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Empower Hawaii’s youth to take action on climate change

Empower Hawaii’s youth to take action on climate change
Honolulu Star Advertiser - Island Voices - 11/30/2023
By Sophie Pager & Audrey Lin

We represent a group of high school students who are worried about our future because not enough is being done to reduce climate disasters that are occurring globally, nationally, and locally.


With our current greenhouse gas emissions nationally, we are plunging toward a worldwide climate disaster characterized by deadly heat waves, floods, wildfires and droughts. If things keep going the way they are now, the global environment will become less livable, and those contributing the least to the problems will likely face the brunt force of them.


From our perspective, our future and the futures of generations to come are being undermined, as climate-fueled disasters become more frequent and more extreme. 

However, we are not without hope, and we are fighting for a more just, livable and sustainable future. We seek to collaborate with other youth who have the same outlook and want to take action.

Despite the causes of climate change being known for decades, far too little has been done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Climate scientists who have urged strong action to mitigate climate change have been ignored.


We understand that fossil fuels are integrated throughout the economy and into our lifestyles. Individually, we can try to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, but we acknowledge that not everyone has the ability to easily reduce their carbon footprint, and we realize that the climate crisis is a systemic problem. Many of our economic and societal systems severely limit our choices; things must be changed so that we become far less dependent on fossil fuels.


Last year we, among others, organized the first Climate Future Forum, an event to empower youth in Hawaii to engage more effectively with our state Legislature and make our voices more heard in discussions of climate policy.


We had more than 80 youths, 25 nonprofits and more than six legislators participating. By holding workshops on distinct climate change policy angles, teaching youth how to track bills and submit testimonies, and teaching them how to make meaningful connections with their legislators, we gave them the tools to further involve themselves in future legislative discussions. By the end of the forum, the youths had come up with a legislative agenda that they could follow throughout the following 2023 legislative session.


Building upon the successes of this first event, we are planning another Climate Future Forum. There will be sessions on environmental bills and policies that will be considered by the Legislature in the 2024 session, with five main policy areas for youth to learn about: regenerative food systems, clean energy and transportation, climate justice and human rights, sustainable infrastructure, and climate and the economy. Participants will discuss the bills and policy goals and select ones they wish to support during the upcoming legislative session.


We urge all of our fellow youth to register for this year’s Climate Future Forum, to be held at the state Capitol on Dec. 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (see Together, we can work to create a livable future that supports our hopes and dreams.


Sophie Pager is high school senior and member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby; Audrey Lin is a junior and a leader of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Hawaii Youth Action Team.

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