In Montpelier, Extinction Rebellion Vermont and nearly two dozen partner organizations from around the Northeast are occupying the State House grounds through Saturday afternoon in an unpermitted action called “Climate Encampment: Youth, Migration and Agriculture.”
The action was conceived by Vermont high school students and coincides with Extinction Rebellion International’s October Rebellion.
The public is encouraged to join in the encampment, or just attend workshops and events on the grounds.
“The climate crisis is bringing extreme weather events that impact economic and food systems in the global south. This has already resulted in migration that is becoming a humanitarian crisis. We know that food and economic systems in the global north will also be affected by extreme weather. Farming in the U.S. has been heavily impacted by climate chaos this year,” Extinction Rebellion Vermont noted in a statement distributed earlier this week.
That is affecting life here, the group argues.
According to the statement: “Reports show that Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen 16% since 1990, making a mockery of the state’s lofty 2005 goals of emission reductions of 25% by 2012 and 50% by 2028. More than 43% of the state’s emissions are attributed to the transportation sector, where emissions have increased nearly 22% since 1990. ... This data clashes with the need to bring about vast, permanent changes to society to prevent ecological collapse and untold human suffering due to the climate emergency.”
In as many weeks, young people have stood up and criticized leaders, suggesting adults have not done enough to transition away from fossil fuels. Youth leaders from around the nation have been profiled and celebrated for their efforts. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, 16, has become the standard bearer for the global youth movement when it comes to the “climate emergency.”
Here in Vermont, members of Extinction Rebellion Vermont are placing a focus on farm workers as well.
To that end: “In this action, we will spend two days living on the State House grounds, bringing in livestock, local plants and food, inviting speakers to talk about regenerative agriculture, migration and community resilience, and using civil disobedience to demand a just transition and an end to fossil fuels.”
The encampment is expected to draw counter-protesters, including groups and individuals who have been vocal about the youth movement, in particular, and that it is using students as pawns in a broader cause. They argue students should be in school rather than learning to be activists.
Individuals and groups supporting the encampment argue its four key “demands” should be backed by people of all ages.
— The government must “tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency; it must reverse all policies not in alignment with that position and must work alongside the media to communicate the urgency for change including what individuals, communities and businesses need to do.”
— The government must “enact legally binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and take further action to remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases. It must cooperate internationally so that the global economy runs on no more than half a planet’s worth of resources per year.”
— “We do not trust our government to make the bold, swift and long-term changes necessary to achieve these changes, and we do not intend to hand further power to our politicians. Instead we demand a citizens’ assembly to oversee the changes, as we rise from the wreckage, creating a democracy fit for purpose.”
— We demand a “just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty; establishes reparations and remediation led by and for black people, indigenous people, people of color and poor communities for years of environmental injustice, establishes legal rights for ecosystems to thrive and regenerate in perpetuity, and repairs the effects of ongoing ecocide to prevent extinction of human and all species, in order to maintain a livable, just planet for all.”
We wish the participants well. The momentum created by last month’s climate strike, and week of climate action, is formidable. The discussion is necessary. And their action is relevant.
We are grateful for a nonviolent strategy and tactics as the most effective way to bring about change. Certainly, there is a lot at stake.