Dozens of Kirkland and Eastside residents congregated at Marina Park Pavilion with vibrant and oversized signs on the afternoon of Dec. 6. Onlookers and drivers shouted and honked in support while passing the park.
This was the second youth climate strike held in Kirkland.
Jolie Simone Barga, a freshman at Lake Washington High School, led the first youth climate strike at Houghton Beach Park in September.
She, along with three other local high school students, organized the second strike on Dec. 6.
Bellevue High School senior Pouya Souri, Overlake School junior Aya Sugai-Munson, and Bellevue High School senior Victoria Hsieh, were also lead organizers.
“We’re realizing that we’re running out of time,” Souri said. “It seems like there’s a lack of seriousness when talking about climate change. We need to inspire and encourage others to step up and take action.”
Students and youth from across Washington skipped school to strike for the climate. The last Kirkland climate strike hosted keynote speakers who shared their perspectives on climate change and its effects.
The second strike, however, went a slightly different route.
“It’s a little bit of a different atmosphere,” Barga said. “We’re meeting with the mayor, Penny Sweet, to move more for a direct action…show them what we want and how they can participate in the change.”
A group of about 50 people gathered at Kirkland’s Marina Park at 1:30 p.m. At around 2 p.m. the large group walked along Market Street with vibrant signs that read “The climate is changing. Why aren’t we?” “Be a world leader! Not a world polluter!” “Love your mother,” and “When leaders act like kids the kids become leaders.”
The organizers announced their demands for climate action. Their demands included stopping the Tacoma LNG pipe, declaring of a statewide climate emergency, becoming carbon neutral by 2025, honoring the treaties with indigenous nations with sovereign land within Washington by embodying environmental justice, denying all fossil fuel infrastructure and projects and ensuring all decisions made by the government are tied into scientific research.
Speaking with Sweet was a good step in the right direction, Barga said.
“We want to have council support,” she said. “And continue having future communications with the city.”
Sweet welcomed the protesters outside City Hall.
“While the city of Kirkland can’t control what happens at the state level, there is so much we can do locally to lower our collective carbon emissions,” she said. “Did you know that 25 percent of the power used in city-owned facilities, such as City Hall, comes from renewable resources?”
Sweet also said the city has reduced its operational greenhouse gasses by 50 percent from 2005.
“We’re 10 years ahead of schedule. It goes to show that if we put our minds to it, we can significantly impact our carbon emissions quicker and more effectively than we ever thought possible,” she said.
Councilmember Kelli Curtis provided additional updates about what the city is working on to address the climate crisis.
“We know that driving is one of the main things that cause greenhouse gasses. In 2017, we did a greenhouse gas emissions report,” she said. “After that report, we have been converting our vehicles that we use for city business to electric or hybrid vehicles. In 2020, we anticipate buying 12 more all-electric vehicles.”
She said the city has been working on its sustainability master plan as well.
Barga said she considered the second climate strike a success.
“It’s a start,” she said. “We’re putting a mark on what we’re doing.”
Barga, as well as other students throughout the state, will continue to strike until national action is shown.
To learn more about the youth climate strikes, visit www.youthclimatestrikeus.org.