Youth urge for global changes at Power Shift ’09 in Washington, DC, USA. From Friday, February 27 to Monday, March 2, some 12,000 student leaders from all 50 United States, all 13 Canadian provinces and territories, and more than a dozen countries around the world gathered in the United States capital to express their shared concern about climate change. Another group of approximately 2500 citizens arrived on Monday, seeking the government’s support for halting the use of coal, with renowned US climatologist Dr. James Hansen present to lend his voice to the call.
Andy Makem – Power Shift Participant (M): We’re here to get Congress to pass some legislation to dramatically decrease carbon output worldwide.
Haley Fongemean – Power Shift Participant (F): I think we’re also here to show Congress that we need this change now. We’re not going away. We’re making this happen now.
VOICE: The students united as one voice, calling for policy makers to switch to clean alternative energy that would bring brighter opportunities for future generations.
Veronica Hooker Power Shift Participant (F): We want to increase sustainability worldwide on all aspects, from energy to communities to the way we treat people to eating meat.
VOICE: Keynote speakers at the conference included Lisa Jackson, Chief of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Ken Salazar, United States Secretary of the Department of the Interior; United States Congress representatives Donna Edwards and Ed Markey; Jerome Ringo from the National Wildlife Federation; and Van Jones, president of Green for All, among other distinguished speakers. A briefing between the dignitaries and youth leaders was held. Among the many panels and workshops were several on the urgent issue of agriculture’s role in climate change.
Doreen Stabinsky – Greenpeace International (F): How Greenpeace sees agriculture: Agriculture is part of the climate problem, but agriculture is also possibly part of the climate solution.
Meredith Niles – Cool Foods Campaign coordinator, Center for Food Safety, USA (F): How much of our policies are focused on increasing fuel standards for cars or trying to promote driving less, or public transportation. That’s 14%. Meat production is 18%. So there’s a fundamental disconnect here among our policymakers and two, I think the average American people and people around the world, about the role that meat production plays in climate change.
Meredith Niles (F):There are ways that are institutionalized that allow this type of agriculture to continue, to be subsidized and to be perpetuated, at the expense of our climate and our own health. Let's give carbon offsets to organic farmers, who scientifically are proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and put more carbon in the soil.
University student, Power Shift Participant (M): I’m aware that it’s a major issue, and it will be a solution because students can take action. Make their cafeterias vegetarian. It’s a personal choice and it’s one that everybody needs to take.
For more information about Power Shift 2009, please visit powershift09.org
VOICE: Hats off to all the courageous youth, citizens, supportive government leaders and others involved who made Power Shift 2009 a great success. With the younger generations having spoken, let us take heed now by choosing sustainable ways to live for the planet’s survival and wellbeing of all.