Nebraska Students Demand Action by Elected Officials on Growing Climate Crisis

From unprecedented flooding to extreme droughts and wildfires, the growing effects of climate change are becoming impossible to ignore.

At least some would think so, but for many in the younger generation, it feels like our elected leaders aren’t interested in seriously addressing the problems behind climate change.

“The scariest thing for me is just the idea that whatever I plan for my future, whatever degree I work for, any life plans I might make could be utterly disrupted by natural disasters entirely outside of my control, simply because of lack of action from the generations before me,” said Chloe Johnson, a senior at Central High School.

Over the years Chloe and other students from Students for Sustainability have been campaigning to change the way the community of Omaha looks at climate change.

On Friday they held one of two Climate Strikes scheduled in the next week, gathering to share the success they have had and the work they still have left to do.

Those successes are starting to add up, Omaha has adopted a new Climate Action Plan and OPPD is working to meet a net-zero carbon goal by 2050.

But The students say there is still plenty of work to do locally to combat climate change.

“Our new push this year is for a state climate action plan which we currently do not have and for OPPD to release a timeline stating exactly how they will ensure the decommission of the North Omaha coal plant that is causing racial health inequity,” said Johnson.

That is a goal shared by OPPD Director Eric Williams.

“Often, climate action is viewed as something we need to submit to or a way we have to sacrifice and that is fundamentally a misunderstanding. Clean energy and moving towards a sustainable climate in the future is the biggest economic opportunity that any of us have seen in our lifetime,” said Williams.

Johnson urges her peers to continue to lobby officials like Williams and hold them accountable for meeting sustainability goals like shutting down the North Omaha coal plant.

The legislature is also not too far away and Johnson says that even a little bit of time spent in Lincoln can go a long way in convincing officials to take climate change seriously.

“We know that at this age we are coming into our position with a lot of power because they really do care about us not leaving the state. So if we can show our care about any issue they are gonna take it more seriously than if an older person came for the same issue because they want us to stay in Nebraska,” said Chloe Johnson, an organizer with Students for Sustainability.

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