Youth climate activists successfully moved Miami Beach to declare a climate emergency this week, the Miami Herald reported.
Youth climate activists held a protest for local leaders to take action on climate change last month. Some of the advocates handed city Chief Resilience Officer Susy Torriente a resolution declaring a climate emergency, the Miami Herald reported. Torriente gave it to the mayor’s office, and it was introduced and passed unanimously Wednesday.
“It’s not just us holding up signs now. There’s literally legislation that says we need to put this at the top of the agenda,” said John Paul Mejia, a 17-year-old Miami Beach Senior High School student and member of multiple Miami-area climate action groups.
Torriente praised the students for getting involved and advocating on climate change issues.
“It’s a testament to how being active and being engaged and being part of the conversation makes governments change,” Torriente told the Miami Herald. “I just think it’s a testament to the movement, the young organizers.”
The resolution itself calls for Miami Beach to urge the state of Florida and the U.S. government to begin an “emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate.” After its passage, copies of the resolution will be sent to the House of Representatives, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Florida Sens. Marco Rubio (R) and Scott Walker (R) and all U.S. representatives from Florida. It will also be sent to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R) and the commissioners in addition to every city and town in the country.
The resolution does not make reference to a specific policy to combat climate change.
“This is more of a first step and gives us a lot of leverage,” said Mejia, who is a member of Miami-based climate action group CLEO. “We need to shift the narrative to understand this as a crisis because that’s what it really is.”
Following the resolution’s success, activists from CLEO, Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future and 350, which are all climate groups, hope to attend more city meetings to encourage Miami Beach to lower carbon emissions. The city has focused on raising roads and installing pumps, the Miami Herald reported.
“Miami Beach is very responsive when it comes to adaptation, which is a necessity,” Mejia said. “What we need to focus on right now is mitigation.”
The Miami chapter of Extinction Rebellion said it plans to hold Miami Beach to zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The group’s local leader, Nicholas Vazquez, 22, said the group is calling for a “wartime mobilization” effort to reduce emissions in the U.S.
“It is important for this resolution to be tied to a much larger push, to start a whole climate emergency response. It is now time for the City of Miami Beach to develop and implement mobilization policy. And what we would like to see is this resolution be taken seriously and for the City to actually commit to reducing its emissions at emergency speed,” he told the Miami Herald.
Miami is one of more than 1,100 jurisdictions in 20 counties that have declared a climate emergency around the world, the Miami Herald reported.