Indiana students push for climate action through summer

INDIANA – Confront the Climate Crisis is a statewide campaign that seeks to engage the state of Indiana in climate action. The campaign was launched when high school students in West Lafayette became aware of Indiana lawmakers’ refusal to acknowledge the urgency of combating climate change.

Ethan Bledsoe, a rising senior, recounts, “We can’t go any further, we can’t do any progressive things about the climate if you can’t even acknowledge that climate change is an emergency or that it’s an issue…we just heard one time–it was from Representative Carey Hamilton–she was just talking about how sometimes, some of her colleagues will just see the word “climate” change and just turn the bill over…and just vote “no” on it no matter what, and we thought that was an issue, so that’s basically the main reason why we started the campaign.”

Starting the summer of last year with brainstorming and reaching out to activists across the state, this small group of high school students began to engage Indiana in youth-led action. Now, one year later, their campaign is composed of over 120 Hoosier students. As shown by their activity this summer alone, it is evident that they do not plan on slowing down anytime soon. 

The high school students started off the summer by traveling to the Indianapolis statehouse on June 1 to meet with Senator Ron Alting and Governor Eric Holcomb. They received the senator’s commitment to introduce legislation written by the campaign’s legislative team into the Indiana State Senate in the 2022 session. For the remainder of the summer, the legislative team wrote drafts, met with organizations and corporations to receive feedback, and began building momentum for their legislation. 

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On June 26, 2021, from 12 to 4 pm EDT, Confront the Climate Crisis held a community event, “Craft for Climate,” on the lawn of the Indiana Statehouse. The event promoted climate action from our elected officials through music, art, poetry, and speeches and solidified that climate concerns extend to many facets of our lives, including the arts. Chenyao Liu, a student at Carmel High School remarked, “While a large part of environmental activism includes scientific terminology and political jargon, art still stands as one of the most accessible and important ways of communicating information and emotion. Artists can create paintings, sculptures, and songs that inspire people in a way spouting statistics cannot.” Local youth climate groups hosted a diverse array of climate-related art projects, participants made banners and signs, tried their hand at origami, and wove mats out of plastic bags. 

Over the Fourth of July weekend, Confront the Climate Crisis once again found themselves raising awareness about their campaign. They hosted a booth at CarmelFest, Carmel’s annual Independence Day festival – and successfully garnered enough signatures to hit the milestone of 16,000 on the group’s petition for statewide climate action. 

To wrap up a powerful summer, members from the statewide campaign traveled to Washington D.C. in late July for meetings with the Indiana congressional delegation and to connect with activists across the nation. In meetings, they discussed the upcoming state legislation and received feedback and support. 

There is no doubt that the Confront the Climate Crisis students are leaving their mark on Indiana. Looking into the fall, they ask you to attend their march and press conference in West Lafayette on September 24 in support of their state legislation. At the event, Senator Alting will officially announce his role in the initiative and the students will announce their plans going forward. For more information and to stay updated, follow the group on social media: 

Because of the support we’ve received at “CarmelFest”, “Craft for Climate”, and many other community events, our message, that climate change must be treated as the crisis it is, has reached across Indiana and beyond.

The Confront the Climate Crisis petition demands, “…that our politicians at the statehouse identify the climate crisis as a crisis and declare a climate emergency, that state legislation is passed to set a goal for statewide carbon neutrality, and that legislation [works] to eliminate environmental racism and the unequal effects of the climate crisis is primarily
minority communities in Indiana.”

This petition has been signed in over seven countries, proving how globally reaching our message is. The petition has recently hit a new milestone of over 16,000 signatures, and the number continues to grow. Help us make a difference by signing the petition.

Confront the Climate Crisis is a youth-led statewide campaign with the goal of pressuring Indiana legislators to pass sustainable legislation combating climate change. Get involved at www.confronttheclimatecrisis.com

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