Category Archives: #MyOceanPledge

Sign Florida’s Youth Climate Change Petition Today!

It’s our turn. It’s up to you and I, the youth of the world. Young people globally are going to have to do what adults before us have failed to do: solve our climate change crisis. And today I am pleased to share a way that young Floridians can use their voice to lead the way in demanding the type of change that we need to foster right here in Florida.

Young people all over the world frequently ask me “what can I do?” about our climate crisis and I am pleased to share a simple step that you can take today to make a positive, important difference.

As part of my ongoing efforts to get the state of Florida to begin addressing the core cause of our climate crisis, the use of fossil fuels, I’ve learned that in 2006 the Florida Legislature created a law that mandated an increase in the use of renewable energy and a reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels for electricity production. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I have also learned that in all years (15 and counting) the state and its agencies have done little to nothing to comply and that’s something I’d like to see change so that we can begin the transition to renewable energy, and away from fossil fuels, that forward thinking state lawmakers intended nearly two decades ago.

With this in mind some friends and I are trying to motivate our state to begin to follow the 2006 law by presenting something called a Petition for Rulemaking to formally ask Commissioner Fried to commence the process to lead us to sustainability. If she elects to support the Petition, that step will show she’s serious about addressing our climate crisis. And if she does not commence the rule making process she’ll prove that her frequent comments about our climate are meaningless and that she cares more about protecting the established polluters than protecting our future.

Here in Florida the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS), whose role in our government is to “promote[] Florida agriculture, protect[] the environment, safeguard[] consumers, and ensure[] the safety and wholesomeness of food.” Unfortunately for our climate, Florida’s government is not protecting our environment by curbing our fossil fuel use and carbon emissions – the cause of our climate change crisis. We need to change that and you can help by joining our petition.

With these things in mind I am pleased to announce our Florida youth led petition for rulemaking that demands that the FDCAS establish a goal to generate 100% of Florida’s electricity from renewable energy by 2050 and the steps to get us there. In doing so, the State of Florida and its government will be required under this rule to begin to plan and execute ways in which to accomplish that. You can find the petition by clicking here and I hope that Florida youth under the age of 25 will both sign it today and share it with all of your friends on social media. The more youth that voice their concern the better.

As you consider joining our youth led petition, here are some unfortunate facts to consider as motivation:

(1) Florida is ground zero for climate change. The climate crisis is already having devastating impacts on Florida: rising sea levels and resultant flooding, beach erosion and damage to coastal property, extreme damage to marine ecosystems, spread of infectious diseases, and increased severity of storms and extreme weather events. Florida’s tourism, agriculture, and recreation industries are all suffering. 

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(2) Florida is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S. Florida’s state government has known for decades of the dangers of climate change but has done little to protect its youngest citizens by taking aggressive action to avert the crisis.

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(3) Only 4.3% of Florida’s electricity comes from renewable sources, while natural gas makes up 75% of Florida’s electricity system. Even though the Florida legislature has mandated an increase in the use of renewable energy and a reduction in the state’s dependence on fossil fuels, Florida’s electricity system is still dominated by fossil fuels.

(4) According to Evolved Energy Research, it is economically and technically feasible to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050. Transitioning to renewable energy would create 222,082 construction jobs and 90,727 operation jobs, reduce energy costs and save lives. State government should not be standing in the way of a new energy future for Florida!

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Allow me to end by thanking a few of my friends from all over Florida that are joining me in signing this petition and fighting for our planet and generation’s future. Thanks to Levi, Valholly, and Issac, who were part of the historic group of eight brave young Floridians that sued the State of Florida, Florida’s Governor, and Cabinet in the case Reynolds v. State of Florida to demand that our state enforce the laws that cut back and eliminate our state’s carbon emissions. Thanks as well to the exceptional people at Our Children’s Trust, the youth-focused environmental law firm that helped us with our case and that are leading the federal constitutional climate case, Juliana v. United States. Demanding change within a culture where politics so often protects the polluters is hard and to my young friends and the folks at OCT, thank you again and again.

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And to the youth of Florida, NOW is the time for you to get involved. Please sign the petition TODAY and share it with every single person you know on social media. Our future is in our hands and whether you are old enough to vote or not you can make a difference right NOW.

Adults have long failed us by putting politics and profits ahead of our planet. Our climate and too many of the natural places we cherish are at dire risk. I know you know this, and I know you agree, so it’s up to you and I to solve our climate crisis. I most sincerely hope that you will join my friends and I in demanding that our government take action today.

Start Spreading The News: New Yorkers Vote For The Right to A Clean Environment

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I strongly believe that every single citizen of our great nation, most certainly including those here in the fragile yet ever so beautiful State of Florida, have an innate constitutional right to clean air and water. It just seems logical and obvious to me that that should be everyone’s natural right. In fact, those beliefs were central to my landmark litigation Reynolds v. Florida.

For these reasons, I am thrilled to see that nearly 61% of all voters in the State of New York added the right of its citizens to enjoy a clean environment to their state constitution during Tuesday’s elections. America’s politics might be polarizing these days but learning that votes in favor of the New York constitutional amendment far exceeded those against it in 51 of New York’s 62 counties is simply wonderful news.

“New Yorkers have spoken very clearly on making clean air and clean water a legal right. In these otherwise polarizing times, a healthy environment, breathing clear air and drinking clean water are values that bring people together.”
Peter Iwanowicz
Executive Director
Environmental Advocates NY
Passing this amendment has made New York just the third state in the U.S. to formally recognize protecting citizens environmental rights as an inalienable right within its constitution, and the hope is that others will soon follow. Pennsylvania, for example, has had all sorts of historic struggles with pollution from mining, oil and gas extraction operations, and has had such a law on its books since the early 1970’s. Sadly, the Pennsylvania law faced decades of litigation challenging it before that state’s Supreme Court finally brought the matter to an end in 2013 by ruling in the environment’s (and voters’) favor. Let us hope that the polluters don’t spend nearly as much time tying up the promise that the new New York Amendment holds in the courts and that voters all over America will seek to pass similar legislation (much less vote for public officials that support such common sense concepts).
Supporters of the New York amendment believe that enshrining a constitutional right to clean air and water will require the government to consider environmental effects early on in policy making and give greater weight to people who sue when government fails to do so. Given the importance of our environment here in Florida, wouldn’t it be “nice” if our Governor and other elected state leaders were to suggest and support a ballot initiative like the one that just passed in New York?
Now that would be a ray of Florida Sunshine for sure.


Youth Will (Must) Save The Day: United Nations COP26 Youth Marathon

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Most every year since 1995, the world’s nations have been meeting to discuss our global climate crisis at the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP). This year’s session is taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, as the United Kingdom hosts the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) until November 12th. And, as part of this year’s event, I was honored to moderate the North America portion of the United Nations Climate & Oceans COP26 24 Hour Youth Marathon this past Saturday.
The Youth Marathon was a day-long event that included three groups of different sessions across three time zones. It was also an incredible opportunity to watch the world’s youth shine as we focused on what I believe is the most important issue today’s young people will face in their lives here on earth.
Satellite events like the one I moderated are intertwined with the more public events that you see covered in the mass media where many world leaders (this year including the United State’s President Joe Biden) give speeches and perform other ceremonial type tasks. At its core, the key focus of the COP meetings is to monitor and shape the status of climate oriented policies being taken around the world to reduce carbon pollution, as well as to review the emission inventories submitted by Parties (the various nations). This information is then used to assess and measure the progress the Parties are making in support of the Convention’s goals. COP21, for example, took place in Paris and it’s not uncommon to hear mention of the “Paris Agreement” which relates to the goals the various nations set at that conference in 2015. Chances are good that you will hear about various Glasgow Agreements in the weeks and years to come that sprout from this month’s meetings (I sure hope that’s the case).
An important element of this year’s event, COP26, is strengthening society’s ability to adapt to climate change impacts globally, as well as mobilizing financing and implementing solutions that have been outlined in previous COP conferences. As our climate change crisis worsens by the day due to man’s use of fossil fuels, it is ever important that every country in the world comes together to help each other in such dire times of need. As I’ve said before, climate change will ultimately impact every aspect of society, every country on our planet, and as such it is imperative that we all come together as a global community and unify in prioritizing and solving what I believe to be the greatest challenge today’s youth will ever face. And that’s what these COP meetings strive to accomplish.
Our  North American session hosted two venerated speakers, the esteemed Dr. Katharine Hayhoe and Emily De Sousa, who spoke to a global audience.
Dr. Hayhoe taught our attendees about the importance of statistics in climate science and her research as Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy and political science professor at Texas Tech University. Her research focuses on establishing a scientific basis for assessing the regional to local-scale impacts of climate change on human systems and the natural environment.
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Emily De Sousa taught our patrons how to effectively communicate with, write to, political leaders. Emily just finished her masters degree and has extensive experience working with politicians to implement sustainable solutions.
IMG_3952Allow me to thank Dr. Hayhoe and Ms. De Sousa for their incredible work and passion. And speaking of passion, allow me to also thank the United Nations Association; acclaimed Gonzalo Alvarez, United Nations Marine Biologist and Oceanographer; and Hannah Glowacki and Karl Birkholtz, UNA Youth Council Members, for helping to organize and support this important event.
But mostly, allow me to thank the world’s youth for participating in the event and being so dedicated to helping make our planet better and cleaning up our climate mess. As your Moderator it was simply amazing to watch the world’s youth illustrate such leadership and fortitude on such an important, ominous topic.
When it comes to our global climate crisis, you, my friends, the world’s youth, will save mankind from its polluting past. This week’s Youth Marathon made that clear yet again, and I am deeply proud of each attendee’s commitment and relentless passion.
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