An Urgent Appeal for a Sustainable Energy Shift

Voices of the future: Gen Z advocates for change, opposing fossil fuel expansion and promoting renewable energy.

Published: May 31, 2023  |  

Youth environmental advocate, activist, and educator

Sustainable energy

Following the recent approval of the Willow Project in March and the Alaskan LNG project in April, the Biden Administration is being pressured by fossil fuel companies, LNG Allies, and Eurogas to increase liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to European countries. This means that the U.S. is (yet again) very close to perpetuating fossil fuel extraction, locking us into decades more of reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

LNG, or liquified natural gas, results from taking fracked gas and cooling it at extremely low temperatures to transport it using much less space. After being shipped across continents and oceans, LNG is regasified and then burned as an energy source to fuel: electricity, petrochemicals, heat homes, and even power cars. 

Fossil fuel companies claim that LNG is better (or “cleaner”) than other fossil fuels like coal or oil. However, this process is energy-intensive at every step, as the various stages—-cooling, transportation, regasifying—all emit methane, a greenhouse gas, which is “84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is emitted.”

This current energy debate—whether or not to cling to fossil fuels as our primary energy source—can be simplified to a household problem many have experienced: a leak in the roof. It’s easy to put a bucket under the leak. The bucket gives us peace of mind and lets us move on to problems that are more important and worthy of our time. However, the bucket method has one significant consequence: it doesn’t solve the problem.

Sticking a bucket under your leak is a hasty temporary solution that makes it easy to forget about the main issue. But what happens when the bucket overflows? 

I am a senior in high school, bound for college. As I spend these next few months eagerly awaiting my future, fear looms overhead. I worry about what my 20s and 30s will look like: Will my health suffer because of extreme pollution? Should I have kids if their futures will be dangerous and unpredictable? These, among others, are the questions that Gen Z is forced to worry about.

I am only 18 years old, yet I spend much of my time outside of school fighting against climate change. I educate other young people on climate issues, get involved with local elected officials, and encourage my community to take action in any way they can. We did not cause climate change, but we will find the solution. This is the most pervasive issue our world faces, and if we do nothing to stop it, my generation will suffer the most. 

Instead of prioritizing climate issues, we’ve let them build up over decades. The leak in our system has worsened so that the small crack that let water in has become a gaping hole. If the U.S. were a house, this decades-old leak would be climate change. Ignored for far too long, we must make a lasting repair. And we have to do it quickly.

But the U.S. is dangerously close to doing the opposite as the Biden administration considers trading more LNG to Europe.

Eurogas and LNG Allies’ recent letter to the Biden Administration, asking the U.S. to continue sending LNG to Europe, is another plea that will derail our climate commitments and fight against climate change. 

Because of the Ukrainian-Russian war, natural gas from Russia has been halted, leaving European homes with limited energy resources. Fossil fuel companies use this as an excuse to continue using fossil fuels and increase the extraction and trade of these harmful energy sources. In 2022, U.S. LNG exports increased from 8 to 10.6 percent, making it the world’s largest exporter.  

Fossil fuel companies are taking advantage of the geopolitical climate to secure their own businesses’ survival and profits. Instead of giving these corporations even more money, we should focus on a just transition to clean, renewable energy for all communities. This move to trade even more LNGs is not only a temporary solution to fix energy problems in Europe—it is a decisive action that will perpetuate the U.S.’s dependence on fossil fuels. 

Climate change is no longer a looming threat or a hypothetical problem. It’s happening right now; as we speak. Our world runs on a hydrocarbon economy as we still use fossil fuels as our primary energy source and heavily depend on petrochemicals. This system cannot be deconstructed in one day, maybe not even one year. 

We must think of long-term solutions. Our generation will inevitably face the harshest consequences of climate change, so these decisions are vital to the health and safety of our future. Renewable energy was 40 percent of global energy production—a record high! We must continue to support the expansion of renewable energy, not prop up fossil fuels. 

The U.S. is one of seven countries in the G-7 committee, where between May 19th – 21st, Biden had a chance to bring renewable energy, not LNG, to the discussion. 

And as a youth climate activist, I cheered for President Biden to say no to LNG export expansion and yes to renewable energy… 

But, yet again, I was disappointed when I heard the results of the G7 summit. The leaders concluded that continued LNG exports were atemporary” solution to the European energy crisis. They believe that eliminating dependence on Russian oil and gas is of the utmost importance, again showing themselves unwilling to prioritize the climate emergency. I understand that global energy demands must be met, but at what cost? Continuing LNG exports contradicts the G7 leaders’ commitment to stopping fossil fuel funding by the end of 2022.

Now it is likely that fossil fuel dependence has been locked down for the near future, as there were no mentions of when this “temporary” continuation of exports would be stopped. The G7 group has a goal to implement a “’fully or predominantly’ decarbonized electricity generating system by 2035,” but their actions contradict this commitment and will make it much harder to stick to the guidelines under the Paris Agreement. 

When will our work leaders prioritize the critical intersection of geopolitics and climate change? I am only 18 years old, but I consider climate change in all of my decisions, big and small. I weigh the advantages and disadvantages, and try my best to make a choice that is both sustainable and practical, even if only on a small scale.  I urge our global leaders to begin discussing political and environmental issues together, because the decisions they make today have a devastating ripple effect that will ultimately set the stage for global issues my generation must face, once theirs has gone. 


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