'There's No More Later Left': Wisconsin Launches Climate Change Task Force

Oct 18, 2019

Gov. Tony Evers' administration has been promoting action on climate change since his inauguration day in January. In Milwaukee Thursday, Evers took a step toward tangible action.

He announced the creation of a task force charged with coming up with recommendations to combat climate change.

The backdrop of Evers' step toward climate action couldn't have been more on point. He made his announcement at the Urban Ecology Center, inside a building that could hardly be more sustainable. The center's mission is to engage kids in nature and the role they can play to steward it.

Many of the 31 people who will serve on Evers' Climate Change Task Force flanked the governor as he signed the executive order creating the panel.

"The task force will be a collaborative effort across disciplines with those in the agricultural community, the business community, higher educations working together to solve a huge problem," Evers says.

Gov. Tony Evers paused Thursday before signing the executive order to say how important climate action is.
Credit Susan Bence

As media captured the moment, Evers couldn't help pausing before putting pen to paper.

"I know you're waiting, but I just have to say, this is such an important executive order. It's not a Republican issue, it's not a Democratic issue, it's a Wisconsin issue. It's part of our value system, and I am so proud to be governor and be able to sign this executive order," Evers says.

Among the business people, elected officials and environmental groups Evers says will represent every corner of the state, is Rufus King High School senior Ayanna Lee. She's a member of the task force. Lee says she stands ready to influence action around climate change. 

"What I've been seeing is like 'later, later, later, later' — and there's no more later left anymore." - Ayanna Lee

"It's important that we figure out ways to stop it now and not just later. Because what I've been seeing is like 'later, later, later, later' — and there's no more later left anymore," Lee says.

As a task force member, Lee says she'll push for community education.

"Education is a big tool — how they can change their habits, how they can fight back and contact their elected officials and really make their voices heard," Lee says. "That's not something that we have at all."

READ: Wisconsin Teens Take Action On Climate Change

UW-Madison student Stephanie Salgado (second from left) says as a member of the new task force she'll work to build bipartisan buy-in to climate action.
Credit Susan Bence

Fellow task force member Stephanie Salgado is studying political science, along with the environment and public policy at UW-Madison. She hopes to bring more people to the climate action table.

"[I'm] not trying to convert you, instead I want to just show you how from your background it's affecting you and from my background, how it's affecting me. I'm not just seeking partisan solutions but bipartisan, so we come up with a holistic solution to this whole problem," Salgado says.

She says young people are learning to navigate the adult world to bring about climate action.

Evers hopes the task force has recommendations ready for the next budget cycle.

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