Hundreds of students from across Vermont gathered on the State House lawn on Wednesday for the fourth annual Rally For The Planet, organized by the Vermont Youth Lobby. This year’s event offered a rousing call to action, as Vermonters of all ages came together to demand meaningful action on climate change from state leaders.
The importance of fulfilling Governor Scott’s 2017 commitment to upholding the Paris Climate Accord was a rallying cry for participants, who repeatedly called on those in power to keep their promises. Many attendees voiced concerns that legislators are moving too slowly to enact the types of policies necessary to ensure a livable future for youth in Vermont and beyond.
The students who convened at the State House on Wednesday to march with handmade signs, give impassioned speeches, and hand-deliver letters to key members of the legislature had an unequivocal message for state leaders: that Vermont’s youth demand and deserve a seat at the table. As Youth Lobby leader and Harwood Union High School student Orielle Koliba said, “We are the ones who will be disproportionately affected by the decisions our political leaders choose not to make today. We are here to say: nothing about us, without us.”
Wednesday’s event comes hot on the heels of a string of powerful actions organized by local youth, including the recent “Climate Strike” inspired by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg. Several of the day’s speakers invoked Thunberg in their remarks, lauding her blunt approach to demanding climate action from powerful leaders as inspiration for youth worldwide.
Given the clear disconnect between the urgent need for political action on climate change and the current pace of legislative change, events like Wednesday’s rally offer a beacon of hope.
In the final speech of the day, VPIRG Climate Program Specialist Camila Thorndike offered inspiration and encouragement to the assembled youth, reminding them, “Even though a big bill isn’t on the verge of passing this year, I want to be very clear: what you are doing is working… Your action is making a difference.”
May we all take inspiration from the bold message of Vermont’s youth and join them in demanding more from our elected officials.