By Matt Oberhoffner June 20, 2019

Hey everyone! My name is Matt Oberhoffner, and I’m honored to introduce myself as the project director of Defend Our Future. I’ve spent the last four years working at Environmental Defense Fund, just down the hall from the Defend team, on a host of climate policy and politics initiatives (you can read more about me here, if you like!) but now I’m working with Defend directly. And I could not be more excited to have the opportunity to work with a community that has the power to do nothing less than change the course of climate action in America.

The team has been working on some exciting new initiatives the last few months, and we’ll be talking about them soon in this blog and over email (sign up here so you don’t miss Kyli’s exceptional emails.) But as we get ready to roll up our sleeves and once again make a big push for real climate solutions from lawmakers in Washington, I think it’s worth taking time to reflect on why we – the Defend staff, and you in the Defend community of young environmental leaders all over the country – are doing this work.

Defend Our Future exists because Congress isn’t doing its job.

Our representatives in Washington have known about the threat from climate change for decades, but have failed to do nearly enough to stop it. And even though countless polls consistently show young people care deeply about climate change, regardless of political affiliation, too few of our representatives in Washington are recognizing it as the urgent priority that it is.

Young People Can End the Climate Change Stalemate in Washington

If we want to change the policies pushed by Congress, we have to show up and raise our voices. And not just on election day. Our leaders need to know that we are watching, and we are ready, willing, and able to hold them to account for their actions year in and year out. That means showing up to vote, sure, but it also means showing up at their offices, in their neighborhoods at town halls or events, in their newsfeeds and in their press clips year round, every year, demanding that they defend our future.

Defend Our Future remains as committed as ever to empowering young people to change the way Washington works. It is not easy, but it is simple: If young people show up, stand together, and demand that Congress acts to defend our future from the catastrophic impacts of climate change, we can force them to take action. We must build a movement that demands this action, that builds a bipartisan majority to address climate change head on, and we are excited to equip you with the tools and skills to make that movement a reality. We’ll show you how to set up meetings with your Member of Congress to push for climate action. We’ll explain how you can get on the list to speak at a public hearing, whether in DC or in your hometown. And we’ll show you — step by step — how to craft a letter or opinion piece for your local paper. Whether its attending a training in Washington DC, participating in one of our monthly skills webinars, or downloading a house party toolkit to get your community organized, we’ve got you covered.

A 100 percent clean economy is 100 percent achievable… if our leaders want it to be.

Climate change threatens our health, our economy, and most definitely our future. But it doesn’t have to be this way. A 100 percent clean energy economy is within reach if our policymakers in Washington make it a priority. It means replacing dirty energy sources with wind, solar and other clean sources of power. It means electrifying our transportation fleet. It also means pulling climate pollution from the atmosphere in a variety of ways – everything from protecting forests to advancing technologies that remove carbon pollution directly from the air.

It’s easy to forget that America has quite the history of ingenuity – we’ve put humans on the moon. We kicked off the digital age! We can do this, too.

Collective organizing from young people works.

In previous generations, young people helped drive real progress on civil rights, women’s rights, and much more. And the power of young people demanding change is still on full display today. From the young people in Parkland saying #NoMore to gun violence, or the #FridaysForFuture youth climate strikes, young people are making a difference and more of
our representatives are taking note. But there’s much more work ahead of us.

Young people can make sure climate change stays front and center in Washington. And we need to, because climate advocacy is nothing less than justice advocacy. Climate change will hurt poor and minority communities the hardest, and young people will be the ones who face the worst consequences of climate change if we don’t defend our future.

If we organize, we will have power in numbers. If we show up and raise our voices, we can make change. Politicians need to know that we are 100% here for it when it comes to fighting for change. We will do it together, and it starts now.

The Defend team will start to share details soon on what we have planned for the rest of the year and beyond. Thanks for everything you do – I can’t wait to see what we’re able to accomplish together.