Dar-Lon Chang moved to this Denver suburb to start a new life. In Houston, he’d spent 16 years as an engineer at ExxonMobil, the nation’s largest fossil fuel producer. In Colorado, he planned to pursue a career in renewable energy, but the real draw was his new house. Oriented towards the sun, with solar panels on the roof and high-performing insulation, it was capable of generating as much carbon-free energy as it consumed. What little heating and cooling it required came from an efficient, all-electric heat pump. Through these parallel tracks—the domestic and the professional—he and his family would become part of the climate solution, he hoped, rather than participating in its destruction.
We often think of leadership as something elected officials and people in power embody. The truth is real leadership comes from the people, and the past week has proven that. On Friday, June 8th, people across the country showed us what real climate leadership looks like. As the US Conference of Mayors convened in a Boston convention center, hundreds of our friends and allies demonstrated outside to demand action for a Fossil Free future. They were joined by thousands of tweets at their mayors under the #RiseForClimate hashtag — so many, that the live Twitter feed inside the conference was completely taken over by #RiseForClimate tweets. Only one mayor, Tom Butt of Richmond, CA, came out to greet the protesters, but the strength of their demands could not be ignored inside the conference. Most of our elected officials aren’t truly leading on climate change. We, the people, need to demonstrate real climate leadership where our elected officials won’t.