Protesters gather at Capitol, MG&E to demand clean energy, climate action

Concert begins at noon, march to MG&E to follow

Thousands attended a climate strike at the Wisconsin State Capitol building Friday afternoon.

Madison residents are participating in the worldwide Global Climate Strike Movement, leading one of thousands of rallies taking place across the globe.

“We are in deep trouble on planet Earth, very deep trouble,” said rally organizer Tim Cordin. “We need an amazing, dramatic turnaround now by all of us. We need to change the way we live in every way.”

Cordin said youth have done an amazing job leading the way.

NOW: People are gathering for #globalclimatestrikemadison. The group will march to @MGEMadison soon to demand it transition to 100% clean energy by 2030. There are a lot of young people in attendance. #news3now

— Amanda Quintana (@AmandaQTV) September 20, 2019

“I mean, the fate of the entire planet is at stake here, and no one is doing anything, it feels like,” said Elise Gotthardt.

The 18-year-old Youth Initiative High School student traveled the almost two hours from Viroqua to attend the rally with her fellow classmates.

“We have to deal with what former generations have done to the Earth and we want to improve upon it and not destroy it more. With people that are in office now, we need to see some kind of change,” said Youth Initiative High School student Miranda Whitaker.

The group is marching to demand that Gov. Tony Evers declare a state of climate emergency and that Madison Gas and Electric transition to 100% clean energy by 2030 and divest from the Columbia and Elm Road coal-fired power plants, according to a press release.

MG&E said in a statement Friday shortly after noon that its net-zero carbon goal of 2050 is based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

“This is the same report submitted as Congressional testimony this week by the young climate change activist Greta Thunberg who told Congress to listen to the IPCC science. And that’s what we’re doing,” the statement reads.

It continues, “Our net-zero goal announced earlier this year signals our direction, but it doesn’t determine our pace–we’re doing everything we can to achieve net-zero as quickly as we can.”

“It’s the politicians, the political class that’s way behind us,” said Adam Schesh, a 77-year-old grandfather of two.

“I said to myself, ‘What the heck am I doing leaving money for them in the will if the world’s going to be a hellhole in 20 years?'” said Schesh.

He created the group Grandparents Demand Climate Change Now to push politicians to create a national effort to stop climate change because he said the elderly are the largest voting bloc.

On Friday, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Evers tweeted their support of the people rallying Friday.

Thank you to the young people who are calling for meaningful action on the #climatecrisis. Please keep speaking out about this critical issue! #climatestrike

— WI AG Josh Kaul (@WisDOJ) September 20, 2019

Evers said the state has a responsibility to “invest in solutions that help to mitigate the changes that have already occurred.”

I commend the youth here in WI, across the nation, and around the globe who are striking today to demand action on climate change. I’m committed to getting WI on the right track. That’s why I set a goal of making WI 100% carbon-free. #ClimateStrike

— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) September 20, 2019

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway also released a statement, saying she was “inspired by the thousands of high school students” who are leading the way.

“Madison’s climate is changing and we have a moral imperative to reduce carbon pollution and prepare for climate impacts. I take this responsibility seriously and sustainability is a guiding principle of my administration,” said Rhodes-Conway.

She said the city is taking meaningful steps to respond to climate change, including electrifying city vehicles and implementing bus rapid transit.

#globalclimatestrikemadison is arriving at @MGEMadison. Hundreds are marching down Main St. to protest the lack of action in the face of climate change. #news3now

— Amanda Quintana (@AmandaQTV) September 20, 2019

Madison police said the rally caused minor traffic delays but the rally was planned and there were no significant issues reported.

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