On Monday evening, the White House hosted a panel promoting fossil fuels at the UN Climate Change Negotiations in Bonn, Germany. They brought in an executive from Peabody Coal, NuScale Power, and other fossil fuel representatives to promote coal as “clean energy.” Unavoidably, they were proven wrong. With our hands over our hearts, around 200 people from across the globe rose in song to stand against the US administration’s message. I was one of the core team of 15 people that organized this massive walkout.
We disrupted their lies with song, singing to the tune of “God Bless the USA.” “So you claim to be an American, but we see right through your greed,” we sang as we held our hands over our hearts. After occupying the panel for 10 minutes, we walked out and left the White House and fossil fuel representatives talking to themselves while we gathered with hundreds more young people and global allies outside of the room who weren’t able to get inside.
These past two weeks, thousands from around the world have gathered in Bonn for the UN Climate Negotiations. On the second day, Syria joined the Paris Agreement, making the United States the only country not participating in this historical framework to solve the global climate crisis. It shows that the Trump administration is completely isolated and acting as a rogue nation, failing to support not only the interests of the international community but also its own people. As the world prepares to move forward with or without the US, the American people who are still in to fight for climate justice are welcomed with open arms.
It’s clear we cannot count on this administration to protect our families and loved ones. Monday’s panel showed how the US government has been bought out by the fossil fuel elite. I am here as an official youth delegate with SustainUS to represent the young people in the US who are worried about what climate change means for our futures. I’m scared and angry because climate change is accelerating while our government has been corrupted by fossil fuel CEOs and the politicians they’ve bought out.
This summer, Phoenix experienced record-breaking high temperatures. Pictures of melting trash cans and mailboxes in Phoenix went viral throughout the country. Heat-related deaths are projected to increase more in Arizona than most of the US. As each year passes with record-breaking temperatures, I feel more and more scared of the place I call home.
As a young person, the melting trashcans, uncontrollable fires, and relentless storms of 2017 weigh heavily on my mind. These occurrences are clear signs of our changing world, a sneak peek into the future world we will have to live in if we don’t stop climate change. On a warming planet, how will we grow enough food, have enough water, and protect ourselves from increasing heat in the Southwest?
Our region, the Colorado Plateau, is an energy sacrifice zone within the US. This means that some of the most intensive and extractive energy infrastructure in the nation lurks in our backyards. Fracking wells poison our water, uranium mining spreads cancer among our people, and coal-fired power plants pollute our air. It is no accident that such a large portion of our region is also tribal land, and that so much of the health risks fall disproportionately onto tribal communities.
It feels as if the world is reaching its tipping point, and we are at a crossroads. We can choose to let the few, wealthy fossil fuel barons who have infiltrated our governments continue to worsen the melting trashcans, spark uncontrollable fires, and fuel destructive storms that are tearing our world apart. Or, we can fight back against these few individuals and build a world where everyone, no matter their ZIP code, has access to clean air, clean water and a stable climate. I’m fighting for a world that is livable for all of us. Are you?