By Flannery Winchester
Jeremy Clark and Charlie Abrams are not your average high school freshmen. They’ve been active climate advocates since they were in the fifth grade. Their youth has never hampered them, though—in fact, it’s a benefit. Jeremy says, “Being the youngest in an audience, or the youngest on stage, lets you stand out. It only gives you the opportunity to make more of an impact.”
And boy, have they made an impact! As members of the Portland, Oregon chapter of CCL, they’ve already lobbied their members of Congress in Washington, D.C., been featured on local news, and testified in support of clean energy legislation. Last year they were nominated for the Children’s Climate Prize, and they flew to Sweden to be recognized, and just last month, they received the 2018 International Young Eco-Hero Award. Watch their acceptance video here:
Today they’re sharing a little about themselves, their achievements, and what keeps them motivated to tackle the big challenge of climate change.
When not advocating for climate solutions, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
Jeremy: I love going to the bouldering gym in my spare time. Climbing benefits the body and generally makes me feel relaxed and happy.
Charlie: I wrestle for my high school. I like to boulder, play trumpet in our jazz and advanced bands, and just hang out with friends.
How did you first get connected with CCL?
Charlie: We found out about them through our work in other organizations that led to us attending one of their workshops about a year ago. We started really getting involved after they raised $1,000 for us to fly to Washington, D.C., and lobby on the other side of the country [for the June 2017 conference].
Jeremy: After meeting the passionate volunteers and learning more about Fee and Dividend in D.C., Charlie and I now attend meetings with our local CCL chapter.
What did you like about CCL?
Jeremy: Charlie and I volunteer with other climate change organizations on the state level, but CCL makes a difference on the national level. On my first national lobby day I noticed that CCL had the most organized lobby day I had ever been to, which is vital when attempting to pass such major legislation. Plus, the monthly chapter meetings create an easy opportunity to get involved because the date never changes: every second Saturday!
Please tell us about the Children’s Climate Prize and your trip to Sweden.
Jeremy: We first received an email from the Children’s Climate Prize asking us to sign up for their prize in the summer of 2017. We decided it couldn’t hurt, so we filled out a submission form and recorded a video about ourselves and sent it in. Despite our doubts of being nominated, CCP’s sponsor Telge Energi flew us to Sweden in recognition of our efforts. In Sweden, we made friends with the other finalists from all over the world, and even talked with Edgar Edmund, the winner of the Children’s Climate Prize.
The award ceremony was a whole lot more than I expected. Despite being shy, the Swedes really know how to party. The award ceremony was held in a science museum with countless interactive experiments for visitors, a stage, and dozens of tables for dinner. It was a lot to take in—in a good way! Seeing kids from all over the world persistently fighting for climate justice gave me hope. The mega-corporations and politicians have money. But money cannot outdo the sheer power of will. And we’ve got a lot of that.
Charlie: The award ceremony is a night I won’t forget because of how many new climate activists I discovered and how many I’m still friends with today.
What keeps you motivated to do this work?
Charlie: Sweden gave me a lot of motivation. Seeing youth in the most different parts of the world fighting for the same cause would give anybody motivation. Also, keeping in touch with the people I met meant that I could work with people and projects on the other side of the world and bring them to Portland.
Jeremy: Sometimes I lose motivation. Sometimes I just want to go climbing and hang out with friends. It’s difficult to deal with the lack of meaningful climate action on the federal level, but then I remember that my generation’s future is at stake. We’re counting on dedicated volunteers like you to take action and convince lawmakers that the Fee and Dividend policy creates economic growth and protects the environment.
Got a suggestion for our Volunteer Spotlight series? Send the name, chapter and some brief info about the volunteer to Flannery Winchester at flannery @ citizensclimatelobby.org.