Mar 3, 2023 - News

Miami kids eager to tackle climate change

A group of teens wearing pink t-shirts poses in front of wooden school bleachers.

Young people at last year's Miami Youth Climate Summit, with Mayor Daniela Levine Cava (front left, in black). Photo: Courtesy of the Miami Youth Climate Summit

At the forefront of the climate crisis, Miami is hosting three conferences in the coming days to discuss possible solutions, and two of them will focus on how young people are being affected and what they might be able to do.

What they’re saying: “As young people, it feels as though we are being handed this problem, one that has been piling up for longer than we can imagine, and asked to reverse it in 20-30 years,” Ransom Everglades School tenth-grader Mia Bouyoucef tells Axios.

  • "There is a sense of powerlessness, like no matter how much you as an individual do, there won’t be a larger impact," she said.

What’s happening: Bouyoucef is co-president of Miami Youth Climate Summit, which is holding a conference this Sunday at the Ransom Everglades Middle School campus to push for climate action.

  • And tomorrow through Monday, the Future Leaders Climate Summit will bring together 250 researchers, activists and civil servants between ages 18 and 30.
  • Next week, Monday through Thursday, it will be the turn of the Aspen Ideas: Climate conference, featuring speakers like Vice President Kamala Harris, pop star Gloria Estefan and scientist Bill Nye.

Context: A 2021 study published in The Lancet surveyed 10,000 people ages 16–25 years in ten countries, and found that 59% were very or extremely worried about climate change, and 84% were at least moderately worried

  • More than 45% of respondents said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning.
  • "Climate anxiety and distress were correlated with perceived inadequate government response and associated feelings of betrayal," the study found.

Details: Sunday's event will include a slate of speakers, workshops and an art contest. Youth climate activist Will Charouhis, a Ransom Everglades student who founded the nonprofit Forces of Nature, will give a keynote speech.

  • Charouhis has outlined solutions to climate change: no new fossil fuel projects anywhere, no continued deforestation anywhere and a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

What's next: Isabella Perez-Compres, a tenth-grader at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart and co-president of the Miami Youth Climate Summit, tells Axios, "I believe that if current politicians are replaced with people from my generation that more change would occur."

  • Bouyoucef said she's optimistic her generation will make progress, since today's youth are motivated and tech-savvy. "By cultivating this interest so early on, I am confident that we are supporting the next big innovators," she said.

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