Chicago High School Students Rally for Climate Action

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For Immediate Release
Release Date: 5/28/2015

David Jakubiak | Environmental Law & Policy Center | 312.795.3713 |
Page May | Alliance for Climate Education| 312.618.5229 |

CHICAGO – Citing an opportunity to redevelop their communities with good jobs, cleaner air and economic stability, more than 100 Chicago high school students rallied at the James R. Thompson Center Plaza on Thursday to call for strong climate action from the State of Illinois.

“Climate change is the most important issue facing our society today and we will be the generation to win this fight,” said Quincy Hirt of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. 

In his recent inaugural address, Mayor Emanuel called for bringing more opportunity to Chicago’s youth. Andrea Martinez of Lindblom Math and Science Academy, one of the students at Thursday’s rally, said modernizing Chicago’s energy and transportation sectors to make them more reliable and less polluting will create such opportunities.

“My goal is to bring high-efficiency, low-cost solar energy to low-income communities, creating jobs and bringing affordable power to the families who need it most,” Martinez said.

The student’s rally comes as the local and national discussion on climate change intensifies. State legislators recently announced that this fall they will take up major energy legislation to determine how we will power our future. The students support the proposed Illinois Clean Jobs Bill which will advance renewable energy and energy efficiency. Additionally, this summer the federal government is expected to finalize its Clean Power Plan which will require states to slash carbon pollution from power plants.

This, combined with increasing evidence that climate change is already impacting communities across the planet, is cementing a youth climate movement across the nation. Similar youth rallies are expected in the coming weeks in cities including Boston, Las Vegas and New York.

“Student leaders have rallied for climate action across the country in the last few weeks and we’ll see an upwell of youth-led mobilizations throughout the summer,” said Leah Qusba, Communications Director with the Alliance for Climate Education. “Next week in Raleigh, youth will meet with their state senators to urge them to accept and act on the overwhelming scientific evidence of man-made climate change as the Outer Banks battles sea-level rise. At the same time, youth in Boston will converge on the State House to demand that their leaders make Massachusetts the first state to divest its pension funds from fossil fuels. Youth are demanding a better future and these leaders in Chicago know they have the support of thousands of their peers across the nation.”

The students in Thursday’s rally came from high schools including Kenwood Academy, Lake View High School, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Marine Leadership Academy, Northside College Prep, and Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. They have spent the last six months learning about Illinois politics, climate legislation and the benefits of clean jobs through a fellowship with the Alliance for Climate Education in partnership with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. 

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.