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.