PASADENA, Calif. – High school students in Pasadena are hosting the city’s first ever youth-led climate action forum.

Local mayoral and city council candidates will have to answer students about what they plan to do to improve the environment.

“If we don’t act now, then when will we,” said Marshall High School freshman Estrella Barcenas.


The forum is completely planned by students. They have come to the table from different schools—some public, some private— all with the same mission of pushing city leaders to act locally to save the environment.

Barcenas is most concerned about rising temperatures. She and her twin sister used to live with their family in an apartment with no air conditioning.

“I remember countless summer nights that we would like sleep with the door open to make sure cool air came in because there wasn’t any AC and it was really hard for my little sister sleep because of the heat,” Barcenas said. “I’m so happy that we don’t live in that situation anymore but I can’t help but think of other low income families that don’t have air conditioning and it’s only getting worse for them.”

Climate change is personal to Selina Yang, too. The Sequoyah School senior immigrated to Pasadena five years ago from China because the air pollution in her hometown gave her a cough so bad she had to miss several days of school. She was feeling a lot better here, until recently.

“A year ago I have noticed my throat has become noticeably itchy again and I would sometimes cough the same way that I did when I was back in my hometown,” Yang said.

She wants more bike lanes, and free public transportation, to improve air quality.

But most of all, they all want to be heard.

“When the people who we want to listen to are gone, we’re going to be what’s left,” Barcenas said. “The youth are going to look up to us and if we didn’t make the right decisions and didn’t act out while we were the youth then there’s not going to be much hope for them.”

The 2020 Pasadena Climate Action Forum is Tuesday, February 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Robinson Recreation Center.