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Notre Dame encouraging kids to combat climate change

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - On the heels of this historic February flooding, Notre Dame hosted local students to encourage them to be the leaders in combating climate change. Meanwhile, a South Bend Common Council member is using a university report to draft a Climate Recovery Ordinance.

It's still in the early stages, but if the Common Council ends up passing the ordinance, South Bend would become the second city in the nation, after Eugene, Oregon, to enact legislation targeting climate change.

In Michiana, this CRO couldn't come at more opportune time.

Roads turned to rivers, parks to ponds, and streets to sewers this past week.

“These types of big floods are to be expected in a warming climate. We’re doing this to ourselves, and we need to do something about it," said Notre Dame Sustainability Professor, Philip Sakimoto.

He's encouraging students to take the lead.

The more than 100 kids who attended the documentary screening of "Little Warriors" Tuesday knew their stuff, with one young girl getting up and explaining climate change to the entire auditorium.

“Kids have the power to take us out of our day to day thinking, our day to day strategies to focus on making a safer, cleaner planet for our kids to live on," said Jim Poyser, Executive Director for Earth Charter Indiana.

With the help of a report put together by Notre Dame students and professors, South Bend Common Council member Jo Broden is working on a Climate Recovery Ordinance for the city.

“That would be essentially giving us the authority, the city of South Bend to look internally, set some benchmarks as to how we might be able to implement different policies and procedures and open up funding avenues within our budget to actually bring about efforts that would mitigate climate change," said Council member Broden.

“The pace of all the things that are being proposed at the national and the international levels is much too slow—and a city can work as Mayor Pete likes to say, a lot more nimbly, so on a city level, we can do a lot, we can do a lot more quickly, we can set an example that we hope will flow into the county and state level," said Professor Sakimoto.

The kids are on board.

“I think this time of climate change movement is different in that this affects our literal future and our survival on this planet, and that because we’ve had adults maybe not taking the strongest action for so long, seeing the youth taking that over and becoming involved and feeling like activists is really great," said John Adams High School Junior, Julia McKenna.

Council member Broden hopes to submit the ordinance to the Common Council by the end of 2018.

To hear what the Director of Sustainability for South Bend thinks about kids getting involved in climate change prevention, check out this video.

To hear from Notre Dame students who helped put together the report on which the ordinance is based, check out this video.

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