Youth Climate Lobby Week is a statewide youth-led movement in which the youth of Malden were invited to participate in climate action or to learn more about the democratic political process.
The Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition (MYCC) worked hard for the past ten months writing Climate Justice bills in order to remind committees to vote favorably on the bills that were highlighted by the MYCC on Joint Rule 10 day which was held on February 2nd. This event consisted of a series of Zoom calls starting on Monday, January 24th, and ending on January 26th.
MYCC is a youth-led network of organizations that fight for intersectional climate justice. MYCC is still a new organization and they welcome any youth-led groups in Massachusetts to make the state a leader in climate change.
Youth Climate groups worked with senators and Congresspeople to write these bills, researching the bills and coming up with actions that will be good and effective. After that, the bills go to committee but they never get voted on. The priority bills are: Interdisciplinary Climate Education, Green Future Now Corporate Polluter Fee, 100% Clean Act, Air Quality EJ and the Building Justice with Jobs Act.
There were over 140 participants that represented about 20 or more organizations from around the state during lobby week. They all contacted their legislators and their state senators and set up virtual lobby meetings where they talked about the five priority climate bills. In total, there were 42 different meetings with legislators on all the bills.
Some of the things they did in the meeting included urging the legislators to sponsor the bills and if they had not sponsored them, they were asked to co-sponsor the bill, which means they would put their name on it and say they agreed with it.
After lobby week, Massachusetts State Representative Steven Ultrino and Senator Jason Lewis pledged to co-sponsor all five of the priority bills. Rep. Ultrino sent a letter of support to the Transportation Utilities and Energy committee (TUE). All together the MYCC earned 11 more co-sponsorships as well as letters of support. They also got invited to meet with Representative Jeffrey Roy, who is the Committee Chair of the TUE committee to help write the legislation.
On February 8th, the youth regrouped, reflected on how the lobby week went and planned the next steps.
Book author Kari Percival joined the MYCC as an adult ally. She believes that “youth voices have the clout right now,” so she believes that this is a powerful movement. Percival said, “it's exciting for me to be an adult ally with this organization and see these things happen.”
Percival said that they do not know the future, but they know the next steps. On February 12th, they held a Youth Climate Summit. Percival expressed how fulfilling it is for the youth to be both learning and working on this. “One of the aims is to get a really clear and truthful picture of how the legislature is working and figure out how to make it better for the future because right now it seems to be a little bit dysfunctional,” she said.
The plan for the summit was to figure out the next steps by going over the information that they gathered from the lobbying meetings and the reports. Their goal is to see what the most effective strategy is to combat climate change laws.
Another event they organized was the Broken Hearts protest. This was held at the State House on Valentine’s Day. The purpose was to protest to let people know that their hearts are breaking because important climate bills are not moving forward from the committee. Percival said that “we are urging the state legislature to do the things that need to happen.”
Anyone was invited, and everyone at the event wore red to show their support for the climate and for the Youth Climate Movement. The purpose was also to show support to other social justice issues and organizations, like the Indigenous Legislative Agenda, which also died in committee. Other organizations were supporting such causes as immigrant civil rights, ending solitary confinement and anti-eviction bills.
Despite the cold weather, over 50 people attended the protest in person, and even more attended on Zoom. There were speakers from community organizations who gave short speeches and they urged the attendees to not give up. They told them to join organizations, write to their legislators and urge action.
Percival believes that the youth are doing a fantastic job. She said that “they have such really great technical skills with the technical media and they are extremely creative and adaptive.”