Archive for the 'North East' Category

BREAKING: U.S. Youth Ejected from Climate Talks While Calling Out Congress’s Failure

Abigail Borah calls out Congress and the Obama Administration's inaction at the UN climate talks in South Africa before being removed by security

Abigail Borah calls out Congress and the Obama Administration's inaction at the UN climate talks in South Africa before being removed by security. credit: Katherine Rainone, SustainUS

Durban, South Africa – After nearly two weeks of stalled progress by the United States at the international climate talks, U.S. youth spoke out for a real, science-based climate treaty.  Abigail Borah, a New Jersey resident, interrupted the start of lead U.S. negotiator Todd Stern’s speech to call out members of Congress for impeding global climate progress, delivering a passionate call for an urgent path towards a fair and binding climate treaty. Stern was about to speak to international ministers and high-level negotiators at the closing plenary of the Durban climate change negotiations. Borah was ejected from the talks shortly following her speech.

Borah, a student at Middlebury College, spoke for U.S. negotiators because “they cannot speak on behalf of the United States of America”, highlighting that “the obstructionist Congress has shackled a just agreement and delayed ambition for far too long.” Her delivery was followed by applause from the entire plenary of leaders from around the world.

Since before the climate talks, the United States, blocked by a Congress hostile to climate action, has held the position of holding off on urgent pollution reductions targets until the year 2020. Studies from the International Energy Agency, numerous American scientists, and countless other peer-reviewed scientific papers show that waiting until 2020 to begin aggressive emissions reduction would cause irreversible climate change, including more severe tropical storms, worsening droughts, and devastation affecting communities and businesses across America.  Nevertheless, the United States has held strong to its woefully inadequate and voluntary commitments made in the Copenhagen Accord in 2009 and the Cancun Agreement in 2010.

“2020 is too late to wait,” urged Borah. “We need an urgent path towards a fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty.”

The U.S. continues to negotiate on time borrowed from future generations, and with every step of inaction forces young people to suffer the quickly worsening climate challenges that previous generations have been unable and unwilling to address.

Photos are available here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sustainus

Video here:

http://youtu.be/XDQxg7F2j1s

And check out – U.S. Youth Say “2020: It’s too late to wait”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQVpZQ1UlKw

Full text of Abigail’s speech:

I am speaking on behalf of the United States of America because my negotiators cannot.  The obstructionist Congress has shackled justice and delayed ambition for far too long.  I am scared for my future.  2020 is too late to wait.  We need an urgent path to a fair ambitious and legally binding treaty.

you must take responsibility to act now, or you will threaten the lives of youth and the world’s most vulnerable.

You must set aside partisan politics and let science dictate decisions.  You must pledge ambitious targets to lower emissions not expectations.  Citizens across the world are being held hostage by stillborn negotiations.

We need leaders who will commit to real change, not empty rhetoric.  Keep your promises. Keep our hope alive. 2020 is too late to wait.

Activists Follow Obama and White House Press Corps to Martha’s Vineyard

Obama Martha's vinyard tar sandsAs I sit on the ferry from Oaks Bluff, Martha’s Vineyard back to the mainland it is hard not to think of the people who are currently sacrificing their body and individual rights outside the White House at this very moment. We traveled out to the Vineyard to follow our President Barack Obama and hand-deliver press packets for the Tar Sands Action to the White House Press Corps that surround him in order to remind them the key role that the President can play in future of the Keystone XL pipeline.  Stopping the construction of this pipeline will halt a cascade of environmental impacts (“sure”?  sounds a bit awkward) and begin to fulfill the campaign promises that engaged so many in 2008.  Our mission to the Vineyard today was a simple but impacting way to support this growing movement to inspire the President to do the right thing.  I encourage you to find your way to contribute.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is Obama’s chance to turn tides and start to regain support from the many that voted him into office. The same people that slept on the floors of churches taking workshops on grassroots political campaigning are now using the same trainings to prepare to be arrested outside his front door in D.C. Continue reading ‘Activists Follow Obama and White House Press Corps to Martha’s Vineyard’

Students Stand Up and Say “No More Coal”!


Yesterday more progress was made in the effort to move the state of Massachusetts beyond coal and towards a clean energy revolution. The Utility and Telecommunications Committee had open public hearings for several proposed bills which call for an end to fossil fuel dependence in the state, one of which was written by students from Students for a Just and Stable Future (http://justandstable.org/). The hearing started with an introduction of the bills by Rep. Eherlich from the 8th Essex District, who continued to explain how organizing around the coal power plant in her community is what drove her to first become civically engaged.The hearing was well attended by concerned community members, public health advocate groups as well as students from across the state.

After Representative Eherlich spoke, members from Environmental League Massachusetts and the Sierra Club outlined the health risks posed by coal power plants. The Sierra Club also offered reference to their recent publication on how renewable energy sources can replace the base load power for the grid which is presently generated by fossil fuels and nuclear power. Four members from Students for a Just and Stable Future then spoke on behalf of their drafted legislation, house docket #2625, which is entitled “An Act to Phase Out Coal Burning and Use”. Unlike other bills in front of the committee that ask for this to be done by the year 2020, Students for a Just and Stable Future believe that the issue demands more urgency and should be accomplished by 2015. The students who spoke addressed the many externalities pushed onto local communities and the environment throughout the coal commodity chain covering everything from the devastation due to mountain top removal to the effects emissions are having in the form of acid rain and global climate change.

Continue reading ‘Students Stand Up and Say “No More Coal”!’

Raising our voice for a Just and Stable Future

This Tuesday, student activists from New England had an exciting opportunity to present our Declaration for Clean Energy to leadership and press at the UN Conference of the Parties in Cancun, Mexico.

Students for a Just and Stable Future in front of the Massachusetts state house. The New England Coalition unites justice and sustainability issues and pressure the state government to act.

The Declaration for Clean Energy is a five page document written by 170 members of Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF), a New England based network of students who have united to fight climate change and work towards a just and stable future for all of humanity.  At the press conference in Cancun, student delegates presented our declaration with a statement demanding legitimate action from policymakers on all levels of United States government to pass meaningful comprehensive legislation on climate, and insisting that global leaders agree to a legally binding treaty that will return our global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to a safe level of less than 350 parts per million.

As the international negotiations begin to wrap up, it is clear that they will not produce any real results.  Powerful nations are refusing to hold themselves accountable, the seriousness of the science is still being ignored, and the voices of youth and disadvantaged communities are being shut out completely.  Ethan Buckner, a student delegate from the Sierra Student Coalition who presented on our behalf, had his badge taken away and was removed from the negotiations shortly after our press conference simply for participating in a march alongside youth from the global south, indigenous people, and environmental justice communities who are already suffering from the effects from climate change.  Simply put, International leaders are ignoring the voice of the people, and they think they can get away with it. Continue reading ‘Raising our voice for a Just and Stable Future’

No More Nonsense: New England Students Demand Clean Energy Future

Drafting the Decleration at Wesleyan

It is Sunday at approximately 4:15 pm, I waddle back to the bus, my eyes filled with sleep but my brain pounding with excitement. I just emerged from a basement classroom at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where, squished among a hundred and seventy other student activists, I had been helping to draft a declaration calling on  international leadership to stop powering our world with dirty energy.

In the lead up to this year’s Conference of the Parties which is taking place in Cancun, Mexico over the coming weeks, members of Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF) came together from schools all across New England for the express purpose of building the climate movement and preparing a declaration which will be delivered to policymakers across New England and the US, particularly those representing the US climate team in Cancun.

The Student Conference of the Parties was organized by SJSF, and held in partnership with the Wesleyan Pricing Carbon Conference, a national assembly of politicians, industry insiders, scientists, and organizers, to discuss the potential of carbon pricing as a bold and effective policy measure to address global climate change. We had the privilege of hearing from some of the most influential decision-makers and activists in the field, including 350.org founder Bill McKibben and NASA climatologist James Hansen. Continue reading ‘No More Nonsense: New England Students Demand Clean Energy Future’

Create Our Climate: Savages

The following is an excerpt from a science-fiction/future history story I am currently writing set in my home town. It is actually a piece of backstory. The story itself focuses on the society which arises a century after this conflict, in my attempt to envision a future we might hope to strive for. ~ Emily Jacke

Summer illuminates the treetops with gold and deepening shades of green. The dense foliage filters the light before it touches the ground below, patches of sun and shade flickering across the bracken and pine needles and loam. A wind hurries a creak from the bows of an ancient pine and rustles the soft leaves high above. Between two oaks a broken bike path wanders, the asphalt cracked, chunks strewn along the edges. Less than a century ago, lovers met here in the shade, paused on their titanium bicycles to look around, chugged water artificially infused with electrolytes from disposable plastic bottles, carved their names into the bark of two saplings. The lovers and their bicycles and their electrolytes are long gone now; the letters disappear into the trunk, raised scars in the bark swallowing themselves and their meaning.

Agent DH Storm 862, Senior Resource Reconnaissance Official for the Eastern American Army Expedition (DHS862 SRRO for the EAAE), dismounts his battered army scooter before the oaks, glancing up at the shadowy canopy above. The names on the trees do not impress him, their age does not fill him with awe; instead, after a quick evaluation of his surroundings, he makes a note on a clipboard and removes a can of paint from the holster on his bike. Nothing moves; the air is heavy. The quiet tears with the spraying noise of the paint marking a red X on the trunk of the tree. Instantly the air fills with the hissing of a dozen snakes. DHS862 stops, snaps the can efficiently back into the holster and draws his handgun, pointing it down at the ground. Continue reading ‘Create Our Climate: Savages’

The Right Thing to Do

Posted on behalf of Leila Quinn, Western Massachusetts Community Outreach Coordinator for Students for a Just and Stable Future and sophomore at Mt. Holyoke College

Aldo Leopold, the father of conservation biology, famously said, “A thing is right, when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

Due to this simple yet powerful message, I have no doubt that the actions of the Leadership Campaign are headed in the right direction.

This past Sunday, March 28th, at our second state-wide sleep out of the semester, more than one hundred college, high school, and graduate students gathered in a peaceful direct action on the Cambridge Common.

In the early afternoon students and community members from across the Commonwealth rallied for the cause of 100% clean electricity by 2020, a step essential to getting us down to the safe level of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And in the morning after sleeping-out, we headed to the Massachusetts State House and into the offices of Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo and Representative John Binienda, where we urged them to show real leadership on clean electricity.

Continue reading ‘The Right Thing to Do’

On The Road In New England

Spring has sprung and, on campuses and in communities across New England, thoughts are turning to summer.  It’s time to dust off that bike and hop on for the ultimate climate organizing experience for two months this summer, as we build student power and connect with active communities around New England to build a genuine peoples movement to solve the climate crisis.  In 2009, three intrepid teams of students gathered and biked through the Bay State with Massachusetts Climate Summer.  Building on their success at training leaders and reaching out to local communities, we’re going to make it bigger and better.  This summer Students for a Just and Stable Future, the folks behind the Leadership Campaign (you might have heard about the sleep-outs), is creating an opportunity for you to take up the call in New England Climate Summer, and we need you to join us.

What are YOU doing this summer?

Across the region and across the nation people are creating local solutions to address the climate crisis.  This summer teams of youth will pedal their way from town-to-town raising the profile of this important work and focusing energy and attention on the need for systemic changes.  They’ll be trained in first-rate organizing, and put it into practice for two months stitching together communities and campuses to build a bigger, better climate movement.  Join them!


Continue reading ‘On The Road In New England’

MA Bill Leaves Committee as Climate Court Hearings Continue

Cross-posted at The Leadership Campaign Blog

Today, An Act to Create a Repower Massachusetts Emergency Task Force — written by Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF) and others in The Leadership Campaign — was released from the Senate Ethics and Rules Committee during the 6th Day of Climate Court Hearings for the Boston Common Sleep-out.

Each day last week, citizen-activists marched from the Court House after paying their court fees to the State House to show legislators the depth and breadth of support for the bill.  Well over 100 people faced the courts last week for sleeping out on the Boston Common after the park had formally closed (a misdemeanor trespassing offense).

After scores of people visited his and other key legislator’s offices indicating their support, Senator Frederick Berry, Chair of the Senate Ethics & Rules Committee (and Senate Majority Leader) released the bill from his committee and moved it along to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy.

“We are extremely thankful to Senator Berry for releasing our bill from committee, opening debate to legislators across the state and allowing us to focus our energy on gathering the votes needed to pass it this spring,” said Martha Pskowski, Hampshire student and Western Massachusetts Legislative Coordinator for SJSF. Continue reading ‘MA Bill Leaves Committee as Climate Court Hearings Continue’

CT Gas Power Plant Explosion Reminds Fossil Fuels are Deadly

Area fire and ambulance crews arrive near the scene in Middletown, Conn., Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010. Multiple people have died in an explosion at a power plant in Connecticut and an unknown number of people are injured. (AP Photo/Richard Messina, Hartford Courant)

This morning, at 11:30 am, Middletown’s Kleen Energy Power Plant suffered a major explosion,  believed to be when a gas line caught fire during testing. Friends who work at the plant said that there were 50 – 100 construction workers, engineers, and plant managers who were inside. As of 12 pm, Middletown firefighters had only found 9 individuals. Since then, five* have been reported dead, with casualties and injuries expected to be many more. Firefighters from around the state came into the plant, with Hartford and Boston’s search-and-rescue teams both coming to Middletown to help clear the wreckage and free workers still stuck inside.

Workers at the plant were working long shifts, trying to finish the plant on a tight schedule. Matthew Lesser, Middletown’s representative to state government, said, “As I understand it, they were testing a gas line when the explosion took place but we’re not sure. Our first priority is making sure that everyone there is safe.” Continue reading ‘CT Gas Power Plant Explosion Reminds Fossil Fuels are Deadly’


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