Young environmentalists in the Valley are looking to start a regional dialogue among all those interested in a clean energy future.
Students from the University of Texas-Pan American Environmental Awareness Club and South Texas College have organized Focus the Rio Grande Valley, which is a region wide town hall event they hope will help each community identify where it sits on the trajectory toward clean energy.
The town hall event in Edinburg will take place at the UTPA Student Union Auditorium on May 2 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. All ages are encouraged to attend.
At the local level, the Town Hall discussions will cover a range of topics representing sectors like agriculture, energy, building, transportation and urban planning.
“We want to let them know that the constituents have a voice,” said Desireé Ortiz, organizer of the town hall event and member of UTPA’s EA club. “This is an awakening of the Mexican American community.”
On the national level, discussions will center on the new draft climate and energy bill released by Reps. Henry Waxman, D-CA, and Edward Markey, D-MA, that is the first to set science-based targets to cut global warming pollution.
Fifty members of Congress have confirmed their participation in the Nationwide Town Hall on America’s Clean Energy Future, along with dozens of city and state elected leaders. The events are being held during the Congressional spring recess to allow maximum participation.
Young leaders organized by Focus the Nation are holding an unprecedented 103 Town Halls across the country to engage Congressional representatives, mayors and other elected officials in accelerating America’s transition to a clean energy future.
“It’s usually our leaders who call town halls on pressing issues,” said Lindsey Berger, an organizer at Missouri State University. “This time we’re inviting them to our Town Halls because our generation knows we don’t have time to wait to build a clean energy future.”
The Town Halls are largely being organized by hundreds of youth who are driving today’s clean energy movement. The success of the events is a result of multi-sector and multi-generational partnerships that they are building in their communities.
On the international level, the town halls will set the stage for ensuring America’s leadership at the December 2009 climate treaty negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The town halls are also catalysts for further action. Organizers and participants will begin charting community action plans unique to each locality that will be implemented with Focus the Nation’s support over the coming year.
The events are part of a growing clean energy movement that includes Focus the Nation and partner groups such as 1Sky, Energy Action Coalition, Green For All and 350.org. Together, these motivated leaders are mobilizing youth, business leaders, elected officials and other sectors to create climate and energy solutions within a necessarily rapid time frame.
International climate experts say that the next few years is the window for averting irretrievable climate disruption.
“If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment,” Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the international panel of the world’s top climate scientists, famously warned in 2007.