Youth Power Shift Towards Green Energy

In coalition with more than 100 students, youth and ally organizations including Greenpeace USA and Community Energy, Inc, the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) has unleashed a “Youth Power Shift” campaign focused on instigating a large-scale transition of energy systems in the United States, starting with local institutions. Students are campaigning for a transition away from coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear power towards more environmentally and socially desirable energy choices like wind and solar energy.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – October 20 2003 [] This “Shift” includes students at the University of Chicago allied with a local Latino community against two outdated power plants that are the largest source of air and mercury pollution in Chicago, Illinois. It includes students pressing for better conservation and efficiency programs in Ithaca, New York; Youngstown, Ohio; and Burlington, Vermont. It includes youth who have conducted energy and greenhouse gas audits of their schools in California, Oregon, and North Carolina. It includes students at Eastern University in Pennsylvania raising money for a clean power project in rural Africa. Finally, the “Power Shift” includes students who are pressing their schools to raise the bar for clean energy purchasing. This Shift has already made an impact at many institutions. More than 40 Higher Education Institutions are currently purchasing over 107,809 MWh of Wind Energy, including University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University – State College, University at Buffalo, Catholic University of America, Carnegie Mellon University, Penn State University, and Eastern University. Youth Power Shift of 2003 has grown out of the Cornell University Greens’ “Kyoto Now!” Campaign. Students at Cornell saw an opportunity to push their university to take action to meet the standards of the Kyoto Protocol treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions even as the US government was sitting on the fence. Now, students and youth nationally are building off of these victories at Cornell and other places to pressure their institutions to follow the lead of their peers. This movement has been built mainly by a decentralized, committed collection of students and youth engaged in outreach, information sharing, materials development, and a diversity of local actions from within their schools. Nationally, the campaign has used bi-monthly conference calls, two different email listservs, and one-on-one communication to create a networking website, an “Action Packet” to aid local efforts, and a Power Directory of energy-related speakers, energy advisors, and youth coordinators. The Youth Power Shift campaign is holding a National Day of Action on November 13. A diverse number of local actions are being planned around the country to coincide with the event. The campaign has set a goal of 25 groups taking action on that Thursday to show solidarity and to send a their message to their schools and communities. Youth Power Shift organizers said that they want to demonstrate their belief that while the US government continues to pose a threat to peace and sustainability worldwide, young people in the US are committed to shifting the power system in this country towards justice, starting in the places where they live.
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