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Albuquerque climate action demands more from industry and elected leaders


Albuquerque climate action demands more from industry and elected leaders

Sep 21, 2023 | 6:30 am ET
By Emma B. Mincks
Albuquerque climate action demands more from industry and elected leaders
Protestors gather in response to the "Building an Advanced Energy Ecosystem in New Mexico" summit in downtown Albuquerque on Sept. 14, 2023. (Photo by Anna Padilla for Source New Mexico)

Ahead of this week’s massive climate action in New York City and around the world, hundreds in downtown Albuquerque gathered to express their demands.

The Albuquerque Climate Strike took place on Sept. 14 where people marched from Robinson Park to outside of The Clyde Hotel, where elected leaders and business stakeholders attended the New Mexico Advanced Energy Summit. 

The Albuquerque climate event outside was put together by 23 local grassroots organizations in solidarity with hundreds of strikes taking place in over 100 countries. Additionally, 40 organizers involved with the Albuquerque event are in New York City to attend actions during Climate Week NYC

The Albuquerque delegation led the march on Sunday in New York city, with a banner that read: “New Mexico is Burning Biden and MLG: Climate Action Now!”

The Albuquerque event’s theme addressed the need for legislators, businesses and communities to implement real changes immediately.

Albuquerque climate action demands more from industry and elected leaders
Demonstrators gather outside the Clyde Hotel on Sept. 14, 2023 as part of the Climate Strike organized by the Youth United for Climate Crisis Action. (Photo by Anna Padilla for Source New Mexico)

In front of the hotel, speakers highlighted frustration with what they view as political hypocrisy by New Mexico elected officials that are promising to expand oil, gas, hydrogen and nuclear as “safe” solutions for meeting the state’s Net Zero goal.

Jonathan Juarez, a youth media representative with YUCCA, is one of those organizers currently in New York. On Monday, Juarez and other local leaders led a march in the city during the international event.

In Albuquerque, Juarez (Laguna/Isleta) criticized New Mexico’s Net Zero plan because “through sequestration or offsets, the concept enforces this market-based approach to the climate crisis” that does not actually slow production or hold polluters accountable. 

Alejandria Lyons, an organizer with New Mexico No False Solutions Coalition who also traveled to New York, said people inside The Clyde Hotel should understand that “real climate leaders don’t frack.”

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has led efforts to decarbonize the state by 2050 and directed state agencies “to shut down spills, leaks and waste in the oil and gas sector, which produces more than half of all carbon emissions in the state.” 

One of those efforts from Lujan Grisham came through an initiative she pushed to make New Mexico a national “hydrogen hub,” a plan that saw limited support by state legislators, but is marching on with plans for the executive such as awarding state subsidies for hydrogen businesses and continuing to apply for billions in federal investment money into the new energy sector.

Juarez outlined how hydrogen uses water electrolysis, which he cites as 60% more energy intensive than burning coal or gas. 

These “solutions” proposed by the industries themselves “will never never make up for the amount of carbon sent into the atmosphere through production,” Juarez argues.

Alternative solutions proposed at the rally included a People’s Climate Plan addressing the emergency in New Mexico and internationally. 

Leona Morgan (Diné) said that “nuclear energy cannot exist without nuclear weapons” and talked about the science of contaminated water tables from leaching chemicals used in supposed “green” solutions such as hydrogen and nuclear. 

Artists also performed at the event, highlighting that the heart of the protest was the soul. 

Destiny Krupnick shared their poem “Lifeblood” about the history of land-theft and colonization in New Mexico, with emotive lines and statistics about violence against Native women, linking historical and ongoing brutality with the contemporary presence of extractive industry in New Mexico.

Freddy Flowpez, one of the musical performers, said he wanted to attend the event to “support mother earth and remind people to care.”

Albuquerque climate action demands more from industry and elected leaders
Destiny Krupnick performs a poem she wrote for the Climate Strike rally in downtown Albuquerque organized by the Youth Unified for Climate Crisis Action on Sept. 14, 2023. (Photo by Anna Padilla for Source New Mexico)

International students from United World College in Montezuma, New Mexico also attended the Albuquerque protest. 

Lars Fattinger, a UWC-US student from Switzerland, wanted to join since it reflects his core values. 

Most speakers highlighted the consequences of hydrogen, nuclear, oil, and gas expansions in the state as harming residents here in the “sacrifice zone” and around the world. 

The energy summit was sponsored by fossil fuel companies. Juarez said, “giants like Chevron, Exxon Mobil, British Petroleum, Shell, and ConocoPhillips with local stakeholders like PNM and New Mexico Gas Company.”

He is concerned that while the proposed topic of the Summit is “technologies to mitigate the climate crisis”industry sponsorship negates the goal. 

Feleecia Guillen, a student-climate-organizer from New Mexico, says that groups have been asking elected leadership to listen and “step up and take action for our climate” before it’s too late. 

She referred to increasing global crises including extreme wildfires, flooding and environmental catastrophes worldwide in the past few weeks.

Guillen warns that quick and sustainable action is necessary because “we’re reaching a point where our leaders are going to have to listen to us.”