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Jeff Clark: Students are inspiring when it comes to climate change fight

  • Amherst Regional eighth-graders Leah Neuberger, left, and Maria Konieczny attend a rally on the Amherst Common hosted by high school students as part of the global Fridays For Future movement to protest lack of action on climate change on Friday, March 15, 2019. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 4/1/2019 3:45:12 PM

Students who are striking to bring attention to the coming climate crisis, both here in Amherst and across the world, are inspiring. They see the threat to their future, but don’t see the action.

I first found out about the threat of global warming when I was in college. That was 40 years ago. I have worked to conserve energy, promote renewables and vote my conscience over that time. I have also come to realize that nothing is going to address the magnitude of the threat if we don’t change our public policies. The good news is there are concrete proposals in front of both Congress and Massachusetts Legislature.

The first piece of Congressional legislation submitted this year is the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H. Res. 763), which takes a market approach to lowering the use of carbon-based fuels by charging a fee at the fuels’ source and rebating the money back to citizens. This has been followed by the Green New Deal (FI. Res. 109/S. Res. TBD). Though this is a nonbinding resolution, it paints a vision of how we can redirect investments and efforts to build a low-carbon future.

The state Legislature is working on many positive proposals. An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure and Reduce Carbon Emissions (HD 2370) has a similar approach to carbon fees and dividends as the federal bill. An Act to Advance Modern and Sustainable Solutions for Transportation (SD 1542/HD 3009) proposes regionwide funding for a transition of our transportation infrastructure. An Act Relative to Environmental Justice (SD 1885/HD 3878) provides protection for lower income communities against the impacts of environmental pollution and climate change. House Speaker Robert DeLeo is also working on funding for communities that are being directly impacted by the effects of climate change.

Every citizen should get familiar with these bills. Find an approach you like. Then, write or call your representatives until they commit to sponsor or vote for it. That is the only way our government will take action. Our young people will appreciate your help.

Jeff Clark


The author is a member of Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst’s Green Sanctuary Committee and of Citizens Climate Lobby, Pioneer Valley Chapter.

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