Otay Ranch High School students with a banner they created for their event (Photo: San Diego 350)

On Friday September 20th, millions of people around the world are participating in the Global Climate Strike led by youth activist Greta Thunberg. In the San Diego region over 20 local high schools and colleges, as well as some middle schools, elementary schools and local businesses, are holding walk-outs, rallies, sit-ins, or other events as they join the global strike to demand immediate climate action.

Collectively, today’s strike is the largest climate demonstration ever conducted by students in San Diego. Thousands of students and their supporters will be participating across the County. These local actions are part of over 1,000 climate strike events planned across the US, and over 5,000 in more than 130 countries around the world. Together these events will likely be the largest mobilization for climate action in history.

The Climate Walkout San Diego website includes a map of all registered local events, as well as resources for student organizers. Some of the local events that are open for public participation include:

  • San Diego High School walkout (begins 12:15pm) and includes a march to San Diego City Hall, where participants will rally along with students from other schools.
  • Mission Bay High School walkout at noon, teaming up with a ReWild the Bay event
  • San Diego State University rally and march (begins at 11:30am at Hepner Hall)
  • University of San Diego rally and march (begins at noon at Colachis Lawn).

More details on these and other strike actions can be found on this list of events open to the public. Students at a few additional local schools, including UCSD, are planning actions over the next week.

All the local school walkouts were planned and organized by students. Some have received support from local volunteers, including a broad coalition of community organizations led by SanDiego350. Last week, the San Diego Unified School Board unanimously passed this resolution supporting the climate walkouts and giving District Principals guidance to support student organizers. The Sweetwater Union High School Board also adopted a similar resolution.

Speaking at a rally held before the SDUSD Board meeting where the resolution was adopted, Elea Castiglione, a sophomore at San Diego High School and one of the organizers of the school’s climate walkout, said: “As a young person growing up in this era, I think it’s important that my voice and the voices of my peers are not only heard, but lifted up. I hope that as a result of the upcoming walkouts, youth will feel empowered to use their voices and inspired to fight for change.”

Another student organizer, Vanessa Cascante, a senior at Mission Bay High School, said: “I am speaking as a representative of my generation who feels it is my civic duty to address the climate crisis as what it should be – our first priority.”

Annie Do, a sophomore student organizer at Serra High School, also published this powerful opinion piece which said she was inspired listening to Greta Thunberg and seeing “a girl my age become an icon who stands up to world leaders and governments.” Earlier this week during invited remarks made to a joint committee of the US House of Representatives, Thunberg herself told the assembled lawmakers “I don’t want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to the scientists. I want you to unite behind the science and I want you to take real action.”

A few local politicians have encouraged students to take a stand for the environment, including Olga Diaz, candidate for County Supervisor, District Three.

More than 2,000 scientists have also signed a letter in support of today’s climate strikes.

The Global Climate Strike begins a week of actions timed to draw attention to the UN Global Climate Action Summit starting next Monday in New York City.

In advance of today’s actions, a U.S. umbrella group, the Youth Climate Strike Coalition, has issued a set of policy demands that among other things calls for a just transition to 100% renewables by 2030, a halt to all leasing and permitting for fossil fuel extraction, and protections for frontline communities, indigenous people, and biodiversity through transformative and decisive climate action.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is convening the UN Climate Action Summit in order to accelerate efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. He has encouraged leaders from government, business and civil society to come prepared with bold plans to address the global climate emergency. Summit organizers note that while there is still time to tackle climate change, it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society. The youth participating in today’s Global Climate Strike are demanding that we rise to meet this challenge.

 

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