We Have The Power to Demand Climate Justice For Cambridge – Let’s Use It on February 26th

Miriam Stodolsky, Contributing Writer

As students and young people, we’ve all heard adults cheerfully tell us, “your voice matters!”, “stand up for what you believe in!”, “the children are the future!”, and so on. But adults in power rarely take their own advice to heart and listen to what young people advocate for. Such hypocrisy is perhaps most frustrating when it comes to the climate crisis: though our generation will have to deal with a dying planet, our calls for climate action still go ignored. 

But what if I told you that right here in Cambridge, on February 26th, students will actually be in a uniquely powerful position to demand climate justice? 

This is a groundbreaking policy which would drastically reduce Cambridge’s environmental impact.

Let me explain. The Green New Deal for Cambridge (GND) is a local policy currently under consideration by the City Council. The GND would require large commercial buildings, which make up over half of Cambridge’s emissions, to reduce their climate footprint to net zero by 2035. If developers don’t meet that deadline, they must pay a fee to the city for every ton of greenhouse gas they produce––money which would then be used to fund sustainable infrastructure and jobs programs in Cambridge, with specific benefit to low-income, minority, and youth residents. This is a groundbreaking policy which would drastically reduce Cambridge’s environmental impact, redistribute wealth from gentrifying developers to the most vulnerable community members, and create a blueprint for other cities to achieve the same. 

The GND has been stuck in committee for months while developers and their allies attempt to water down or block it. As the leader of Sunrise Cambridge, a youth climate justice organization, I have witnessed some pretty unbelievable BS from these people. This includes scheduling committee sessions in the middle of a weekday when students and workers can’t attend, making legal threats, monopolizing committee hearings to spread disinformation about the GND, and accusing students of blindly supporting a policy supposedly too complicated for us to understand. 

But on March 1st, the City Council will finally vote on the GND. Though the fight won’t end with this vote, it is an absolutely crucial moment to make sure the GND gets passed in the strongest possible form. That’s why Sunrise Cambridge is holding a youth-led rally for the GND on February 26th, followed by a general rally with our partners the day of the vote. 

When we unite, we do have the power to create a better future.

As students, our voices have the potential to defeat developers’ manipulations. We need to show the city councilors that their constituents––the young people who learn, work, and live in Cambridge––demand that they choose climate justice over the whims of developers. That we are smart, organized, and ready to fight for what we believe in.

When we unite, we do have the power to create a better future. If you believe in social, economic, and climate justice, in building a sustainable economy for all in our own city, in a world where young people fight—and win, then raise your voice and join us on February 26th.

This article also appears in our January 2023 print edition.