Friday’s ‘Youth Climate Strike’ will focus on Kotek’s lack of action

Scene from 2021 Portland Youth Climate Strike. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
Event flyer

The kids are back. And they’re (still) pissed.

The fourth annual Portland Youth Climate Strike will start at the Oregon Convention Center plaza Friday. Climate activists of all ages will meet at 10:00 am at the plaza in the northeast corner of the Convention Center (Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Holladay).

When we covered this event in 2021, there was a strong connection between the group’s demands and transportation projects. Many of the activists had “stop freeway expansions” as part of their messaging. Last year the focus was on “Climate Villains.” This year the focus is squarely on pressuring Oregon Governor Tina Kotek to prevent the expansion of a different type of fossil fuel infrastructure statewide: gas pipelines.

“Gov. Kotek has the most power in the state to prevent new fossil fuel infrastructure, and she can ensure that all new energy plans moving forward are environmentally friendly and protective of our future,” reads a statement from PYCS. “We demand that she officially condemn any and all plans that surround the expansion of new fossil fuel infrastructure statewide, specifically plans concerning the Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) XPress pipeline project.” That project is backed by the same company behind the infamous Keystone Pipeline and activists say it would pump an additional 150 million cubic feet per day of fracked gas from British Columbia, through the center of Oregon, and into California.

“This expansion [of the GTN XPress project] would create over 3.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year,” and “completely disregards Oregon laws to decrease carbon emissions by 80% by 2050,” the youth climate activists say.

More broadly, the activists want Governor Kotek to make “climate justice” a larger priority.

Kotek touted her progress in the first 100 days of her tenure in a statement released Wednesday. She made zero mention of climate change and said her top priorities are housing and homelessness, mental health and addiction, and early literacy.

Students from around the Portland area and people of all ages will walk out of schools and workplaces to join the event tomorrow. Speeches and presentations will begin at 10:00 am and a march to Pioneer Courthouse Square will begin at 11:00 am. At the Square, youth organizers, teachers, and other activists will share views on why they feel Governor Kotek should make the climate crisis a larger part of her work.

Learn more about the event at the PYCS website or follow them on Instagram.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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malmite on toast
malmite on toast
10 months ago

to prevent new fossil fuel infrastructure

Glad to see that many youth climate activists are now disavowing their previous support for Kotek (sarcasm). Apparently addressing ecocide and its sacrifice zones is always some other non-oregon entity’s fault (never OR political parties, OR corporations, or OR residents). Instead of systems change, localist environmentalism sells the illusion of piecemeal progress that never amounts to anything:

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Fred
Fred
10 months ago

I wish the youth well, but they need to back off their attacks on fossil fuels until they start doing something to reduce their own demand for it. They drive cars, invest in crypto, and use cellphones and computing infrastructure at far higher rates than older people, so they are therefore using fossil fuels at a higher rate as well. It’s really hypocritical.

I’d love to see young people concentrate on converting other young people to low-carbon lifestyles. Then they can lecture the rest of us (including Gov. Kotek, who is very old) on our profligate lifestyles. We older people will then be appropriately shamed into reducing our carbon output.

joan
10 months ago
Reply to  Fred

This is quite a take! Most youth can’t drive cars or invest in crypto. This group includes a lot of high school students. And Gen Z is driving at lower rates compared to their parents, Gen X, at the same age, and compared to millennials, too:

In 1997, 43 percent of 16-year-olds and 62 percent of 17-year-olds had driver’s licenses. In 2020, those numbers had fallen to 25 percent and 45 percent. “Anecdotally, we’re hearing that younger people aren’t driving or getting their licenses as quickly as in the past,” said Mark Friedlander, the director of communications at the Insurance Information Institute…. The trend is most pronounced for teens, but even older members of Gen Z are lagging behind their millennial counterparts. In 1997, almost 90 percent of 20- to 25-year-olds had licenses; in 2020, it was only 80 percent.

Gen X and Boomers drive a lot more, and have a lot more disposable income to spend on gadgets.

And, also, it’s not really up to us olds to decide what the youth should and do value. But it seems to me like the youth have excellent values around these issues.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  Fred

This isn’t really a lifestyle issue, more a systems level issue. Your profligate lifestyle is not nearly as important is getting the right state-level policies in place that will help drive down CO2 emissions throughout the state. Though my personal emissions are well, well, well below average, I don’t see any advantage to shaming people for their personal decisions.

The problem with Kotek (and Brown before her, and the state legislature) is that even though their rhetoric is good, they keep supporting politically popular projects that take us further in the wrong direction.

Another problem we have is that while we have generally awful leadership, the Republicans would likely be even worse. (Though a barely elected moderate Republican governor might actually be more swayable than Kotek is.)

PTB
PTB
10 months ago
Reply to  Fred

They exist in a system they didn’t create. They want it changed. I do too. Giving up my cellphone, computer or even my beater errand truck, none of that is gonna make any difference if government policies don’t change. I refuse to believe you believe your bogus attack on young people trying to make a difference here. Come on.

Kotek is in her mid-50s btw. VERY OLD!

Aaron Brown
Aaron Brown
10 months ago
Reply to  Fred

have you not been paying attention to the local youth whose advocacy against ODOT for over a year literally caught the attention of the new york times?

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/04/21/climate/portland-emissions-infrastructure-environment.html

qqq
qqq
10 months ago
Reply to  Fred

All young people are not a uniform block, any more than all old people, or any of a million other examples. Telling them to convert the rest of their group before they “lecture the rest of us” makes no more sense than people telling bike riders to “police their own” before expecting to be treated courteously.

Plus, I doubt it’s true people as young as the protesters “drive cars, invest in crypto…” etc. more than people older than them. If you want to view them as a group, “they” certainly don’t live in huge houses, drive on weekends to second homes, or do any of a number of other climate-impacting activities more than older people.

Further, this article is about some young people protesting gas pipelines, and asking the governor to make climate justice a priority. Neither of those is “lecturing the rest of us” or taking a positing that only old people need to change their habits.

And of course they’re focusing on Kotek because she’s the governor. Her age is irrelevant.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
10 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Young people: Our house is on fire!

Curmudgeon: You live in houses, you hypocrites!