Minnesota teens urge climate action at Legislature

Teens attending the Youth Climate Strike rally hold signs.
Teens attending the Youth Climate Strike rally hold signs as they listen to speakers outside the State Capitol on Friday.
Elizabeth Dunbar | MPR News

Minnesota teenagers concerned about climate change rallied outside the State Capitol on Friday to urge lawmakers to take action on the issue this year.

The main climate bill pending in the Legislature would require all electricity produced in the state to be carbon-free by 2050. But Gov. Tim Walz and the DFL-controlled House must persuade the Republican-controlled Senate to support the bill with just two weeks left in the legislative session.

"Climate change is such a nonpartisan issue; it's entirely based on science, it's entirely based on facts. The fact that we have to turn this into a partisan issue in order to gain party support is really frustrating," said Mia DiLorenzo, a freshman at Edina who co-organized the Youth Climate Strike event on Friday.

Senate Republicans have said their energy priorities are lifting Minnesota's ban on new nuclear power plants and paring back a community solar garden program they argue is too expensive.

A conference committee of senators and House members will meet Monday to start working on a compromise.

More than 100 teenagers attended Friday's rally, which included appearances by several DFL House members. It's not the first time Minnesota teenagers have skipped school this year for climate change — another strike took place in March and coincided with other events around the world.

Rep. Jamie Long speaks at a Youth Climate Strike rally.
Rep. Jamie Long (right), DFL-Minneapolis, speaks at a Youth Climate Strike rally outside the State Capitol in St. Paul on Friday as Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL-New Brighton, and Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, look on.
Elizabeth Dunbar | MPR News

Juwaria Jama, a freshman at Spring Lake Park High School, co-organized Friday's event and said most of the teens' parents agree speaking out about climate change is worth missing a day of school.

"It goes into mentioning how important climate strike is and how we are the forefront generation that is going to be affected" by climate change, Jama said. "Our parents understand where we are coming from. We are stronger in numbers and we want to make sure we are heard."

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