By Deanna Alderson, Climate Writer
On September 23rd, over 3,000 young activists from across San Diego County joined the Global Youth Climate Strike to demand meaningful action on climate change. Hundreds of students rallied downtown before marching through the streets of San Diego, while others made their voices heard at a strike in Chula Vista. Students also held walkouts at their high schools, with over 20 schools participating in this day of direct action.
Though the activists were brimming with youthful enthusiasm, their message was serious and urgent: President Biden needs to declare a climate emergency now and Governor Newsom must stop issuing oil drilling permits immediately.
After decades of major effort, we have a setback bill (SB 1137), Governor Newsom’s “Climate Package” represents the most significant action on ending fossil fuel extraction by the California Legislature in many years, but SanDiego350’s Youth4Climate Program Coordinator Megan Phelps said the timeline simply “wasn’t fast enough.” She called on the governor to “end oil extraction throughout California now and transition to renewables as fast as possible.”
Activists staged an oil spill and die-in at the San Diego strike, highlighting the destruction that the fossil fuel industry continues to have on people and the environment. Over 500 students signed SD350’s petition asking Biden to halt fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency. (Click here to add your name too.)
The strike followed months of extreme weather around the world, and young activists shared their frustration about the unhealthy state of the planet. Carrying signs that declared “We don’t want to inherit a damaged world!” and “Protect our water, climate and health,” they are trying to compel government officials to act.
“I hope the strike shows the power of youth voices in the climate movement,” said Youth4Climate activist and SD350 board member Keala Minna-Choe. “By striking on Friday, we showed local and global leaders that young people are determined to preserve our future. The powerful imagery of the oil spill demonstrates the need for urgent, bold climate action.”
Check out this video to hear why young activists joined the strike.
The students directed much of their anger at oil companies, which continue to rake in massive profits at the expense of our planet. Chanting “People, not profits!” and “Solution not pollution!” as they marched, it’s clear that this new generation of climate activists are ready to do away with the status quo. Shell Oil reported $11.5 billion in earnings just in the second quarter of this year—we need immediate government action if this is ever going to change.
The strike was organized by SD350’s Youth4Climate program in collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers, Democratic Socialists of America San Diego, and environmental groups from local schools. They joined millions of students around the world as part of a Global Day of Climate Action established by Fridays for Future, the youth-led movement that began in 2018 when Greta Thunberg sat outside the Swedish parliament demanding climate action. Fridays for Futures has been urging governments to develop—and stick to—policies that would keep global temperature rise under 1.5o C.