‘Now or never’: San Diego students demonstrate for climate action for third year

On Friday, students and other San Diego-area activists marched through the county as they renewed their call for bolder and faster government action to end the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and slow down the rate of climate change.

Students from at least 15 high schools and colleges staged walkouts or protests, including UC San Diego, San Diego High, Westview High and Southwestern College, organizers said.

About 80 people marched through downtown Waterfront Park to City Hall, chanting mantras like ‘Stop denying the Earth is dying’ and holding signs like ‘Solution not pollution’ and ‘There hotter than my imaginary boyfriend”. Students also staged protests in downtown Chula Vista and on school campuses.

On Friday, high school students demonstrate at the Civic Center Plaza.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego students have held these climate protests every year since 2019, when millions around the world marched for climate action after inspiration from Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg. San Diego students staged an online protest in 2020 over COVID-19.

“With climate change itself, we’ve obviously seen it getting worse over the past few years, and (we) are seeing scorching heat and worsening hurricanes,” said Theo Martien, a senior at Mount San Diego Unified’s Everest Academy and a volunteer with Youth 4 Climate San Diego who helped organize Friday’s protests. “People are going to have to face the truth because it’s happening now, and so these strikes are even more important because now is kind of now or never.”

Local student leaders affiliated with 350, an organization that advocates globally for an end to the production and consumption of fossil fuels, organized Friday’s protests with help from members of the local American Federation of Teachers, Democratic Socialists of America and student-run school environmental clubs.

San Diego students have three requests, Theo said.

First, they want President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency and use his executive powers to ban crude oil exports, oil drilling and the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure projects. They want state and federal governments to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. And they want Governor Gavin Newsom to stop issuing oil drilling permits and phase out all oil extraction.

Newsom has promised to do these things – just in the next few decades.

Newsom said he is implementing plans to stop issuing new fracking permits by 2024, end the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 and phase out oil production by 2045 He also helped pass $15 billion last year for climate and environmental protection, including wildfire prevention, drought prevention and more.

Local student activists said they believe California has made notable progress on climate issues since they staged their first large-scale protests three years ago, but more needs to be done.

“If we don’t act fast enough — and we’re not acting fast enough right now — it will destroy our future,” said Keala Minna-Choe, a junior at Canyon Crest Academy and a board member at San Francisco. Diego 350.

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