‘Now is the time to treat climate change like the wildfire that it is,’ says CEJ superstar

Two superstar middle-school student writers and climate advocates had among the most memorable messages to lawmakers Wednesday during a marathon hearing at the Oregon State Capitol, in my own humble opinion.

They spoke among:

  • CEOs and small businesses making the economic case for passage,
  • labor representatives voicing support for the workforce and wage standards,
  • farmers and agriculture advocates who are ready to be part of the solution,
  • equity and faith leaders supporting investment in front line and economically distressed communities,
  • and environmental experts who have studied emissions reductions and how well these programs are working in other jurisdictions.

Supporters of the bill hailed its potential to create jobs and the potential to invest millions of dollars in communities most impacted by climate change in rural and urban areas of the state. They said this bill is a decade in the making, is tailored to Oregon, and is ready for passage now.

I admit I may be a bit biased because I’ve gotten to know Jeremy Clark and Charlie Abrams over the last few months, but when these two young men — who recently received major international recognition — talk about climate, I listen. They have impactful yet simple messages about one’s own responsibility to fight climate change.

In front of lawmakers, Jeremy and Charlie delivered thoughts about the urgent need to act on climate change. They said state leaders should take on the responsibility of leading our nation toward a clean energy economy with less pollution.  For Jeremy and Charlie, the summer of catastrophic weather events provided the clearest sign that our state can’t wait any longer to require the largest greenhouse gas emitters to pay to pollute.

“Now is the time to treat climate change like the wildfire that it is,” Jeremy said. “Now is the time to save my generation’s future. Now is the time to pass Clean Energy Jobs.”

Charlie added and noted that some opponents claimed Oregon already ranked low in carbon emission among the 50 states, and questioned the need for the bill.

“I think it’s funny that other people were saying that Oregon was the sixth lowest greenhouse gas emitter in the U.S., and in school I’ve never really tried to get sixth place in something,” Charlie said. “On the learning curve, that’s like a C+, so I don’t think sixth is a place to stop at. We need to get to first, and we can do that with the Clean Energy Jobs bill. Because after all, my future shouldn’t see three hurricanes in a month, and it shouldn’t see “record-breaking” on every headline. It doesn’t need to see whole cities run out of water. This wasn’t a desire 50 years ago, and we can make it not (a desire) now.”

Oregon Environmental Council was proud to join our partners and Oregonians from around the state (many who traveled long distances) to testify for passage of Clean Energy Jobs in 2018.  Check out some of our favorites from the public hearing below:


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