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Public Citizen Intern Penelope Ackling Urges Climate Action at Austin City Hall Rally

Event draws city council members, activists and local media

Penelope Ackling, a Public Citizen intern and University of Texas student, delivered a passionate, intelligent plea for a unified effort to solve the climate crisis during a Sept. 30 rally at Austin City Hall. You can watch the video here. A copy of Ackling’s remarks is below.

Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you all for being here. Really, thank you.

I am Penelope Ackling, and I am twenty years old. In my twenty years of life I have only known climate change as the single biggest threat to my generation’s future. And in my twenty years of life I have only known of national, regional, and local leaders who have failed to effectively act on the single biggest threat to my generation’s future. But today, our local elected leaders have committed to defending our generation and have demonstrated on a local level that good democracy exists.

Young people, we can’t afford to wait ten or twenty years until we are the decision makers of the world to fix the broken systems that we have inherited ourselves. We might not have the money or the power to combat the climate crisis as individuals, but together we can make noise. Together our voices are loud and can echo across borders and across generations. Our collective voice can elect climate champions into office, it can hold our representatives accountable, and it will enact change.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the nature of climate chaos: the way it engulfs every sector of modern life. But I want to challenge us to look for the opportunity that creates. Opportunity to rebuild the world we want to see. To act informed on the mistakes that have gotten us here and to commit ourselves to being agents of change in our respective realms of influence. We all have unique experiences and knowledge and talents that are needed in the fight against climate injustice. Whether your interests lie in public health, education, the arts, stem, business, or government, your field needs climate justice solutions. We all have a role to play in fighting for systemic change, and I see the solutions in each of us.

When we show up together and support one another, we can overcome the weight of injustice. Across communities we must listen for solutions that uplift historically marginalized communities.  Across backgrounds we must understand the ways we influence life around us. In coalition we can begin to heal. Organizations provide an outlet for our passions, our joy, our needs. They remind us why we are in this fight. Find an organization you believe in. Let it serve you, and pour into it what you learn. Watch as that community changes you as you yourself change the world.

Now we can each take an action that will demonstrate our collective voice. Pull out your phones, open a browser and go to linktr.ee/climateequityplanaction. Here you can find resources to help you craft emails to our city manager and council members, asking them to devote their time and the city’s budget to the Austin Climate Equity Plan. I challenge you to share this link with your friends and followers. Again, I am Penelope Ackling. Thank you for showing up today. Thank you for supporting the change we deserve.