15 April 2019

Youth and Carbon Pricing: A Unifying Solution to Climate Change

On March 15, 2019 youth across the globe went on strike for their futures. They were responding to warnings from scientists that global warming is a serious threat to the health of the planet.

In the United States, young people have been advocating for climate action before school strikes and the Green New Deal put them in the headlines. A solution they’ve been supporting is carbon pricing—a policy mechanism that puts a price on carbon pollution and in some cases returns revenue to households. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R 763) introduced in January of 2019 is the fruit of that effort, legislation that if passed experts estimate would reduce U.S. emissions 40 percent in 12 years while providing income to households.

Clara Fang, Higher Education Outreach Coordinator of Citizens' Climate Lobby, introduces the organizations working with young people to advance carbon pricing:  

  • Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a nonprofit grassroots organization whose mission is to “build political will for climate solutions by enabling breakthroughs in the exercise of individual and political power.” Their program for young people, Citizens’ Climate Higher Education, works to engage students, educators, and people in higher education to advocate for carbon pricing. Founded in 2007, CCL has over 500 chapters across the country and 110,000 members. This June, CCL will bring over 300 students to Washington DC to lobby members of Congress on The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

  • Our Climate is another organization that works with young people on carbon pricing. Founded in 2017, Our Climate “mobilizes and empowers young people to educate the public and elected officials about science-based, equitable climate policy solutions that build a livable world.” In partnership with Years of Living Dangerously, Our Climate heads the #PutAPriceOnIt campaign, which supports young people to organize on campus and in their communities on carbon pricing. Our Climate supports the The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act as well as state level carbon pricing campaigns. Our Climate and CCL work together on the Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative, which collects carbon pricing endorsements from college and university presidents.

  • The Climate Reality Project, founded by former Vice-President Al Gore, has also started mobilizing youth on carbon pricing. Climate Reality Campus Corps supports student organizing and leadership development on climate change. Activists work on “Take the Pricing Pollution Pledge” which supports carbon pricing, and the “100% Committed” campaign, which gets communities to pledge to transition to 100% renewable energy. Climate Reality also hosts trainings around the world where students and community organizers can learn how to give climate presentations and mobilize people to action.

  • Students for Carbon Dividends, launched in 2018, created a coalition of students pushing for carbon pricing. The coalition includes youth groups from Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, and others. Students for Carbon Dividends supports the Climate Leadership Council’s Baker-Schultz Plan, which puts a price on carbon emissions, gives dividends to all households, and cuts back on carbon regulations. 

Young people understand that their future is at stake with climate change. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), close to half a million youth around the world have taken action on climate change through SGP (small grants programmes) projects in their homes, schools and communities. Learn more about how young people play a key role in the intergovernmental climate change negotiations and in their communities, helping to transform our societies towards a low-carbon and climate resilient future.