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US Why youth climate change activists are pushing Biden to do more

13:35  21 april  2021
13:35  21 april  2021 Source:   abcnews.go.com

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Climate activists rallied in New York’s Union Square on Monday with a message for the Biden administration: Time is running out, but it is not too late. Along with demands to end fossil fuel reliance, activist leaders unveiled an addition to the digital " climate clock" displayed on a building above the The clock now shows the amount of the world's energy supplied from renewable sources, currently at 12% and slowly rising. A timer counts down the years, days and seconds that scientists estimate are left to reach net zero carbon emissions and avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change .

Climate activists rallied in New York’s Union Square on Monday with a message for the Biden administration: Time is running out, but it is not too late. Along with demands to end fossil fuel reliance, activist leaders unveiled an addition to the digital “ climate clock” displayed on a building above the Both actions were priorities for environmental activists . “This is a huge issue for my generation,” said Xiye Bastida, another leader in the youth action movement. Bastida praised Biden ’s focus on equality and environmental justice. “We want to bring this element of urgency, but we don’t want things done in

The faces of climate change activism have been dominated by young people in recent years, from Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg to thousands of young people organizing and protesting in the United States.

As Joe Biden prepares to host a climate change summit on his first Earth Day in office, ABC News spoke to a group of young activists with diverse views on what they hope to see from the president.

Levi Draheim, 13, is the youngest plaintiff in a lawsuit where a group of young people sued the Obama administration, and later the Trump administration, for failing to address climate change. He said he got involved because he loves being outside swimming and sailing in his hometown in Satellite Beach, Florida, but he's already seen the impact of climate change in his community -- dunes are eroding, increasing the risk of flooding.

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Mr. Biden ’s advisers insist that climate change is not just a political slogan. And on Capitol Hill, his team is already strategizing with Democratic leaders on how they can realistically turn at least some of those proposals into law. “All three are vital, and climate is not going to be the caboose.” If Mr. Biden wins, he will face a dilemma he knows well — so much to do , and so little time. As a newly inaugurated vice president, he and Barack Obama dove first into passing an economic recovery bill in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, then focused on the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Biden has said he intends to assemble a “ climate world summit” to press leaders of the big industrial nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions more aggressively. 3. Reverse energy rollbacks. Several experts said he is likely to replace it with one declaring his administration’s intention to cut greenhouse gases and instructing all government agencies to look for ways to do so. 4. Make climate part of coronavirus relief. The Biden administration will very likely push to include clean energy provisions in any new economic stimulus measures Congress considers.

a group of people posing for a photo in front of a television screen © ABC News

"If the dunes erode," he said, "then there will be a higher chance that the barrier island that I grew up on will be flooded, and [we] won't be able to show that to my baby sister -- or if I have children, I wouldn't be able to show it to my kids. We really need to be able to focus on the small things like that."

Levi Draheim, the youngest plaintiff in a lawsuit against the government for failing to address climate change, talks with ABC News on April 9, 2021. © ABC News Levi Draheim, the youngest plaintiff in a lawsuit against the government for failing to address climate change, talks with ABC News on April 9, 2021.

"Individually, we need to make sure that we're doing all that we can and we're educating ourselves -- educating ourselves on what is happening just in our community -- so that we'll be able to take action that way," he added. "And then, like, globally we need to all think about, like, policy changes that will be enacted to help to protect the Earth.

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Climate change in the past was more like the adults were the ones involved. When the children are involved, the adults take it more seriously, because they are the future. This generation has the power of technology. So this generation is able to mobilize. The older generation, you probably had someone fighting for climate change in Brooklyn, for Hilary Brueck/Insider. What do you do to fight climate change ? I facilitated a youth leadership camp focused on why leadership is important in combating climate change . First, we educate them about leadership, and about the impacts of climate change .

MORE: 5 youth climate activists you need to know

John Paul Mejia also said his roots in Florida motivated him to become a climate activist.

His hometown of Miami "is beautiful and a place that is filled with people that I love, and I know how much the climate crisis threatens us," he said. "And so to give up, to not have ambition, to not pursue goals at the scope of the crisis means to me that I'm giving up on my people. That I consider my people disposable. That I'm not ready to fight tooth and nail to defend people in places I love."

Virat Kohli wearing a striped shirt and smiling at the camera: John Paul Mejia, a climate activist with Sunrise Coalition, speaks with ABC News on April 9, 2021. © ABC News John Paul Mejia, a climate activist with Sunrise Coalition, speaks with ABC News on April 9, 2021.

Silas Neeland, a 13-year-old member of the White Earth Nation, said his community also motivates him in his activism against a Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Neeland recently traveled to Washington, D.C., with the Indigenous Environmental Network to ask Biden to halt pipeline construction.

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President Biden will make the needs of low-income Americans and communities of color the focus of his plan Wednesday, according to two individuals briefed on it, making environmental justice a top priority for the first time in a generation. The president plans far-reaching actions to cut carbon emissions, aid polluted communities and shift the nation away from fossil fuels. The administration will treat climate change ‘as the emergency that it is ,’ one top adviser says. Activist Hilton Kelley began speaking out for his predominantly Black neighborhood, Port Arthur, Tex., when he got fed up “always

Biden and his climate envoy, John Kerry, will host a virtual summit of 40 world leaders to discuss the climate crisis and seek new commitments from the world’s biggest carbon emitters to fulfil the 2015 Paris agreement. Japan has submitted an NDC barely improved since its 2015 pledge, so is under pressure to do more . South Korea is also expected to update its NDC. Some countries, including Brazil, Mexico and Australia, have set out plans that green experts regard as insufficient, or that because of shifting baselines represent backsliding compared with the commitments they took on at

Neeland lives in Rice Lake, Minnesota, and said he's concerned the pipeline could leak and pollute the Wild Rice River, where his tribe still harvests rice.

"Water is life, we're made out of mostly water, everything's made out of water," he added. " Wild rice, my ancestors harvested it -- you know my kids are gonna harvest it."

a person posing for the camera: Silas Neeland, 13, a member of the White Earth Nation, talks to ABC News about his activism with the Indigenous Environmental Network, on April 9, 2021. © ABC News Silas Neeland, 13, a member of the White Earth Nation, talks to ABC News about his activism with the Indigenous Environmental Network, on April 9, 2021.

The young activists said they want to see Biden live up to the promises he made during the campaign to make climate change one of his top priorities.

Mejia is a rising college freshman who works with the Sunrise Coalition, a group of youth climate activists that burst onto the national stage during protests on Capitol Hill in support of the Green New Deal. He said he wants Biden to fulfill his promise for aggressive action that can "tackle this crisis at the speed, scope and scale necessary, by enacting government-wide plans ... completely transform our infrastructure over the next 10 years, to go from a very carbon-intensive, dirty, dangerous economy to one that's clean."

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Brooklyn Brown, a high school junior, works with a conservative climate group called the American Conservation Coalition. She grew up in Utah near beautiful outdoor spaces, like Zion National Park, and said she's noticed an increase in air pollution nearby.

"I'm sure all of us here can agree what we need to do is look to science and look to evidence," Brown said. "When we look at what the data suggests, then we can find solutions -- instead of supporting a politician, support evidence and data ... no matter where we are in the political spectrum."

a woman smiling for the camera: Brooklyn Brown, a junior in high school and activist with the American Conservation Coalition, talks to ABC News on April 9, 2021. © ABC News Brooklyn Brown, a junior in high school and activist with the American Conservation Coalition, talks to ABC News on April 9, 2021.

Mejia agreed that climate change is too vital to be bogged down by politics.

"Bridging the divide, like Brooklyn said, is absolutely something that's necessary," Mejia added. "No matter the color of your skin or how much money you have in your pocket, you have the right to clean air, clean water, a livable future and good health, and that's what we're fighting for."

For more on this story check out the "It's Not Too Late: Earth Day Special," available on hulu and streaming on ABC News Live at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 22.

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