High Schoolers Push for Strong California Climate Leadership

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For Immediate Release
Release Date: 5/28/2015
Contact: Leah Qusba | 262.880.8661 | leah@acespace.org

A group of high school students from across California will visit their state legislators today to show their concern about climate change and to support the multi-bill climate change package from Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León. The package includes SB 350, which calls for a 50% reduction in petroleum use by cars as well as for 50% of the state’s utilities’ power to come from renewable sources by 2030. Also included in the package is SB 32, which would expand on California’s landmark climate change bill AB 32 by requiring California to reduce its emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The students hail from Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Salinas. Many of them are Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) Action Fellows: students participating in a yearlong program that trains high school students to become climate leaders. They will be speaking to their elected officials about the impact that climate change has already had on their lives, as well as the impact climate change could have on their future.

Maxine Jimenez, a 17-year-old from Los Angeles, says “I’ve lived in Highland Park [Los Angeles] most of my life, and every year there has been a heat wave. And we’re in a serious drought. The air quality is also really bad, and I feel like that isn’t fair. Climate change is lowering my quality of life, all because we don't have strict enough policies in place to limit carbon emissions. It’s become an uncomfortable place to live, especially since Highland Park is a low income community. We're more at risk. If our leaders don’t do anything about these issues, air quality will get worse, and it’s not fair."

She goes on to say, “As an athlete, I run and work out a lot. Because of the bad air quality and heat waves, I’m more at risk of lung diseases. On top that, it’s getting hotter. A friend of mine recently passed out during a heat wave at a track meet. My shoes even began to melt on the asphalt. I want my leaders to take steps to strengthen CA's climate policy and protect my future, making sure we pass important bills like SB 32 and SB 350."

Matt Lappé, ACE Executive Director, says, "As a native Californian, I'm proud that my home state has paved the way for other states and nations to take climate action. We're a world leader in climate and energy solutions. It's crucial that we continue to demonstrate that leadership by reducing emissions while growing California's economy at the same time. California's leadership will undoubtedly inspire action in other states and around the world."

He goes onto to say, "As a father, I'm worried now more than ever about the future that the next generation will inherit. The student leaders from around California that are meeting with their elected leaders in Sacramento today are an inspiration to me. Young people have the most to lose when it come to climate change, but also the most to gain by solving it. These youth have a bright future ahead of them if their leaders will listen and make choices that support a clean energy future."

These students aren’t the only ones taking their concerns to their elected officials. We’ve already seen ACE Action Fellows from across the country visit their senators in Washington to lobby for climate action. ACE Fellows from Nevada even took time out of their spring break to visit their state senators in Carson City to lobby in support of Nevada’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standards. These high school students recognize that they will be the generation most impacted by the consequences of climate change and they are taking it upon themselves to do something about it.


What: High school students lobbying California State Assembly Members to support SB 32 and SB 350
Where: California State Capitol, Sacramento
When: June 9, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Who: Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) Action Fellows and student leaders:

  • Wendy Ma - Senior - John F. Kennedy High School, Sacramento
  • William Wang - Junior - John F. Kennedy High School, Sacramento
  • Pearl Xie - Senior - John F. Kennedy High School, Sacramento
  • Valerie Santana - Senior - Dorsey High School, Los Angeles
  • Diego Zapata, Senior - Bravo Medical Magnet School, Los Angeles,
  • Maxine Jimenez - Senior - Franklin High School, Los Angeles
  • Spurgeon Wright - Junior - Gateway High school, San Francisco
  • Alex Castillo - Sophomore - Aptos High School, Aptos
  • Azucena Barrios - Senior - Everett Alvarez High School, Salinas
  • Yesica Garcia - Senior - Everett Alvarez High School, Salinas

More about ACE:

The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) recognizes that young people have the most to lose when it comes to climate change, and the most to gain by solving it. ACE educates high school students about climate change and inspires them to take action.

Since 2008, ACE has reached over 1.8 million students across America with its climate education program and inspired over 300,000 students to take action. ACE has also empowered thousands of new and diverse students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to be effective leaders. The program has been proven to work. In 2014, ACE students advocated for a New York City climate education mandate, pushed for school districts to cut carbon, and partnered with policy experts for lasting climate solutions.

ACE seeks to shift the landscape of climate engagement, which has traditionally excluded young people and communities of color – those that are most affected by climate consequences. 73% of ACE schools are public and 60% of students in its programs are youth of color.