As the 2020 New Mexico legislative session ended, our state government has failed to address the urgent calls from young people to confront the climate crisis and defend their futures. The Community Solar Act (House Bill 9) was opposed by the utilities, and lawmakers let it die. The gas tax proposal, Gas Taxes, New Funds and Distributions (House Bill 173) was opposed by the fossil fuel industry, and lawmakers let it die.
We have less than 10 years to limit a climate catastrophe, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Earlier this month, temperatures in Antarctica reached an unprecedented 65 degrees. Fires still rage in Australia, where more than a billion animals have been killed. Last year, ocean temperatures were the highest they’ve been since scientists started keeping track, spurring rising sea levels and die-offs of coral, fish and seabirds.
New Mexico leadership appears oblivious to the young generation’s pleas for action. Last summer, Youth United for Climate Crisis Action put forward a platform with five public policy demands, the first of which was a declaration by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of a climate emergency and investment in just transition planning. The governor has failed to act and has refused to meet directly with youth leaders. The oil and gas industry, meanwhile, has continuous, friendly access to the governor and legislators, and its demands and requests are met regularly.
Business is booming. New Mexico’s total carbon footprint is actually growing because of oil and gas extraction in the Permian Basin, which has more than doubled in the past year. A recently released report by Oil Change International finds that in the next 10 years, projected carbon emissions from currently undeveloped oil and gas could amount to 10 times the climate emissions reduction target estimated by Lujan Grisham’s administration for 2030.
Our young leaders deserve adults in power who have the courage to lead boldly by transitioning our state away from fossil fuels, and not trade our children and grandchildren’s future for today’s fast cash and profits.
This past October, 21 adult allies of YUCCA were arrested for refusing to leave Lujan Grisham’s office at the Roundhouse. We protested in solidarity with YUCCA’s principles and demands, particularly that the governor meet with the young activists and declare a climate emergency immediately. Many more adults played supportive roles in the action.
We are teachers, advocates, retirees, artists, writers, business people, parents, age 25-85. YUCCA’s youth leaders asked “the adults that love us and the government that claims to represent us to join the call and take immediate action to save our futures and all life on Earth.” How could we not join them?
We call on our political representatives, especially Lujan Grisham, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth and Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, to do everything they can to help us protect the planet and our children.
As our youth leaders have said, they must declare a climate emergency immediately, create a Just Transition Fund from oil and gas revenues to achieve carbon neutrality, pass a moratorium on fracking, pass community solar legislation and ensure New Mexico is powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
We call on everyone to join the movement. We are preparing for Earth Day actions starting April 22. Fifty years after the first Earth Day, millions around the world will mobilize for 72 hours as part of a global youth-led movement to demand climate action. In the words of YUCCA: “We are headed toward a cliff, racing at 200 miles an hour. We young people are strapped in the backseat.” Let’s listen to the youth and take action!
Co-written by our allies the YUCCA 21 arrested on Oct. 30. Thanks to Terri & Halley for your work on this!