Speech at OMSI Youth Climate Event

Hi everyone, thank you all for being here today. My name is Victoria, and I’m up here with Mike today to talk to you about the work happening at Extinction Rebellion PDX.

Portland had yet another record-breaking heatwave recently that rolled us headfirst into fire season. Sweltering in that heat, breathing in the smoke, and really feeling the effects of climate change can often feel hopeless, but standing here with you all is inspiring. Thank you all for the work you do to protect our climate. 

As you all know very well, fighting climate change is one of the most pressing issues we face today, and as this new generation of climate activism blooms, I feel confident here today, hearing about all of the work you’ve done and are continuing to do: I know that we are in good hands. So, thank you for taking on this monumental challenge, for taking on the work that our elected leaders should be doing themselves, and for doing so with such grace. It really is an honor to be with you all today.

We have 4 basic demands at Extinction Rebellion that we structure all of our activism around.

The first demand is that we, and our government, tell the truth about climate change. They must work alongside the media to communicate the urgency for change including what individuals, communities, and businesses need to do.

The second demand is that our government takes action now. The government must enact legally-binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and take further action to remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases. 

Our third demand is to hold a citizens’ assembly. We do not trust our government because they have repeatedly, and systematically failed us in this fight time and time again. They’ve given SO much power to corrupt industries that value profits over people and our planet. We want to take that power back. 

Our final demand should go without saying. We demand a LIVABLE and JUST PLANET FOR ALL. We demand a just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty; one that establishes reparations and remediation led by and for BIPOC and poor communities. We want to see legal rights established for ecosystems to thrive and regenerate in perpetuity.

It feels pretty insane to be standing here today advocating for our leaders to take the existential threat of global climate change seriously, and I know you’ve all felt that too. I know this is a huge burden to bear, and it’s one that you never asked for. It’s important to remember that we are playing the long game here, and your stamina will be the most important piece. So friends, keep fighting.

For those of you here today looking for new ways to engage in this work, or if you’re not sure where to start, I’ll say that there are climate villains in our city, right here, right now, that you can take action against in this fight for a better world.

[Victoria Wingell gave this speech at the OMSI Youth Climate Event on August 13, 2022. Photo credit: Michael Fairhurst.]

About Victoria Wingell

Organizing for Power: Affinity Groups

Climate Crisis: Looking at the Bigger Picture