Climate Organizer Naina Agrawal-Hardin Pens Op-ed for Seventeen

Climate organizer Naina Agrawal-Hardin penned an op-ed for Seventeen on the climate crisis and how a Biden-Harris Administration would address this threat while “creating union jobs to dig us out of the economic crisis we are in.” She writes, “as a climate organizer and a young person, I’m supporting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for President and Vice President. When it comes to saving our planet, there is no other option. Climate will be a top issue for a Biden administration.”

While Agrawal-Hardin cannot yet vote, she urges young people to get involved in this election, writing, “I’m just shy of 18. But what I can do is use my voice to encourage as many people as possible to vote for change on or before November 3. The power to defeat Trump lies in the hands of young people. We are the nation’s largest block of voters. We’ve already been heading to the polls in record numbers. We must show up in full force on Tuesday. Our votes are the difference between a continued climate freefall and true progress for our planet.”

Seventeen: I can’t vote yet. But Here’s How I’m Using My Voice to Create Change. 
[Naina Agrawal-Hardin, 10/31/20]

As a 17-year-old, I’ve never known a time when the climate crisis wasn’t ravaging the earth.  I’ve seen flooding collapse dams in my home state of Michigan, and unprecedented fires rip through my maternal grandparents’ community in Eastern Tennessee. Across the globe, in my paternal grandparents’ hometown in Northern India, flood waters are rising and decimating families’ livelihoods. In the places I call home, the climate crisis is exposing what’s already broken. People get poorer, sicker, and more hopeless. Injustices widen.

Older people like to call us the Most Anxious Generation. If Gen Z seems stressed, it’s rightfully so: “Climate anxiety” is a very real psychological response to watching our “leaders” in the White House deny the very existence of an impending catastrophe.

Just like Trump said COVID-19 would magically disappear, he is now telling us the planet will magically cool off. He has the luxury of writing climate change off as a “hoax,” as if it isn’t already claiming lives and forcing people to leave their homes. Abandoning the Paris Agreement is only the tip of the (melting) iceberg when it comes to his record on climate action. Trump’s administration will have gutted nearly 100 rules to protect our health and our environment.

But Joe Biden has a word for climate change, too: “jobs.” Biden knows we can move to a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions while creating union jobs to dig us out of the economic crisis we are in. He knows that polluted air and unsafe water disproportionately impact communities of color, so we must hold polluters accountable. Joe Biden has a plan to address environmental injustices.

As a climate organizer and a young person, I’m supporting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for President and Vice President. When it comes to saving our planet, there is no other option. Climate will be a top issue for a Biden administration.

On day one, Biden will get to work restoring the environmental protections that Trump has gutted. He won’t just rejoin the Paris climate agreement; he’ll also convene a summit with global leaders and ask them to join the U.S. in more ambitious pledges to address this crisis. He knows this is a global problem that demands a global solution.

With a Biden-Harris administration, we can look forward to a long list of infrastructure upgrades, including rebuilding our schools so they are energy-efficient and converting all 500,000 school buses in our country to zero emissions. Biden will lock in progress now, so that no future president can take us backwards again.

Of course, Biden alone isn’t the solution to any issue, including climate change. Collective action from ordinary people like you and me is the only path forward if we want to actually solve the climate crisis. But Biden is the candidate who gave environmental justice advocates, young people, and union workers a seat at the table as he developed his plan.

After four long, hard years of trying to make progress on climate justice under Trump, I know the importance of having leaders who will actually listen to us and work with us. I, and my fellow Sunrise Movement organizers, have every intention of continuing to push for progress after the election — but the progress we seek is only feasible if we elect Joe Biden next Tuesday. Under Biden, we have a fighting chance at the future we deserve: one where your zip code doesn’t determine your access to clean water and air; one where housing and healthcare are acknowledged as human rights; one where communities get the support they need to rebuild after natural disasters. One where everyone can not just survive, but thrive.

With so much at stake, I’m devastated that I cannot vote in this election cycle. I’m just shy of 18. But what I can do is use my voice to encourage as many people as possible to vote for change on or before November 3.

The power to defeat Trump lies in the hands of young people. We are the nation’s largest block of voters. We’ve already been heading to the polls in record numbers. We must show up in full force on Tuesday. Our votes are the difference between a continued climate freefall and true progress for our planet. So let’s cross the finish line strong: make a plan to vote, volunteer to call voters in key swing states, and help us defeat Donald Trump. Then, get involved with organizations like Sunrise that will keep pushing for progress after the election. Our future is worth fighting for.

Naina Agrawal-Hardin (she/hers) is a high school senior based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In addition to organizing locally for climate justice, she co-founded the Sunrise Movement’s National Middle & High School Support Team. She also does national political and partnerships work with Sunrise.