On June 11, a group of young people ages 18-23, stood before the Indiana Environmental Rules Board, and declared that Indiana needs a Climate Action Plan.
This effort by Youth Power Indiana, a program of the statewide non-profit Earth Charter Indiana, is using a formal legal process by which ordinary citizens can petition the Board to adopt a rule. Among other hurdles, the legal process requires 200 signatures. Youth Power Indiana’s petition included 380, and since June 11 over 775 more people have signed the petition.
Signatories include teachers, doctors, climate scientists, clergy and everyday Hoosiers.
Thirty-four states have Climate Action Plans, including Indiana neighbors Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky; Indiana does not.
Earth Charter Indiana and Youth Power Indiana members and supporters believe the time has come for Indiana to reckon with the reality of climate change and begin adaptation and mitigation efforts. To do so we must inventory where our greenhouse gas emissions come from, then design a process to gradually reduce those greenhouse gas emissions, so as to ensure a safer future for our children and our children’s children.
Over 97 percent of climatologists agree that human impact, in the form of greenhouse gas pollution from various sources — coal, fracking, transportation, animal agriculture, industry, etc. — is warming the atmosphere and creating chaotic weather events. The impact on Indiana will range from more severe droughts to more vicious rainstorms and flooding. Our agricultural sector will suffer because of extreme weather as well as the increase of invasive species and pests.
Our Petition for Rulemaking states: Given global climate change threatens all Hoosiers, I believe our government must take the necessary actions to ensure that our youth and future generations of Hoosiers will inherit a healthy environment. I support the adoption of a rule in Indiana that establishes a state-wide Climate Action Plan that will:
- Aggressively reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, which accelerate the climate change crisis.
- Pursue long-term solutions, such as energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy resources, to prevent further degradation of our atmosphere while creating quality local jobs and a thriving economy.
- Help Hoosiers adapt to current impacts of climate change, as well as prepare for future impacts that may be inevitable.
Indiana’s Environment Rules Board is comprised of private citizens appointed by the governor, along with the heads of state agencies. We believe the ERB is uniquely suited to adopt a rule to begin the process of creating a Climate Action Plan for Indiana.
At the ERB meeting in June, the youth gave testimony to the assembled, calling on the ERB members to lead this process. The youth were eloquent and respectful; the members of the ERB were attentive. If the hearing was any indication, good things are in store for Indiana.
I like to think of a Climate Action Plan as the table we can all gather around, share our concerns and perspectives, then come together, with the help of sound science and an embrace of Hoosier traditions, to get to work on facing the future.
As one of our signatories, Jim Brainard, Republican mayor of Carmel, put it in his testimonial: “We … need to act with foresight and commitment. By enacting a state-wide Climate Action Plan, we will be taking the necessary steps to protect our environment from the potentially devastating effects of global warming. Setting aside the debate of the science behind global warming, we must take action regardless of the cause.”
Jim Poyser is Executive Director of Earth Charter Indiana and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.