Utah High School Students Fought For 2 Years To Get Lawmakers To Take Action On Climate Change

Hundreds of students worked to pass groundbreaking legislation in the state.

Utah passed a resolution this week acknowledging the role fossil fuel consumption plays in climate change, thanks in large part to the efforts of hundreds of determined high school students. The legislation, which was signed in a special ceremony Wednesday by Gov. Gary Herbert, recognizes the consequences of climate change and encourages investing in innovations to reduce carbon emissions. Seven of the students who drafted and worked to get the bill passed attended the ceremony that marked the end, for some, of two years of effort. 

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According to the Standard-Examiner, students at Logan High School in Logan, Utah first started working on the legislation, entitled the "Concurrent Resolution on Environmental and Economic Stewardship" in 2016 when they learned that six years ago, their state's legislature had passed a resolution six years earlier that suspended policies reducing greenhouse gas emissions until more science on climate change became available. As the generation that would likely have to deal with most of the direct effects of such action, Logan students decided they wanted to pass their own resolution. 

"My generation and generations to come will inherit the many threats that climate change poses," Piper Christian, one of the students who worked on the legislation, said, per environment-focused media organization High Country News

While warned that their efforts would likely be a "lost cause," according to the Standard-Examiner, the students sought to try anyway. They teamed up with state representative Rebecca Edwards, who helped the teens write the bill, and HEAL Utah, who both became huge advocates for the group in Salt Lake City. When the legislation didn't make it out of committee in 2017, the students marked the beginning of the 2018 congressional session by hosting a panel for lawmakers about climate change. Joining with students from other area high schools, the group continued to show up to speak at committee meetings and push the issue until the resolution passed the Utah legislature in March. 

"The main message of the resolution is that economic viability and environmental stewardship aren't different things," Mishka Banuri, a student at West High School told the Standard-Examiner. "Obviously not everyone in the Legislature believes climate change is human-caused or even real … but what we did is start a conversation around it, which is how change is made."

Their efforts are the latest example of how high school students across the country are continuing to raise their voices to fight for what they believe in. While students in Utah were fighting for the future of the environment, students from Parkland, Fla. were organizing the March for Our Lives and students in Oregon were working to protect net neutrality.  

"It's gratifying to see that next generation come up and to see their influence," Edwards said, "and it leaves me with a tremendous sense of optimism for the future."

(H/T: The Hill)

Cover image via f11photo / Shutterstock.

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