The 9th annual Youth Climate Lobby Day at the Minnesota State Capitol began with a Summit in the Governor’s Reception Room. This opening event included Governor Dayton, Lt. Governor Smith and a packed room full of young people. It featured a powerful panel of youth speakers representing partner organizations, including MPIRG, Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. I was given the amazing opportunity to open the youth summit and facilitate the conversation with the Governor and Lt.Governor as well as share our requests around pushing for a climate-resilient future. The stories were heartfelt, the requests were well received for the most part, and there was celebration about the administration’s support of a 50% Renewable Energy Standard (RES) by 2030.
The power in the Governor’s chamber that morning was incredible. The room was full of nearly 200 empowered youth. Students across Minnesota generated over 1,000 postcards that supported our climate justice policy platform, which calls for: a 50% RES by 2030; supporting the authority of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC); advancing pathways to clean energy jobs for marginalized groups; and increasing the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard to 2% to ensure energy conservation efforts remain prioritized. The Governor and Lt.Governor gave their responses to the youth in the room after hearing our climate stories. MPR wrote and broadcast an article about the Summit, quoting a line from my opening speech: “Even with the current political landscape, we cannot let this conversation fade. Clean water, a healthy environment and a secure climate-resilient future are not partisan issues.”
The successful Summit generated a lot of excitement and enthusiasm that carried through the rest of Lobby Day. From the Governor’s Reception Room, we all convened at a nearby church for a quick issue briefing and lobby training. This powerful youth space remained alive throughout the morning and afternoon, with workshops, activities, and intentional conversations taking place. Students went to lobby meetings with their legislators throughout the day, and we also got the chance to take a stand in an environmental committee hearing about a proposed bill to remove the state Environmental Quality Board (EQB). It was inspiring to see students testifying against the bill. Youth Lobby Day was a light in the dark for climate issues, proving the power of youth voices on this issue and that hope remains for a bipartisan advancement of climate action in Minnesota.