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Berkeley youth may win everlasting place on metropolis local weather fee – Berkeleyside


A eucalyptus grove on the UC Berkeley campus. Photograph: Jerome Paulos.

Berkeley’s surroundings and local weather fee may quickly develop by one or two seats that will be reserved for youth between 12 and 19 years previous. 

The transfer would make youth a everlasting fixture of the fee liable for advising the Berkeley Metropolis Council on environmental matters, together with decreasing town’s greenhouse fuel emissions. 

The main points — together with the variety of seats and the method for appointing the members — are nonetheless being finalized. The council ought to vote on the problem in October, in keeping with Councilmember Kate Harrison.

Sam Kaplan-Pettus, an 18-year-old pupil at Berkeley Metropolis College, is behind a push to get youth devoted seats on the Setting and Local weather Fee. Courtesy: Sam Kaplan-Pettus.

Behind the concept is Sam Kaplan-Pettus, an 18-year-old Berkeley Metropolis College pupil who needs to deliver extra youth voices into native politics.

“One group of residents of our metropolis that has actually disregarded of coverage selections are youth,” Kaplan-Pettus mentioned. “Youth in Berkeley can’t vote and but are going to be affected by the insurance policies which might be occurring proper now, [especially] with local weather change.” 

Members of the local weather fee are at present appointed by metropolis councilmembers. The appointments can embody youth, however it’s not widespread. If accepted, this variation would guarantee youth illustration on this fee, and their proper to vote on it. 

Kaplan-Pettus has been lively in politics for years; he’s served as a YMCA Youth Governor and was chair of Berkeley’s Youth Fee for the final two years. Throughout these experiences, he began desirous about how one can get youth into management roles with actual energy to have an effect on change.

He started reaching out to metropolis officers and, over six months, developed a cadre of advisers and supporters for his concept that embody councilmembers Terry Taplin, Rigel Robinson, Rashi Kesarwani and Harrison, college board director Ana Vasudeo, and the chair of the local weather fee, Ben Gould.

On Wednesday, the local weather fee voted 6-2 so as to add a single youth seat, following a advice by town’s Youth Fee. Marc Hedlund and Shannon Allen have been the nay votes; Hedlund had launched a movement to solely require a youth seat on the fee for 4 years.

“Is there any situation that impacts youth extra? I don’t assume so,” Harrison mentioned.

Harrison has agreed to jot down a proposal that will add two youth seats to the fee. She mentioned she wished to maintain the seats at an odd quantity.

Younger individuals have lengthy affected change in Berkeley, main local weather actions and serving to go a partial ban on single-use plastics in dining. Final 12 months, highschool pupil Ella Suring was one among 4 individuals to spearhead a climate literacy resolution, which ensures BUSD college students will graduate with an understanding of the causes and potential options for human-induced local weather change.

However the efforts usually include an expiration date. As soon as college students graduate from highschool, their efforts can peter out. This decision would formalize youth participation in metropolis coverage making.

“If there’s a technique to educate children early … that there’s issues that they’ll do to make a everlasting change, I believe that can make a extremely large distinction, particularly in youth group engagement and authorities engagement,“ mentioned Cecilia Lunaparra, a UC Berkeley pupil on the local weather fee and the president of Cal Berkeley Democrats. 

Lunaparra mentioned having a number of younger individuals on the fee may make them really feel extra welcome. Being the one younger individual, she mentioned, “could be a little intimidating.”

Whereas Kaplan-Pettus is glad to see his concept shifting ahead, he mentioned he confronted an “uphill battle” of logistical challenges to see it by way of. It reminded him of how excessive is the “barrier to entry for the group, particularly youth.”

Sooner or later, Kaplan-Pettus envisions including youth seats to all town’s commissions, however it stays to be seen if he can garner help for that concept as effectively.


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