“We want world leaders to hold polluters accountable,” Alexandria Villaseñor told the audience at the 10th annual Social Good Summit on Sept. 22, speaking on behalf of her fellow members of the Youth Climate Strike.
At 14 years old, Villaseñor is one of the youngest members of the global climate strike. She is the co-founder of US Youth Climate Strike and founder of Earth Uprising, a youth-led climate organization.
On Friday, Villaseñor attended the climate strike in New York City, but it wasn’t her first time. “I’ve been on climate strike every Friday for the past 41 weeks in front of the UN headquarters,” Villaseñor said on the Summit stage.
Villaseñor has been a climate activist ever since she was impacted by the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, California. “I saw the connection between California’s wildfires and climate change,” she said, speaking alongside Elizabeth Yeampierre, co-chair of Climate Justice Alliance and environmental activist, and Nandita Raghuram, Social Good editor at Mashable.
After the Camp Fire, Villaseñor was inspired by fellow youth activist Greta Thunberg to join the fight and demand action on climate change.
Villaseñor’s biggest goal is to see meaningful climate action taken by world leaders. For her, this means pollution reduction and consequences for the people who are actively polluting the planet.
As the youth climate movement gains speed, Villaseñor knows that students don’t have to bear the brunt of the fight. “Adults are able to amplify students’ messages,” she said, speaking about older generations. “What I would like to see from them is their help and their advocating for us.”
Villaseñor recognizes that the climate movement needs to be intersectional. “I do think that people of color need to be the ones leading this movement because they’re experiencing the effects,” said Villaseñor. Frontline communities are disproportionately made up of people of color, and Villaseñor wants to make sure that they’re not only educated on climate change but understand what they can do to combat it and welcomed to do so.
As more and more people around the world get involved in combating climate change, Villaseñor feels more optimistic about the future. “When OPEC call the [Fridays for Future] movement the number one threat to the oil industry, you really can see how the movement has created a difference,” she said.
As a student, participating in the fight against climate change allows Villaseñor to make a real difference. “I’m only 14, I can’t vote for four years,” she said. Until then, she plans to enact change in other ways.