Photo: Robin Loznak, Our Children’s Trust

“For most of his 15 years, Levi Draheim led a beachy life on a barrier island on Florida’s east coast, swimming, surfing and sailing in the nearshore waves. He dreamed of someday becoming a marine biologist. But Levi’s world is changing…

Levi Draheim lived on a barrier island on Florida’s east coast until recently, when he and his family say climate change impacts like flooding prompted them to move to the mainland.

‘It’s kind of disappointing not being able to live on the barrier island anymore, because there’s so much fun stuff that I could do. Most of my friends, they live on the barrier island,” says Levi, now in Melbourne, Fla. ‘It’s a mix of disappointment and also frustration, frustration with leaders.”

Earlier this year, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced a plan to put the state on a path toward cleaner energy, cutting the emissions Florida contributes to the climate disruptions that are already battering it. Behind the plan was a focused campaign by some 200 young Floridians all under the age of 25. Levi was the youngest.

Young Floridians filed a petition

The young Floridians had found something in state statutes, with help from Our Children’s Trust, an advocacy group, that Florida leaders, including Fried, apparently had overlooked: that Fried’s department is mandated to set goals for enhancing renewable energy use in the state. In Florida, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees the state’s Office of Energy.

The young Floridians filed a petition for rulemaking in January admonishing the state leaders and especially Fried for ignoring the statutory mandate. The petition called on the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Fried to set goals for moving Florida toward 100% clean energy by 2050. Levi felt proud of holding elected leaders accountable but felt they were capable of more.

Florida’s new goals call for 100% renewable energy by 2050…”

— Amy Green, NPR produced in partnership with Inside Climate News.

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Citizens for a Scenic Florida