“Only one world” and “No more excuses” read the signs a Concord Academy student delegation carried down Main Street the evening of February 19. At the Concord Town House, the group of 10 CA students appeared before the Concord Select Board, successfully proposing and advocating for a symbolic resolution in support of the Green New Deal climate action legislation now before Congress.
Organizing as part of Sunrise, a national youth movement to address climate change and create millions of jobs in the process, the students were some of many around the country appealing to city councils, town boards, and county commissions last week, in the hope that widespread local support will push federal action on the Green New Deal resolutions put forth by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“We call on you to stand up for a just and liveable future,” Sae Gleba ’20 said in her opening statement to the Select Board. Angie Minichiello ’21 followed her, sharing her fears for family and friends harmed and displaced by climate change-related natural disasters.
“The resolutions are the first that tackle climate change in line with what science and justice demand,” Audrey Lin ’19 then said forcefully. “There is no more time to be idle on climate action if our generation is to have a safe and liveable future.”
In her concluding remarks, Anna Sander ’20 commended the town of Concord’s sustainability efforts, which have included becoming the first community in the United States to ban the sale of plastic water bottles. “Help us demonstrate to the federal government that this issue must be acted upon now,” she urged.
After briefly deliberating and commending the students for their leadership, the Select Board voted unanimously to adopt the resolution.
Angie Minichiello ’21 (left) and Sae Gleba ’20 (right) speaking before the Concord Select Board.
Liam Campbell ’20 says he appreciated the opportunity to engage with the local government and see how it works. The students also met and earned the support of many Concordians active in sustainability efforts prior to approaching the Select Board.
“So many people were supportive of our efforts,” says Nat Edmonds ’20. “So many came up to us at the Town House before the meeting started to wish us well.”
The approval of this resolution culminated considerable student-led efforts throughout the year, including a presentation to the CA student body, a rally, petition, and the encouragement of students to advocate with their local and national representatives. Audrey and Anna led weekly meetings and phone calls and liaised every Sunday night with high schoolers across America through the national Sunrise organization. They benefitted from advice and mentorship from CA faculty and staff as well as a Sunrise coach at Tufts University.
The students are eager to discuss what they find most compelling about the Green New Deal proposal. “It’s the only piece of legislation that really scales to the scope of the problem,” Anna says. “It’s using solutions that we have ready right now and implementing them in a way that could transform the economy.”
Audrey Lin agrees and adds that she’s also drawn to the Green New Deal as a “solution that is trying to right historical injustices and address the social inequities in this country.”
Buoyed by their success, the students are looking ahead to ways CA students can participate in a national youth climate strike, which will take place in March during the school’s spring break. Audrey says she hopes to facilitate CA students’ participation in a Road to a Green New Deal tour, since Boston will be the first stop.
“There are invaluable skills you can learn by going to a conference like that,” she says. A Sunrise Boston Hub Core Team member, Audrey is joining a national planning committee to get high school and college graduation speakers to give time from their speeches to talk about the Green New Deal.
The urgency of acting is clear to these students. “Change has to happen if we want to carry on life as we know it,” Anna says. “We can’t keep going the way we’re going.”