I spent most of Nov. 8, 2016, anxiously waiting for news, as most of my peers at the time did. My 18th birthday fell on the Friday after the election, frustratingly short of the deadline to be eligible to vote, so I was left hoping the rest of the United States would make a good decision for my future.
The lack of power I felt was unimaginable. Already, I couldn’t wait for the next election, when I would finally have a say in what happens to my country.
For myself and many college students, the 2020 election will be the first presidential election that we are able to cast our vote in. This means it will be the first time our voices will truly be heard and the first time candidates will have to ask themselves what it is they need to do to earn our votes.
It’s important that we, as the next generation of votes, not only cast our ballots but also that we prioritize climate change as the most urgent and pressing issue we’re facing in the next 10 years.
The goal is to avoid the planet warming 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, at which point the risks that come with global warming increase. According to the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we have until 2030 to drastically reduce the amount of carbon emissions we’re producing and until 2050 to be completely net zero, to avoid that mark.
These deadlines are only going to get closer if we don’t do something quickly. They’re unavoidable, and we need a president who is willing to fight for the changes necessary to meet those goals.
The next president could potentially be in office for 8 of the 10 years that we have to make change. It’s not enough for them to be willing to make small changes. It’s not enough for them to be open to ideas. It’s not enough for them to simply voice their support of climate change initiatives. They have to be fully committed to putting tight regulations on corporations, and changing the way we produce energy in our country.
2020 could actually be climate change's year. But the climate crisis encompasses many different issues. Here is your ultimate interactive guide to know where the 2020 presidential candidates stand on these issues. https://t.co/Cy5AD4AVmx— grist (@grist) September 12, 2019
All of the democratic candidates for 2020 have issued their own climate change plans, and it’s important to look carefully at all of them. Some, like Senator Cory Booker's plan, take extra care to look at how climate change will disproportionately affect marginalized communities. Others, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, have opted instead for including some kind of climate change initiative in many of their proposals, for example those on trade, manufacturing, and the military.
While the price tags for all of these plans may seem high, the risks that come with doing nothing are even higher. Our generation can't afford to take those risks. If we want to grow up in a world at all similar to the one we were raised in, then that means making bold moves in the very near future.
On the other side of the spectrum, President Trump has taken almost every opportunity he could to roll back climate initiatives. Throughout his time in office, he’s rolled back or is in the process of rolling back 85 environment regulations.
While voters born after 1996 will only make up about 10 percent of the electorate in 2020, we can be a powerful force if we show up to vote and make our priorities known. This means voting for whichever candidate is most dedicated to keeping our world intact.
Brianna Wessling is a junior from Omaha studying English and journalism.