16-year-old climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is petitioning the 2016 U.S. presidential candidates to take a strong stance on ending climate change. In a Care2 petition and a corresponding video letter, Martinez is urging the candidates to pledge to end fossil fuel use in the U.S. by 2026. The petition attracted over 100,000 signatures in its first week online.
Martinez is no stranger to activism; he gave his first public address on the climate crisis when he was just six years old, and is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a movement of young activists, artists and musicians from around the world working to combat climate change.
With the new petition, Martinez asserts that the next President of the United States must act with even greater urgency than the Paris Climate Agreement demands, and end the use of fossil fuels within the next decade.
“My generation can no longer stand by while climate change is treated like a partisan talking point. Our nation is out of time for debate. Nearly 200 nations agreed to action in Paris -- will your administration work with them, or turn your back on them?” the petition letter reads.
“To meet our Paris commitments we will need to transition to a zero carbon energy economy by 2050. My generation demands you act with greater urgency. Scientists say we can and must end the use of fossil fuels within the next decade (2026), and we need you to start that switch on your first day in office.”
The link provided in the petition statement is a bit weak as proof that scientists are asserting that we “must” end the use of fossil fuels within the decade – rather, the study found that we could transition in a decade given a collaborative, interdisciplinary, multi-scalar effort. At the same time, there is an overwhelming scientific consensus that Earth’s climate is warming, and that it is extremely likely that the trend is due to human activities. Many companies and governments are urging ratification of the Paris Agreement, have stressed that climate change is an issue that urgently requires action, and have set science-based targets. The G7 leaders have set a deadline of 2025 to end fossil fuel subsidies. Of course, Martinez suggests that the current commitments are not ambitious and timely enough.
In the corresponding video, Martinez stresses that despite that America’s 74 million people who are under 18 years old cannot vote in this election, they will be the beneficiaries or the victims of what the next President’s decisions. He invites the candidates to demonstrate that they will address the climate crisis, which he calls the greatest issue of our time.
Martinez was interviewed by Bill Maher on his HBO show, Real Time with Bill Maher, on June 24th about his advocacy work and the lawsuit. In the clip, he argues that young people are highly innovative and entrepreneurial, and can use that energy to calling on leaders to do the job they were elected to do.
“Young people are ready to use their art, their poetry, their passion, their music, to engage with the world and be leaders,” Martinez said. “Because, sure, we’re a future generation, but we’re here now and we’re not going to wait to make a difference. This is our world.”