Faces of the Campaign is an ongoing series featuring our key organizers and stakeholders involved in “Put A Price On It, D.C.” Our coalition of 80+ organizations is comprised of racial justice activists, union workers, health advocates, moms, dads, kids, retirees, and business-owners alike. Jiayu Xu is a summer intern working on the campaign. Here’s her story.
What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Jiayu Xu. I am a rising junior who majors in International Relations and Environmental Studies at Tufts University. As a nature lover, I care about the environment.
What woke you up to the climate crisis?
Majoring in Environmental Studies and taking courses entirely or partially devoted to climate change have made me aware of the climate crisis. However, I still attribute the COP23 I have attended as the event that I personally felt the imminency of this crisis. At the international conference, I was overwhelmed by statistics, lectures, pavilions, and conversions which were all exclusively focused on the topic of climate change. Being surrounded by scholars, representatives from diverse NGOs, and delegates all over the world further made me realize the climate crisis which is urgent and which deserves the attention worldwide. It occurred to me that the professional and intergovernmental discussions of reducing carbon emissions and of adapting to climate change were truly taking place around me, instead of appearing remotely in the news.
Why does supporting equitable clean energy policy in DC matter to you?
Clean energy policy matters to me because I think it is necessary to switch to renewable clean energy in order to lower carbon emissions. The fact that clean energy is getting cheaper and cheaper means that clean energy is more economically affordable to the public. Meanwhile, I care strongly about the policy being equitable, because I never want low-income families to bear the cost of policy disproportionately.
How is this campaign different from other environmental campaigns you’ve experienced in the past?
The environmental campaigns I have previously been engaged with were solely environmental-oriented, such as animal conservation, renewable energy. By combining economics and environmental policy, this campaign introduces monetary incentives into the goal of reducing carbon emissions. By taking the course named Environmental Economics at university, I had the chance to do the calculations to understand the magnificent effect of carbon pricing, which managed to both reduce substantial amounts of carbon dioxide and generate abundant revenues. As a result, I personally regard carbon pricing as the most effective tool for combatting climate change, by introducing the positive effects that money can bring to the environment. Thus, I am honored to work on this campaign.
How has climate change impacted your own community?
The climate change has brought increasing amounts of rainfall during summer in my city, Nanjing. Sometimes it rains so heavily that the city gets flooded, which causes huge inconvenience to residents and damage to properties. In recent years, it becomes quite common that the city is flooded, on average, two or three times in the summer, which is something that has never happened before. To me, seeing my beloved city undergoing such negative change is disturbing and prompts me to focus on the climate change.
What was your favorite moment in this campaign?
My favorite moment in this campaign was to have the chance to collectively work towards the same goal with other interns who share the same passion about the environment. Though we come from different backgrounds and studying at different universities, we are lucky enough to come together to the forefront of pushing for aggressive clean energy policy. After witnessing several environmental rollbacks, I feel that simply the daily scene of ten of us sitting at the same table in the office is a powerful message to myself, which continuously reminds me that I am not alone.
Tell me about a time you’ve witnessed community power.
The time I have witnessed community power is by participating in the Women’s March in Boston. That was my first time to see so many people clustered at downtown Boston. Everyone, no matter what age, ethnicity, gender, and occupation, was holding up signs and shouting out loudly what they wished to change. At that moment, Boston represented a voice that was so strong.
What was your biggest accomplishment on this campaign?
My biggest accomplishment on this campaign is to become more confident to communicate. Petitioning sharpens my oral skills to deliver our message to people of different backgrounds. Thus from time to time, I need to rephrase my pitch in order to make the idea more acceptable to others. Also, I enjoy the active interactions with other people. Some people are willing to share with me their own insights on this topic, which give me the precious chance to understand the policy in different contexts. Meanwhile, birddogging councilmembers is something I have never done before, and something I have never imagined myself doing. But two weeks ago, I managed to do it!
One word summing up your experience with this campaign:
Best place to get breakfast in DC?
Tony Cheng with dim sum.