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Youth activists demand national and local leaders do more to address climate change

Woman talking to crowd.
Brian Bull
Adrienne Rizzo of the group, Sunrise Eugene, spoke to fellow environmental activists today at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza.

A large crowd of mostly high school students marched and gathered in downtown Eugene Friday to protest fossil fuels and their role in global warming.

Woman smiling.
Brian Bull
Eloise Parish Mueller, member of Sunrise Eugene, one of the groups who organized today's walk-out and fossil fuel protest.

“No more coal, no more oil, keep your carbon in the soil!” the demonstrators chanted. Many carried signs calling on officials to stop development of pipelines and other technology that use fossil fuels.

The students had walked out of school earlier during their lunch period, then made their way to the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza after stopping briefly at the Eugene Chamber of Commerce and Funk/Levis marketing firm. Both organizations supported NW Natural’s efforts to successfully petition against the City of Eugene’s ban on natural gas in new construction.

At the rallying site, speakers demanded that President Joe Biden and Governor Tina Kotek declare climate emergencies on the national and state level, while calling on the Eugene City Council to continue policies that aim to cut fossil fuel usage by at least 50% by 2030.

Eloise Parish Mueller is with Sunrise Eugene, one of the groups behind the event. She told KLCC that despite the city reversing its ban on natural gas after local opposition -and a recent California appeals court ruling - youth are still pressing for it.

“I know that the gas ban has gotten some bad press and people feeling it’s a negative thing or something being taken away, but actually this is a really positive opportunity to have more affordable, healthier, and better for the climate energy in our buildings,” she said.

Youth March and Walkout Against Fossil Fuels

Other involved groups with today’s walkout include the 4J Climate Justice Team, Fossil Free Eugene, and the Sierra Club.

There were similar events planned in Florence, Bend, Salem, and Portland on Friday.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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