Student Leaders Organize Protest to Draw Attention to Climate Change

Katia Stutz, Managing Editor

Pali’s Human Rights Watch Student Task Force (STF) held a climate change protest  in the Pacific Palisades as part of the Global Climate Strike on Friday, Sept. 23.

STF’s protest builds off of Greta Thunberg’s movement that began with her school strike against climate change in Sweden in August of 2018. Since then, the annual Global Climate Strike boasts over a million protestors, including students, in 125 different countries. 

Organized by junior and Co-Vice President of STF Clementine Causse, the protest was held from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Palisades Village.

“I am striking for a multitude of reasons,” she said. “Change needs to happen now, and it isn’t. Our political leaders are letting us down.”

Students raised their voices above the sound of background music, chanting as they walked on the sidewalks and displayed signs that said “Fighting For Our Future,” “Our Home is Burning” and “UR Mom is on Fire.” Cars passing by honked in solidarity with the protesters. 

Junior Carter Yean, a member of STF, made a speech explaining the importance of the protest. 

“We are not just here for ourselves,” Yean said. “We are here for the future generations. Our children, our grandchildren. We are here for the thousands that have already died from climate change, and we are here for the millions that will continue to do so if we do not take action.”

Environmental Science teacher Steve Engelmann, who assisted in organizing the protest, said that he contacted the campaigns of both Rick Caruso and his opponent, Karen Bass. Both groups said they were unavailable, but wished the students luck for their strike.

However, near the end of the protest, former Los Angeles mayoral candidate Caruso arrived after several students encouraged him to join.

During the strike, several students saw Caruso walking in front of his Palisades Village establishment, and urged him to speak at the protest. 

Engelmann said that he felt surprise and excitement when Caruso appeared. 

During his visit, Caruso answered questions from protesters regarding his position on ideas regarding how to best address the climate crisis. He mentioned several of his initiatives to address climate change in Los Angeles, including recycling water, changing power plants to hydrogen and planting more trees. When asked if his development could be powered exclusively by solar energy, Caruso said he “can’t get 100 percent” solar energy.

Engelmann disagrees with Caruso’s comment on solar energy because the plans for solar panels at Pali show otherwise. STF previously staged a forum in which LAUSD School Board Member Nick Melvoin discussed a proposal to have the school transition to 100 percent solar energy. “We can make all of the electricity that the high school needs and then have extra to go put out on the grid,” Engelmann said.

“It felt like [Caruso] was just trying to say what was going to make us happy,” Causse said.

Yean, among other activists, said that the movement is far from over. 

“We are here to fight for our future,” Yean said in the conclusion of his speech. “We are here to say that we will not take it lying down. We will not go quietly into the night. We will fight, and we will win against climate change.”