STORY BY ANNA JENSEN
With the upcoming presidential election in 2016, candidates are busy pitching their ideas about health care, education, the economy and equal rights.
Regarding the environment, environmental conservationists want to see clean energy and wind power put to better use, a reduction in the use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions, and solar energy implemented throughout the United States. For that to be done, there need to be policy changes.
Recently in Iowa, a nonpartisan organization, NextGen Climate, has traveled from small to large campuses throughout the state promoting clean energy through their “50by30” plan.
“We call on candidates and ask them if they support 50 percent clean energy by the year 2030,” said Zack Davis, the state director for NextGen Climate in Iowa. The organization is focused on making climate change an important issue in the face of American politics.
According to their website, if the 50by30 proposal is accepted nationwide, NextGen Climate believes that clean energy will create an additional one million jobs, and double that by 2050.
“What we do now and the decisions we make will affect, not us, but our children and our grandchildren,” said Kaitlin Lacek, co-president of the Drake Environmental Action League.
“Being passionate about the environment is something much bigger than it seems. Every action we do, environmentally, affects everyone on this planet. Choices we make affect people around the globe, whether that is certain products we use, or anything else.”
74 percent of people under the age 35 have been reported as more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who advocates for 50 percent clean energy by 2030. The NextGen organization is active on 20 college campuses throughout Iowa, and wants students to become passionate about the changing environment, hopefully raising voter turnout.
NextGen wants politicians not only to address the problems of climate change, but to have a concrete plan established on how to fix it nationwide. With the debate at Drake on Nov. 14, it was possible that climate change could have been a topic of discussion.
But it was skirted around once again. With the attacks on Paris, clearly terrorism took over a majority of the debate, but the candidates, specifically Bernie Sanders, only briefly mentioned climate change.
“Students and the nation want to hear what candidates are doing, or what they are going to do,” Davis said. “America was built to do big things, and clean energy equals a strong economy.”
According to Davis, Iowa is highly invested in wind production and generates 27 percent of its energy through wind. It is on the path to 100 percent wind power, and NextGen wants that to be the goal for the United States as well.
To make this happen, every level of government involvement is important in the process of climate change or change in any realm.
“The state government plays a large role too and can get a lot done on a much smaller scale, sometimes creating an even greater change,” Lacek said. “I think that if the President were to make some sort of policy pertaining to environmental conservation/sustainability, then the country would be heading in the right direction.
NextGen’s goal is to spark the conversation of climate change in politics, and convince hopefuls that a clean environment will ensure more jobs and a better, healthier economy.
“Climate change is the biggest challenge of this generation,” Davis said. “But we have the resources to commit to a clean environment and leave behind our dependence on fossil fuels. We shouldn’t have to question that movement.”