Harsh winter weather did not deter hundreds of young people from gathering on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol to push for new legislation on energy and global warming. Organizers say the rally was one of the largest in the U.S. focused on climate change.
Despite snow and freezing temperatures, hundreds of students -- appropriately wearing green -- rallied in front of the U.S. Capitol Monday demanding that Congress pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation.
The rally was part of a weekend conference in Washington called Power Shift 09, for young people concerned about climate change.
Katherine McEachern, a college student from New York state, says students were skipping school and braving the weather to demand action. "The snow was not going to stop us from being here," McEachern said. "We know this has to happen. We came down to D.C. to talk to our Congress people about why the U.S. needs to step up now."
The students are angry about global warming and the damage to animal habitats around the world. They say politicians must act immediately to reduce emissions, create green jobs, and work with other countries to tackle the climate crisis.
To make sure their representatives heard the message, they took their concerns directly to their representatives.
McEachern and other students from New York State met with an aide to their Congressman, Maurice Hinchey.
Jenna Dern led their lobbying effort. "It was really good," she said. "We had about 40 people in the room. Everyone got a voice. We had extra questions after."
Students from other states had similar meetings throughout the day.
Jessy Tolkan is executive director of the Energy Action Coalition, which organized the rally and meetings. She says the event was a chance for young people to get involved in politics and change policy. She says they will continue their work.
"This is only the beginning of what you will see of an emerging youth climate movement that is going to demand that our Congress put the strongest possible climate legislation on President Obama's desk to sign in 2009," Tolkan asserted.
Although the event drew hundreds, some members of Congress scheduled to attend canceled because of the snow.