Plant students call on Tampa to declare “Code Red” climate emergency


Ava Satterfield

On Friday, Sept. 24, students rallied in front of Tampa City Hall for Climate Day of Action. Around 150 people came to call on Tampa to declare a “Code Red” Climate Emergency. (Lina Chen)

Ava Satterfield, Cultures Editor

On Friday, Sept. 24, young people around the world rallied to fight for climate action.

The event, Global Day of Climate Action, drew thousands from Germany to Nigeria to right here in Tampa. Plant students showed up in force in front of Tampa City Hall. The group of about 150 were there to condemn government inaction.

“Code red 4 humanity,” read the sign of senior Caitlin Hagney. Hagney is a coordinator of Sunrise, an organization of Plant students interested in combating climate change. Sunrise helped arrange the local rally. 

“The purpose of the strike was to bring attention to a recent report issued by the UN which said that our world climate is in a “Code Red” and that we could warm 1.5°C in the next 20 years if we don’t act now,” Hagney said. “That amount of warming will wipe out tons of species and ecosystems and displace thousands if not millions of people as climate change and sea level rise begin to hit hard.” 

Strikers wore all red for the “Code Red” climate. They hope the strike will spark action from the Tampa government.

“As a part of our demands we asked that Tampa declare a Climate Emergency, which would help enact local policy to transition to clean energy and fight climate change locally,” Hagney said. “The strike was just our first step on the path to declaring an emergency, and if we keep putting pressure on local government by writing letters and getting press coverage, we believe we can reach our goal.” 

Hagney expressed her disappointment to people who know climate change is real but are more worried about the economic effects of acting on climate change.

“The real problem for me is the people who believe it [climate change] exists but refuse to encourage rapid and drastic action to stop warming because they think it will hurt us economically,” Hagney said. “Sure, that may happen, but if we don’t respond to climate change now, our economy will be toast anyway, along with everything else that makes up the world we know. We have an opportunity to control here and now how we save our earth, and a transition to clean energy can become an economic opportunity if we let it, with the thousands of possible green jobs.” 

Zoey Almquist-Hardin, a junior and member of Sunrise, attended the strike. She said everyone should act on climate change, but companies have a greater responsibility.

“Everyone should demand change from their representatives and understand that individual actions aren’t really to blame for climate change,” Almquist-Hardin said. “Fossil fuels companies are responsible for the majority of emissions and while reducing your impact on the environment is great, it won’t help as much as reducing the emissions of companies.”

Almquist-Hardin said she does not interact with people who do not recognize the gravity of climate change.

“Honestly, I don’t really engage with people who won’t acknowledge what’s happening. I think that with people like that, it’s not really a genuine lack of knowledge,” Almquist-Hardin said. “It’s a willful ignorance, and that can’t be changed by me.”