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Vermont students demand climate action in Montpelier

A large group of students holding signs gather on the steps of the State House
Joia Putnoi
Vermont Public
Nearly 500 students from all over Vermont gather on the steps of the Statehouse in Montpelier for the Rally for the Planet on April 14, 2023.

Friday marked the 7th annual Rally For the Planet — an event which gathered students from all across Vermont to advocate for climate action. The event was hosted by Youth Lobby, a grassroots coalition of young Vermonters fighting for climate justice.

Students gathered at Montpelier High School this morning to begin their march to the Statehouse to demand urgent legislative solutions to climate change.

After the march, a panel of student speakers took turns addressing the crowd. Among the student speakers was Jenna Hirschman, a junior at Essex High School. Hirschman's speech called on legislators to care about the future generations of Vermonters.

"We are angry. Angry that our leaders don't care about us or our futures," Hirschman said. "So I’m asking them to hear this. Pass the Affordable Heat Act. Don't let your legacy be waiting until its too late to go back. Don't let your legacy be failing us."

The Affordable Heat Act bill would move the state’s cooling, heating and transportation systems away from fossil fuels. Vermont has a goal of significantly reducing its carbon emissions by 2030.

More from Vermont Public: Vermont isn't on track to meet its climate commitments, new analysis shows

As part of the day's agenda, students broke out into small group discussions across the Statehouse lawn to discuss what climate action means to them.

Six performers stand on steps of the Statehouse, holding a canvas sign that reads "courage"
Joia Putnoi
Vermont Public
Members from Bread and Puppet Theater perform a short political piece on the steps of the Statehouse on April 14, 2023.

Olivia Padulo, an eighth grader at Lamoille Union Middle School, said that showing up was her way of taking action for climate justice.

"Just speaking up, I think it's just really to encourage people to make change and start a club or simple things like recycling and thrifting and being aware of what you're consuming," Padulo said.

Padulo says that she is one of 11 students from her middle school that showed up today. While she is grateful that her science teacher let her know about the event, she wishes the information had been more widely spread throughout the community.

For the rest of the afternoon, students were encouraged to connect with local environmental justice organizations, work on art projects, and enjoy a performance by Bread and Puppet Theater.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Joia Putnoi worked as a Newsroom Intern from 2022 - 2023.
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