By Mike Polhamus, VTDigger
Nearly 1,400 students descended on the state capitol Wednesday, April 12, for a rally against climate change.
High school students organized the event, which was conceived three years ago by students in a civics class at Harwood Union High School.
Several of the students provided testimony to legislators on the importance of reducing carbon dioxide releases into the atmosphere that are causing rapid climate change.
Mount Mansfield Union High School senior Graham Swaney testified in the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee in support of a tax on carbon pollution. Several representatives have recently proposed a carbon tax and a cap and trade program.
“One of the messages we want people to take away from this is, it’s very much our fight,” Swaney said. “It’s not about having other people do work for us. It’s on us to educate other Vermonters.”
Lawmakers said they appreciated hearing from the students.
Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, said one of the most powerful student comments he heard was “Climate change is not something you believe in, climate change is a fact, and we want you to act on that.”
Students said they’ll be more directly affected by climate change than most of their elders in the Legislature.
“It’s our future that’s really going to be paying” for inaction, said Kassidy Abair, a senior at Harwood Union High School. “It’s important that legislators who can make these changes realize that the youth want something to be done.”
Abair is one of 30 students from more than 20 schools who organized the event.
Photo by Michael Dougherty, VTDigger
Ludlow Elementary School students march down State Street in Montpelier as part of the Vt. Youth Rally.