Shining light on the advocacy and sustainability work of young environmental leaders working to make their communities safer and cleaner. As part of our commitment to youth engagement and equity, we are holding an ongoing series of interviews with individuals and sharing their stories to spread awareness.
Amelia Kearney is an 18-year-old incoming freshman at Tunxis Community College studying liberal arts with the intent to study environmental sciences. She is involved in the leadership team at Sunrise CT: a hub of the youth-led, national Sunrise Movement.
The organization’s focus is combating climate change, reforming environmental legislation, and advocating for environmental justice. Her role in Sunrise CT is mainly regarding communications. She assists with their website, organizing events, and community building. She connected with many Connecticut legislators in pushing for the requiring of climate change teaching in public schools in the 2022 CT legislative session.
Amelia’s interest in the environmental movement began with her mom laying the foundation for her to adapt more eco-friendly habits, such as recycling, composting, and hanging laundry. She took an environmental class in high school, where she learned about the connection of climate change to the environment and chose to join the New Haven Climate Movement where she furthered her interest in the climate movement before joining Sunrise CT.
Her primary concern is conservation, which comes from her love for nature exploration. She believes that protecting natural places is essential for mental health, and the foundation of survival. It’s important to conserve the environment to protect the biodiversity of ecosystems and for carbon sequestration. She believes that a top climate priority relevant to today should be focusing on green energy to accelerate the independence from fossil fuels.
“It is essential that we transition to green energy swiftly to eliminate fossil fuels. A fossil fuel moratorium at the state level is needed,” Kearney said.
In February 2022, Amelia was involved in organizing a Climate Justice March with Save the Sound, Sierra Club CT, CT Citizen Action Group, and many more. Many gathered in Hartford, and it was there the coalition presented policy-focused demands for legislators to act on during the legislative session. One of the policies Amelia concentrated on was Climate Change Education, she worked closely youth activists and Connecticut legislators in making sure the requiring of climate change teaching was included in the budget. The requiring of climate change teaching was ultimately included in the passing of the budget, towards the end of the 2022 legislative session.
She also assisted Sunrise CT in organizing a Climate Strike on Earth Day, where they rallied hundreds together in Hartford to present their policy demands on a banner to Governor Ned Lamont. Amelia hopes that Connecticut will continue to lead in passing bold climate legislation.
Amelia’s advice for young activists looking to get involved in climate advocacy is to find a community of likeminded people. Finding a coalition of passionate people can be truly inspiring and encouraging to stand up for climate action at the legislative level.