Young people stage Global Climate Strike at City Hall

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of young Angelenos rallied and marched in the streets Sept. 15 to join others around the world in a Global Climate Strike, a day of action against climate inaction.

Youth Climate Strike Los Angeles, the group organizing the event, said they welcomed people from across the city as well as L.A. County outside of L.A. City Hall at noon to protest the lack of action they say is needed to address the climate crisis and save lives.

Prior to the rally outside of City Hall South Lawn, a small group of student climate activists addressed members of the City Council. While a few of their members gave public comments, a climate clock was held by two volunteers, symbolizing the need to address the climate crisis immediately.

“The climate crisis is already here … and it’s going to get worse,” Simon Aaron, a senior at Geffen Academy and member of Youth Climate Strike L.A., said. “It’s going to continue affecting all of us here in Los Angeles from heat waves to droughts and deadly air pollution.”

Aaron acknowledged that he was nervous attending the City Council meeting and speaking up, but he did it because he believes that as a city, “We can solve this crisis.”

“Youth Climate Strike and a bunch of other climate groups have presented you all with demands on how we can move forward together on the climate crisis. I hope you take them seriously,” he added.

Richie Torres, another member of Youth Climate Strike L.A., said he’s fighting for the future along with others.

“We are here with the purpose of being heard. The climate crisis is urgent and we need you to act on it with urgency,” Torres said. “Our only home is being treated as if we have an extra.”

Meredith Rose, who described herself as a mom, a community college teacher and “an ordinary citizen,” said she was there to support the youth of L.A., who are demanding city leaders address the climate crisis with urgency and declare a climate emergency.

“We are older, they are younger. It is our responsibility, including you, to make sure children in our city have a livable future for the kids now, for your grandkids in the future and for the children of people you don’t even know,” Rose said. “We can’t pretend any longer that climate chaos is not happening, and you have the power to do something about it.”

Following their comments, the group left the Council Chambers to meet up with the rest of their group. Aaron told City News Service that City Council members have done a lot to address the climate crisis, but it’s not nearly enough.

He added, “I don’t think they’re taking this crisis as seriously as it needs to be taken.”

The office of Council President Paul Krekorian highlighted that the Energy and Environment Committee was debating the size of setbacks — the distance between active oil wells and sensitive uses — as initiated by a motion he introduced to make oil and gas extraction a nonconforming use throughout the city.

“The council president shares the climate strike activists’ concern with the dangers posed by a manmade climate catastrophe,” a statement from Krekorian’s office said. “He hopes they will continue to pressure all levels of government from action as we in Los Angeles continue our progress towards carbon-free electricity, and all-electric buildings and vehicles.”

In addition, the city is nearing the end of 130 years of oil and gas drilling in residential areas. The city is also leading the way to a 100% carbon-free electrical generation by the year 2035 under the direction of its LA100 plan.

Members of Youth Climate Strike said they’ve been contacting some of the council members, such as the office of Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky and Krekorian’s deputy for environmental policy, in an effort to work on climate issues. However, the group remains focused on engaging with L.A. County supervisors, as well as the L.A. City Department of Water and Power and L.A. Unified School District.

Aaron said Youth Climate Strike L.A. is working with the Sunrise Movement, a national climate justice organization, on a “Green New Deal” for schools campaign, where they will organize young people across the country to fight for greener deals at their school districts.

But the Sept. 15 action, he noted, is about being heard and getting the group’s demands to L.A. City leaders, L.A. County, LAUSD and the city’s Department of Water and Power.

The first Global Climate Strike was in September 2019, inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who started demanding political action by skipping school and protesting to the Swedish parliament.

Since then, climate strikes have been led by youth leadership across the globe, including here in Los Angeles.

“We’re striking in line with demands centered on putting organized people-pressure on our elected officials to act now on climate crisis, to wake up people in this city, to address the climate crisis head-on and to end our dependence on oil,” Youth Strike L.A. stated in a public document.

According to Aaron, Youth Climate Strike L.A. intends to build power with broader social movements in Los Angeles, support other youth leaders to fight for climate adaptation and to mobilize L.A. to focus on climate action.

The group led four different teams to rally outside City Hall, L.A. County, the DWP and the headquarters of LAUSD.

L.A. youth and members of the climate strike group are calling upon local, state and federal governments, as well as LADWP and LAUSD, to declare a climate emergency and increase efforts to end oil drilling, plant more trees, greening schools, improving public transit and building affordable, climate-friendly housing.

According to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, this summer was Earth’s hottest since global records in 1880.

“Summer 2023’s record-setting temperatures aren’t just a set of numbers — they result in dire real-world consequences. From sweltering temperatures in Arizona and across the country to wildfires across Canada and extreme flooding in Europe and Asia, extreme weather is threatening lives and livelihoods around the world,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.

Gavin Schmidt, climate scientist and director of Goddard Institute of Space Studies added, “Climate change is happening.”

“Things that we said would come to pass are coming to pass,” Schmidt said in a statement. “And it will get worse if we continue to emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere.”