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Minnesota fifth graders, dads head to Washington to lobby on climate change

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Federico Rossi, Leo Rapallini, Elena Rapallini and Aryanna Rossi
Federico Rossi (left) Leo Rapallini, Leo's daughter Elena and Federico's daughter Aryanna in Edina before their trip to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress to act on climate change.
Courtesy photo

Two Edina fifth graders have persuaded their fathers to drive them to Washington, D.C., this weekend in an electric car to raise awareness about climate change.

Elena Rapallini, Aryanna Rossi and their dads will attend a conference organized by Citizens' Climate Lobby, a group pushing Congress to enact a carbon fee and dividend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Elena said she hopes she can help influence climate policy.

"I would also like to go because I can get more comfortable to talking to crowds or important people," she said.

Both girls have been active in local groups seeking climate action. Aryanna said Congress needs to do more.

"I really hope our government makes a difference because this is a problem that is going to affect everything and the next generation," she said, adding that the wildfires last year in California especially moved her because her cousins had to leave their home.

The girls and their dads plan to post updates online about their trip.

Federico Rossi said he jumped at the opportunity to help his daughter try to influence policymakers.

"I share with her the deep sense of urgency and concern about what's going on with the environment, and I share with her the sense that we need to do something and we need to do it relatively fast," he said.

He and Elena's dad, Leo Rapallini, have been working on how to make the trip carbon-free. They'll drive Rapallini's Tesla and estimate they will need to stop and recharge every 250 to 300 miles.