Poly Students Take Clean Energy Fight to City Council

In mid-January, several Poly students requested a meeting with Poly’s Environmental Sustainability Manager, Laura Fleming. They wanted to know what they could do to help decarbonize Poly’s campus and even encourage the City of Pasadena to take more urgent action on climate change. The timing was right. The following Monday, Pasadena’s City Council was preparing to vote on a resolution declaring a climate emergency and setting a goal of sourcing 100% clean electrical power by 2030. Four Poly students leaped at the chance to speak in favor of the Resolution at the January 30 City Council meeting. Seventeen Middle School Sustainability Club members also wrote “public comment” letters to the Mayor and City Council.

Pasadena still generates more than half of its electricity from burning coal and gas and the target for 100% clean electricity had been 2045, a target that students believed was too distant and didn’t reflect the urgent action necessary to impact the climate crisis. Students asked the City Council to accelerate the target and to stop burning fossil fuels by 2030.

Alice W. ’23 shared how decisions are being made that affect youth, but youth aren't “at the table.” “While we are not the decision-makers, we are the ones who will bear the decisions made,” she said.

Amelia R. ’24 shared, “No matter how looming the threat is, we have to continue to act to maintain hope. And by not acting to have renewable energy by 2030, we are just going to continue to foster a climate that is not proactive and instead is feeding into the anxieties and fears of students today.”
Aria W. ’23 said, “The longer you {City leaders} wait, the longer we will have to clean up.”
And Audrey M. ’27 stated, “Good climate policy can be good economic policy.”

After the students and a few Pasadena residents spoke, the Pasadena City Council voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency and set a policy goal to source 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030.

Click here for the full video of our students’ comments at the city council meeting.