I am so pleased and amazed at how young people are catching on, and taking action. It is remarkable. And it is essential. The future of life on this planet, literally, depends on your actions in the next few years.

Twenty years ago I assumed our governments would begin to take needed actions as the reality of human-made climate change became clear. I was wrong. Politicians now speak green. But it is mostly greenwash, fake environmentalism.

It is now clear: the only way to avoid driving the climate system past tipping points is to leave most of remaining fossil fuels in the ground.  That means we must rapidly phase out coal, and leave tar sand and oil shale in the ground. Then it is possible to get back to 350 ppm CO2.

Instead our governments are setting “goals” for emission reductions at a future date. This is a fraud.  If we do not rapidly phase out coal, we must persuade Russia to leave its gas in the ground and Saudi Arabia to leave its oil in the ground. That is implausible.

In the United States, a government that young people helped elect has signed an agreement for a pipeline to carry oil baked from tar sands to the U.S., new coal-fired power plants are being built, there are plans for coal-to-oil plants, and Appalachian Mountains are destroyed for a smidgeon of coal.

In European countries, coal plants continue to be built and operated. European ministers tell me that they will “tighten the carbon cap” to solve the problem. Horse manure. It is physically impossible to solve the problem if coal emissions continue.

As long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, the problem will not be solved. It will be necessary to place a rising price on carbon at the fossil fuel source. The fee should be returned 100 percent to the public uniformly, so they have the means to move to no-carbon and low-carbon energy. In this way, the people reducing their carbon footprint most will be rewarded.

It has become very clear. Our political leaders are not dashing forward to protect young people and future generations, and the other species on our remarkable planet.

Young people, you must protect your own interests, as well as those of your children and grandchildren. 350.org is the most effective organization in the world for climate justice.

But the job is just beginning, and it will be difficult. Special interests have enormous sway over our governments.

I cannot foresee exactly how resistance to injustice must proceed – but it must. Today is only one step in a long journey.

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