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    December 11, 2018 | 8:00 AM

    Students Rising: Young Climate Activists Are Making Waves

    Millennials and Generation Z have been saddled with more than their fair share of unfair and frankly false descriptors. You probably overhear at least one of them each day: Lazy. Unprofessional. Entitled. Unmotivated. But we know better.

    So, what do we call our young activists? Fearless.

    We know that, nationally, their voices are too seldom heard. And at Climate Reality, we work hard alongside dedicated young people to fight for a sustainable future. But with staggeringly low youth turnout numbers during the last few elections, and with the climate movement facing one of its most challenging moments, we also know that time for young people to turn those numbers around is now.

    "Some of the most inspiring activists… are young people who have taken up this cause around the world” – Vice President Al Gore, Founder & Chairman, The Climate Reality Project 

    Federal Inaction Won’t Stop the Youth Movement 

    Student Climate Reality Leaders are making their voices heard at the federal level, demanding nationwide action to stop a global crisis that could hit their generation the hardest.

    Following the 2017 Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Washington State, 16-year-old Jamie Margolin founded Zero Hour, a youth-led movement for young activists and organizers to speak up about climate change and environmental justice. With support from organizations like Zero Hour, 21 young plaintiffs, including five Climate Reality Leaders, are currently wending their way through our complicated court system with Juliana vs. United States, a landmark federal climate lawsuit.

    These young activists are demanding a national climate plan, arguing that the current federal inaction on climate change is costing their generation their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Their bravery has inspired many members of our Campus Corps chapters on college campuses across the country to drive similar action at the local level.

    100% Committed to Clean Electricity, 100% Committed to the Youth Movement

    Our Campus Corps chapters are the heart of Climate Reality’s youth movement. With help from Climate Reality staff, Campus Corps chapters push their schools to embrace clean electricity and sustainability for a better tomorrow. We’ve seen victory after victory at the campus level, including Chatham University’s recent commitment to 100 percent clean electricity.

    Following our training in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last year, Chatham University Campus Corps Chapter Chair Kacie Stewart and several chapter members worked hard to convince Chatham University President David Finegold to pledge to transition their university to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity by 2030 – a commitment he happily made (pictured).

    “Chatham University has the power to be a force for climate solutions in our community and this commitment is an important first step,” said Stewart. “The climate crisis touches all of us, and I am so proud to see our university leading by example to implement practical measures with the power to make our campus and the world a better place.”

    With this commitment, Chatham University joins many other businesses, universities, and towns who have pledge to do the same as part of our 100% Committed campaign.

    University of California: Clean and Committed

    One of the biggest youth wins we’ve seen this year happened when the University of California system pledged to run its campuses and medical centers on 100 percent clean electricity by 2025. The system has also pledged to be operationally carbon neutral by that same year.

    Our University of California Santa Barbara Campus Corps chapter got this conversation started back in March 2017, when Haley Nieh, former UCSB chapter chair, and Anna Whitney, Berkeley chapter chair, met with Matt St. Clair from the UC Office of the President Sustainability Director to ask him to sign our 100% Committed pledge. Although St. Clair could not sign on at the time, the meeting instigated the development of a climate action plan for the system – which eventually led the system back to the chapter’s initial ask.

    The UC system made its commitment to a better tomorrow this past September.

    Your Voice is Your Power – Use It   

    The youth voice is strong and powerful, and our dedicated and motivated Campus Corps chapters and youth leaders are setting a high bar for their generation.

    Campus Corps chapters connect you with like-minded climate activists looking to make real change on university campuses just like yours. With Climate Reality as a resource, Campus Corps chapters offer the tools and taught the skills to run a successful campaign to create long-lasting, meaningful change both on and off campus.

    Check to see if your campus has a Climate Reality chapter you can join here. If it doesn’t, consider starting your own Campus Corps chapter by reaching out to

    Not a student? Climate Reality also has local public chapters in communities across the country. These friends, neighbors, and colleagues are bringing clean energy to their towns, fighting fracking developments, and so much more. Most of all, they’re making a real difference for our climate when it matters – and you can too.

    Discover if your community has an established chapter here.

    Before You Go

    At Climate Reality, we work hard to create high-quality educational content like blogs, e-books, videos, and more to empower people all over the world to fight for climate solutions and stand together to drive the change we need. We are a nonprofit organization that believes there is hope in unity, and that together, we can build a safe, sustainable future.

    But we can't do it without your help.

    If you enjoyed what you’ve just read and would like to see more, please consider making a generous gift to support our ongoing work to fight climate denial and support solutions.

    The Climate Reality Project