How youth leadership is changing climate activism

Young people around the world continue to protest in large numbers over what many see as inaction from political leaders on climate change—today's Global Day of Action is no exception. As the COP26 conference continues in Glasgow, Jasmine Sanders, Executive Director of 'Our Climate,' a non-profit that works to empower young people to lead and teach others about 'science-based, equitable climate policy solutions,' joins.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    For many young people, watching world leaders make pledges to do something about climate change is not enough. Not only do they protest in large numbers including at today's Global Day of Action marches and rallies, they are organizing on state and local levels.

    As the COP-26 conference continues in Glasgow, I recently spoke with Jasmine Sanders, Executive Director of "Our Climate." It is a non-profit that works to mobilize and empower young people to lead and to teach others about "science-based, equitable climate policy solutions." Miss Sanders, are you optimistic or hopeful about what's happening at COP 26? I mean, considering that we have had these conversations so many times before.

  • Jasmine Sanders:

    I do think that the Barbados prime minister said it best when she said, our people are watching and they are taking note. It is time for us to make sure that we are making promises that are combined with true implementation pathways. I think that is where the potential is and also a challenging opportunity because in the past we have not really seen that.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    In some ways, some of the climate solutions are local. City mayors have a tremendous amount more sway to influence policy or state legislatures and governors. How do you think of that? How do you lobby for that? How does your organization work with that?

  • Jasmine Sanders:

    We really invest in our young people developing their leadership development skills, really getting them in touch with their elected officials, whether that's on the local level, the state level or the national level. So making sure that we attend city council meetings. You get in touch with their elected officials, whether that's the mayor or your state representative. Use those phones that we know most people have in their hands at all times. Tweet them, write them, schedule a meeting with them.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Have you been inspired by the notion that there is another generation that they are taking notes that they are the ones that are going to inherit kind of the mess that we're leaving here?

  • Jasmine Sanders:

    Very much so. Young people, specifically Gen Z millennials are some of the most knowledgeable people I know. They're very much, they have a solutions-oriented mindset. They want to hold people accountable. They want to acknowledge our history and they want to get to the solutions. And those solutions are, there's a multitude of them. I like to say that there's no one size fits all for climate change. It needs an entire toolkit. So it's very important for us to stay open-minded, do the research and also use our creative ways to advocate.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    You know, in a way, this is a little different for you as a Louisianan. I mean, I covered Katrina after it happened, but the Southeast and Louisiana deals with the effects of climate change at a disproportionate rate than someone, say, in the middle of the country.

  • Jasmine Sanders:

    I grew up in Louisiana and definitely saw the impacts of Katrina. I was in high school when it occurred, and although my house was not directly impacted, I know family and friends who were affected. Strangers, fellow Louisianans who have never returned back to Louisiana because of the devastation. Climate change is not a siloed issue. It's all-encompassing, and it only exacerbates every existing stressor and societal inequity that we have. And right now, the Gulf Coast is just being pounded upon. And I think people are, it's not that people haven't paid attention, but right now there's this urgency that we have to make changes. We have to make better evacuation routes. We have to acknowledge that some communities, such as frontline communities, have been impacted for years due to things called redlining and blue lining. When we start to do this, this is when we actually can move towards actually living in a thriving world.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Jasmine Sanders, Executive Director of Our Climate, thanks so much for joining us.

  • Jasmine Sanders:

    Thank you so much.

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