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Climate activists take to Palo Alto streets to demand action from local politicians

Protest coincides with Global Climate Strike

Climate activists march at a Global Climate Strike rally in downtown Palo Alto on Sept. 23. Photo by Emily Margaretten.

With youth at the forefront, a group of 60 climate activists rallied in front of Palo Alto City Hall Friday evening, Sept. 23, to demand that the city's elected officials take urgent action to address the global climate crisis.

Fridays for Future Palo Alto, Sunrise Silicon Valley and the Palo Alto Student Climate Coalition organized the event as part of the Global Climate Strike, an annual event launched by Greta Thunberg.

Raging Grannies Action League perform butterfly dance at Global Climate Strike in front of City Hall on Sept. 23. Photo by Emily Margaretten.

The Raging Grannies Action League kicked off the rally with a butterfly dance.

"We don't want to leave this earth in a bad shape, but it's heading that way," said Ruth Robertson, 70, who dressed as a butterfly to emphasize the power of transformational change.

Collective political action was the theme of the night with speeches calling for council members to pass the city's Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S/CAP).

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"We're demanding that they actually pass the plan and start moving forward rather than just talking about it because we've been talking about it for a couple of years," said event organizer Matt Schlegel.

The S/CAP has a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2030. The city council plans to discuss S/CAP on Sept. 27 and vote on it on Oct. 3.

Sydney Ernest, 15, and Logan Leak, 24, from Sunrise Silicon Valley participate in Global Climate Strike on Sept. 23, 2022. Photo by Emily Margaretten.

Rally organizers also demanded that the city launch its heat pump water heater (HPWH) program to replace natural gas water heaters.

Youth activist Emilie Lespinasse, 17, discussed the importance of electric HPWHs to help Palo Alto reach a zero-carbon footprint. But she also said that the city needed to implement the program equitably so all residents could benefit from it.

"That’s why we’re here," Lespinasse said. "We're literally standing in front of City Hall to get their attention."

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Youth organizer Sanjana Sathishkumar, 17, raised a similar point.

"Climate justice is social justice," she said. "And we need to pressure our politicians to address it."

Two Stanford University students participate in Global Climate Strike at Palo Alto City Hall on Sept. 23, 2022. Photo by Emily Margaretten.

Heeding the call, Mayor Patrick Burt attended the rally.

"I think it's really important that we support and listen to our climate youth activists," he said. "We need to actually engage with them and listen to them and have them have a strong voice in our actions. We need them to push us to go even further."

When probed how this might occur, Burt referred to the S/CAP recommendations.

Sathishkumar meanwhile encouraged the audience to not give up hope or feel guilty about the climate crisis.

"The masses of people will not stand by while a few privileged portions of the population and corporate shareholders make our air unbreathable and our land unlivable. We will fight back," she said to enthusiastic applause.

Picking up placards and chanting slogans like, "No more coal, no more oil, keep our carbon in the soil," the crowd filed onto the streets in a protest march that looped through downtown Palo Alto. Cars honked in support while bystanders watched from the sidewalks.

"I can see that people are coming out to make noise and be seen for an important cause," said Loren Pallera, 41, who was out shopping with her 15-year-old daughter.

Jo Gardias, 21, speaks at Global Climate Strike in front of Palo Alto City Hall on Sept. 23, 2022. Photo by Emily Margaretten.

Jo Gardias, 21, a climate legislative aide, offered a message of hope to the crowd, saying that what climate activists were doing today resonated beyond the streets of Palo Alto.

"In California, we're uniquely positioned to where our personal local actions actually become models for other cities, for state policies and federal policies," she said. "So, what you're doing here, right now, it's so important that we're doing it precisely, accurately and quickly because we're showing that it can be done."

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Climate activists take to Palo Alto streets to demand action from local politicians

Protest coincides with Global Climate Strike

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, Sep 25, 2022, 6:57 pm

With youth at the forefront, a group of 60 climate activists rallied in front of Palo Alto City Hall Friday evening, Sept. 23, to demand that the city's elected officials take urgent action to address the global climate crisis.

Fridays for Future Palo Alto, Sunrise Silicon Valley and the Palo Alto Student Climate Coalition organized the event as part of the Global Climate Strike, an annual event launched by Greta Thunberg.

The Raging Grannies Action League kicked off the rally with a butterfly dance.

"We don't want to leave this earth in a bad shape, but it's heading that way," said Ruth Robertson, 70, who dressed as a butterfly to emphasize the power of transformational change.

Collective political action was the theme of the night with speeches calling for council members to pass the city's Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S/CAP).

"We're demanding that they actually pass the plan and start moving forward rather than just talking about it because we've been talking about it for a couple of years," said event organizer Matt Schlegel.

The S/CAP has a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2030. The city council plans to discuss S/CAP on Sept. 27 and vote on it on Oct. 3.

Rally organizers also demanded that the city launch its heat pump water heater (HPWH) program to replace natural gas water heaters.

Youth activist Emilie Lespinasse, 17, discussed the importance of electric HPWHs to help Palo Alto reach a zero-carbon footprint. But she also said that the city needed to implement the program equitably so all residents could benefit from it.

"That’s why we’re here," Lespinasse said. "We're literally standing in front of City Hall to get their attention."

Youth organizer Sanjana Sathishkumar, 17, raised a similar point.

"Climate justice is social justice," she said. "And we need to pressure our politicians to address it."

Heeding the call, Mayor Patrick Burt attended the rally.

"I think it's really important that we support and listen to our climate youth activists," he said. "We need to actually engage with them and listen to them and have them have a strong voice in our actions. We need them to push us to go even further."

When probed how this might occur, Burt referred to the S/CAP recommendations.

Sathishkumar meanwhile encouraged the audience to not give up hope or feel guilty about the climate crisis.

"The masses of people will not stand by while a few privileged portions of the population and corporate shareholders make our air unbreathable and our land unlivable. We will fight back," she said to enthusiastic applause.

Picking up placards and chanting slogans like, "No more coal, no more oil, keep our carbon in the soil," the crowd filed onto the streets in a protest march that looped through downtown Palo Alto. Cars honked in support while bystanders watched from the sidewalks.

"I can see that people are coming out to make noise and be seen for an important cause," said Loren Pallera, 41, who was out shopping with her 15-year-old daughter.

Jo Gardias, 21, a climate legislative aide, offered a message of hope to the crowd, saying that what climate activists were doing today resonated beyond the streets of Palo Alto.

"In California, we're uniquely positioned to where our personal local actions actually become models for other cities, for state policies and federal policies," she said. "So, what you're doing here, right now, it's so important that we're doing it precisely, accurately and quickly because we're showing that it can be done."

Comments

Lawrence Becker
Registered user
Stanford
on Sep 26, 2022 at 8:23 am
Lawrence Becker, Stanford
Registered user
on Sep 26, 2022 at 8:23 am

Unfortunately, even if humans succeed in slashing carbon emissions, the near-term changes (severe storms & intense droughts) are baked in.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2022 report stated that drought & extreme precipitation will intensify in the coming years.

To cope, countries must invest in early-warning systems & upgrade infrastructure to withstand water and massive flooding.


Mondoman
Registered user
Green Acres
on Sep 26, 2022 at 8:53 am
Mondoman, Green Acres
Registered user
on Sep 26, 2022 at 8:53 am

In related news, President Xi took note of the Palo Alto protest, promising to immediately cut China's growing greenhouse emissions by more than half to meet US levels. :)


Chris G Zaharias
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2022 at 11:55 am
Chris G Zaharias, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Sep 27, 2022 at 11:55 am

Have these activists ever felt what over-reliance on fossil-free energy feels like? No.

Are these activists aware that Silicon Valley was built on fossil fuels? Apparently not.

Do the activists realize anthropomorphic global warming is a hoax? Clearly no.

Have the young activists ever had a teacher tell them that climate varies naturally? Not in PA.

Do the activists care that lower and middle-income families of America are being pushed *down* the economic ladder by rising energy prices, or that those rising energy prices are a direct outcome of gov't meddling in the energy industry? Sorry, obvious answer to this question too.

Climate activists - I say to you loudly that you never had science or moral high ground to stand on.

If anthropogenic global warming were real and urgent, PA home values would not be what they are, as much of it is close to sea level.


Me 2
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2022 at 4:07 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Sep 27, 2022 at 4:07 pm

I wonder how many of these protesters drove/rode in a car to get to downtown Palo Alto?

Or how recent they flew a plane to a trip of some sort.

Change starts with your own behavior.


Harry Carter
Registered user
Mountain View
on Sep 28, 2022 at 7:22 am
Harry Carter, Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2022 at 7:22 am

"I wonder how many of these protesters drove/rode in a car to get to downtown Palo Alto?"

Good point...is carpooling in an EV acceptable?

"Have the young activists ever had a teacher tell them that climate varies naturally? Not in PA."

Another good point.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2022 at 8:09 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2022 at 8:09 am

I was about to ask the same as Me 2.

It would be better that they learned about how our food arrives on our plate from far flung places and the procedures it goes through beforehand. Did they have water bought in bottles with them? Did they wear clothes that were made overseas?

We are doing a bad job of educating our youth. Do they not know how clean our air is compared to say 25 years ago? Do they know that there was a time when people walked a couple of miles to get where they wanted to go and then the same couple of miles to get home? Do they ever use public transport when they want to go somewhere or do they drive a car or get a ride from parents who have to do the return trip as a solo driver?

Our young people are being taught what to think, but not how to think. We have to do better teaching them how to think these things through.


Meg Williams
Registered user
Stanford
on Sep 28, 2022 at 9:04 am
Meg Williams, Stanford
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2022 at 9:04 am

Climate change and global warming is also relative to increases in human population which involves the need for more manufactured goods which in turn requires more energy consumption.

The climate activists should also be protesting against further housing developments in Palo Alto and elsewhere.


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