[Note: Adah Crandall was unable to give her speech at the “Doom or Bloom” event at Zenith Energy transshipment facility on June 4, 2022. Liam Castles read her speech, with a few introductory remarks. Liam Castles (he/they) is an organizer with Portland Youth Climate Strike and Sunrise’s Youth vs. ODOT campaign. They’ve worked on the Portland Youth Climate Summit and met with elected officials to advocate for stronger climate policies like last year’s treasury transparency bill.]
Before I go into what Adah has asked me to share with you, I want to remind you that a few weeks ago at the climate strike, Commissioner Carmen Rubio and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty signed the climate pledge. They committed to no new fossil fuel infrastructure. Now it’s our job to hold them accountable. That means there are only three more city commissioners to go, and all of them need to hear our voices, so let’s make as much noise as we can!
On May 20, thousands of Portland students walked out of school demanding our leaders take bold, urgent action to stop the climate crisis. At the strike, we named 4 local climate villains: Northwest Natural, the Portland Business Alliance, the Oregon Dept. of Transportation, and Zenith.
Zenith has been at the center of Portland climate advocacy for years. The facility is a threat to our communities, safety, and environment. Its activities are actively contributing to climate chaos in our city, yet the majority of our elected officials act like they have no idea.
Stopping the climate crisis means disrupting business as usual, and rapidly transitioning us away from fossil fuels. Zenith is a barrier to true climate progress in Portland, relying on the capitalist status quo to continue justifying their harm.
All of us are here today because we know that things need to change. That Zenith and the other climate villains have no place in our city, or anywhere.
Portland has the opportunity to be a leader in taking bold climate action, but how can we lead when corporations like Zenith are right here in our own backyard? Many elected officials in Portland claim to be leaders on climate, but if they truly want to do what’s right, it is crucial that they stand with us in the fight to stop Zenith.
As a young person, I am terrified about what the climate crisis means for my future. Devastating heat waves and wildfires will only worsen with every day our leaders refuse to act. My generation can see with stark clarity both the need and possibility for radical change in our world. We have a perspective older generations often lack, an ability to imagine what a better world could look like as we are so much less bound but what is considered ‘politically possible.’
The climate crisis is of unprecedented scale, which means that we need to match it with unprecedented action. When we harness the power of our communities, we ARE more powerful than Zenith and our climate chaos-causing status quo. We are more powerful than all of Portland’s climate villains combined, because we have what they do not: a real stake in this fight.
The goal of the May 20 Climate Strike was to kick off a summer of climate action, and that is exactly what we are doing today. We are telling the climate villains, and Portland’s leaders, that we are not going away. We refuse to give up in this fight, because our futures are too great a stake to lose.