PARA PUBLICACIÓN INMEDIATA: Thursday, September 14, 2023
CONTACTOS: Jess Grady-Benson, 541-816-2240, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashland Youth express climate urgency; demand city move forward next steps on transition away from fossil fuels
Youth lead climate rally and testify at Ashland Climate and Energy Policy Action Committee Meeting
[ASHLAND, OR] On Wednesday, September 13, members of the Ashland Youth for Electrification campaign led over 70 high school students and adult community members in the Rally for Climate and Clean Air at Lithia Park. Rally attendees emphasized the urgency of the climate crisis, and demanded that the city of Ashland act quickly in taking the next steps to pass an ordinance to transition new homes off of fossil fuels.
The Ashland Youth for Electrification campaign has been working closely with the city to develop this policy since the Youth Climate Walkout in March of 2023.
“We’re fighting for our present as well as our futures,” said Kiera Retiz, Ashland High School Junior. “We experience the effects of climate change daily, and fossil fuel companies are the main culprits. And the more we learn about the horrible health impacts from indoor gas appliances, like cancer and childhood asthma, the more we must fight for change.”
After the rally, youth and their supporters marched into Ashland’s Climate and Energy Policy Action Committee (CEPAC) meeting to demand that the committee prioritize and immediately take the next steps necessary to pass a policy that will limit the amount of fossil fuel emissions permitted in new residential construction, which would ultimately require a transition away from fossil fuels. Youth presented its members with masks to illustrate the urgency of the climate crisis and its impacts on the health of communities in the Rogue Valley.
“It’s been 5 years since Ashland passed the Climate and Energy Action Plan, but nothing has changed. We’ve been working with the city to develop this ordinance that would be a step for Ashland to take accountability for their climate goals–and transition new homes off of fossil fuels,” said Piper Banks, Ashland High School Junior. “And now we must do everything we can to pass it. There is no time to wait.”
“Here in the Rogue Valley, we’ve had yet another summer full of smoke, fire, and extreme heat that puts our communities in constant danger. The city needs to have our backs to protect our future: this is not only an opportunity to meet the urgency of the climate crisis, but also presents affordable and healthier ways for our communities to access heating and cooling systems that we increasingly depend on.,” said Livy Casey, Ashland High School Senior.
“Young people have been really leading the charge on this. And as adults, it’s our responsibility to listen and then use our power to support them. They’ve grown up with climate emergencies as their norm, and they will be dealing with these impacts long after we’re gone,” said Susie Garcia, Rogue Valley Coordinator at Rogue Climate.
Youth organizing efforts have been leading the city in efforts for climate action since 2017, when the youth-led Rogue Climate Action Team helped to pass the Climate and Energy Action Plan. Since then, high schoolers have held multiple walkouts and rallies to demand that the city follow through on the commitments from that plan.
The Rally for Climate and Clean Air was planned to coincide with other state and nationwide actions to demand that elected officials declare a climate emergency, like the youth-led Portland Climate Strike and the March to End Fossil Fuels that are scheduled over the next week.
Following powerful testimony by youth organizers and community supporters, the Climate and Environment Policy Advisory Committee passed the stakeholder engagement plan, which will give community members opportunities to give input into the policy. Thanks to the ongoing organizing of youth leaders, Ashland is taking steps towards passing an emissions standard for new homes.
About Ashland Youth for Electrification: Ashland Youth for Electrification is a campaign to transition residential homes in Ashland off of fossil fuels. The campaign is led by the Rogue Climate Action Team (RCAT), a group of youth focused on making change within their communities by organizing campaigns for climate justice in the Rogue Valley.
About Rogue Climate: Rogue Climate is a Southern Oregon based community organization that organizes for climate justice through stopping new fossil fuels, facilitating youth leadership development, and campaigns for a just transition to clean energy and energy efficiency.