunday, we'll meet inside the House of Representatives chamber and demonstrate what bold climate legislation should look like.

No one is too small to make a difference, and that includes our brave little state of Vermont.

Want to learn more or even send a delegation to the Congress? All the details are at VermontYouthCongress.com.

Lili Platt and Evelyn Seidner are Vermont Youth Lobby organizers and students at Harwood Union High School and Burr & Burton Academy, respectively. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.


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