Students Think Globally, And Will Protest Locally on Friday

Pasadena students, led by Sequoyah School leaders, intend to hold climate strike at City Hall Friday

Published : Thursday, December 5, 2019 | 6:07 AM

Sign at an earlier climate stroke. Photo courtesy Ozzy Simpson, Editor in Chief, The Barefoot Times, the Sequoyah School Newspaper

Putting a local face on a world-wide issue, Pasadena students will participate Friday morning in a climate strike at City Hall. The event is scheduled to coincide with the UN’s annual climate conference being held this weekend in Madrid, Spain.

Led by a student committee from Sequoyah School, protesters will be demanding that Pasadena City Councilmembers support a local Green New Deal. The protestors will also demand that Councilmembers pledge not to accept campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies or executives.

In addition, strikers are demanding respect for indigenous lands, environmental justice, protection of biodiversity, as well as sustainable agriculture.

“One of the main goals,” said lead organizer Ozzy Simpson, a student at Sequoyah School, “is to have there be real climate action by governments and not just saying, ‘We’ve got this plan, we’re going to curb emissions,’ that aren’t very specific and don’t actually have any specific things that they can be held accountable for, or to.”

Simpson added that another goal of the protest is to get “regular people” into the issues, and “pushing governments to take action, especially with the 11 or 12 years that scientists say we have left until (climate change damage) becomes irreversible.”

Pasadena does have a climate action plan, said Simpson, but added that “it’s basically just California’s plan with a few more milestones.”

As Simpson explained, “It actually never calls for 100% renewable energy, which is one of the biggest issues with it. That’s one of the main things that we’re pushing forward with this strike.”

Simpson also said that a related goal is for the Pasadena City Council to “really understand that for us to trust them, they can’t accept money from the fossil fuel industry and they have to be publicly supporting, and legislatively supporting, action on climate change.”

Councilmember Victor Gordo, currently a candidate for Mayor, responded to the event Wednesday, saying that, while supportive, he would “challenge” the protestors to concentrate on more local issues.

Said Gordo, “I would challenge them to look at Pasadena’s environmental issues such as the Hahamongna “Bog Dig,” and the future of the Arroyo, and the impact of overdevelopment and traffic right here in our city. Let’s put the energy behind these local and important issues that very directly affect us in our backyard.”

Gordo also noted the important role that Pasadena plays in the world’s technology and science, lending more importance to the climate change issue.

“I think it’s important,” he said, “for Pasadena to do its part and raise in the public’s consciousness, the importance of our local environment as well as the environment in general. Pasadena is a leader in so many issues, and Pasadena is looked to by so many in the state and the country, and possibly the world. So we should always have our voices heard.”

For his part, Councilmember John Kennedy, was ebullient in his praise for the young protesters.

It’s fantastic,” Kennedy said Wednesday.

“Whether they’re elementary school students,” said Kennedy, “junior high school students, or high school students or college students, they would be engaged in their own destiny and planning a better present and a better future for not only themselves, but their neighbors, friends and our nation, if not the world.”

Kennedy called the efforts “insightful,” and concluded, “I applaud their efforts led by the young people at Sequoyah school. I think they’re onto something that’s important that could light a fire for other students across this nation to get engaged, and help adults do what is right for the environment. I just applaud their ingenuity, their insight, and their intellect.”

Echoing Kennedy’s sentiments, Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton was supportive of the effort Wednesday, and said, “It’s exciting to see young people get involved and to let us know what their opinions are, because their opinions really matter.”

Hampton continued, “I would like to tell those young people that are doing this, that I applaud their effort, and I want to see them continue to do more things, because their voice actually really does matter, and they are being heard. And I just want them to know that at least for one councilmember, I am listening. I’m listening very closely.”

District 2 candidate Felicia Williams also weighed in on the effort, recalling an old English tale.

“It’s this British story,” said Williams, “that there was a really big fire out there, but each one of us only has a teaspoon. If one person goes there with a teaspoon with water, it doesn’t help. But if everybody does it, it absolutely helps. And that’s what I think is really getting a movement going, you can get to that critical mass where people can really do things en masse that you actually can make a difference.”

For Williams, the idea of renewable energy is key to the City’s future.

According to her, the City currently uses about 40 renewable energy, with a new California law requiring 100%.

But, notes Williams, Pasadena, along with a number of other local cities paid to have a coal power plant built in Utah, and the City now receives 60% of its energy from there.

“But,” according to Williams, “if you look at it on the whole, that energy is really, really cheap. And that’s what’s been keeping our bills low. So there are some people that are pushing to get to a hundred percent renewables by 2030. You’re probably going to see that on Friday.”

Williams is concerned, however, that once the City becomes 100 percent renewable, the costs might be out of reach for some residents.

“We already have a challenge keeping people living here because our living expenses are so high. That would really be a burden for low-income households. I did not push to go to 100% renewable faster because I was very concerned about the low-income families in our city that would have trouble being able to pay their bills.”

blog comments powered by Disqus