Elected officials are grappling with plenty of issues: climate change, unemployment, inequality, and more. But some young activists say that these urgent crises are best solved together.

“The only way that we’re going to get our country to 100% renewable energy is if we do things like retrofit buildings, or update our infrastructure or install solar panels, and that takes jobs,” says Dejah Powell, the Midwest lead organizer with the Sunrise Movement, a youth activist group.

Sunrise activists are calling for a national program that would guarantee a job to anyone who wants one. Powell says that such a program would help build the labor force needed to transition the country from fossil fuels to clean energy.

And she says it would create opportunities for people in communities that have lacked jobs and investment for generations. So it could help address systemic racism and economic inequality.

“As a young Black girl who grew up on the South Side and south suburbs of Chicago, I think about my family and I think about my friends,” she says. “I think we have some of the highest unemployment rates in a city like Chicago. And it means having opportunities.”

So the Sunrise Movement is calling for solutions that address the climate crisis and social justice.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media