“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.”

These are the words of Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish activist whom many have come to know as the face of the movement to address the climate crisis. In a speech at the September 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City, she called for politicians to take measures towards preventing world-wide disaster.

As we step into 2020 and look back at the previous decade, the implications of climate change has been evident, and the consequences are only mounting. Palo Alto student activists and other community members have stepped up efforts to combat these environmental issues.

Palo Alto High School senior Alexandra Lee is an intern at non-profit organization Menlo Spark, which collaborates with local government, businesses and residents to make the Bay Area more environmentally sustainable. Menlo Spark is currently spear- heading the Fossil Free Building campaign, which works with different cities to develop new reach codes, which go beyond preexisting state requirements in place to conserve resources and energy.

“I think there’s a lot to be done,” Lee said. “Turning off natural gas, moving our resources closer and closer to renewable energy, increasing incentives to walk or bike, and increasing and improving public transportation and incentives for electric vehicles.”

Zander Leong, a junior and Paly’s ECO Club president, is working to bring awareness of the climate crisis to students.


“I think there’s a lot to be done … Turning off natural gas, moving our resources closer and closer to renewable energy, increasing incentives to walk or bike, and increasing and improving public transportation and incentives for electric vehicles.”

– Alexandra Lee, senior


“Just bringing attention to the issue and providing solutions is important,” Leong said. “A specific goal [at Paly] is to improve our waste by sorting it better and reducing it overall.”

Locally, the City of Palo Alto has made a pledge to reduce the city’s environmental impact, according to the City of Palo Alto website.

“Palo Alto drafted its first Climate Action Plan in 2007, and then we updated it in 2016 and made it a Sustainability and Climate Action Plan,” Christine Luong, the City of Palo Alto sustainability manager, said. “In 2016, that’s when the Council adopted our ‘80 by 30’ goal.”

The “80 by 30” goal aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below the 1990 greenhouse gas baseline and to divert 95% of waste from landfills.

The sustainability department is approaching “80 by 30”with small, achievable goals that will collectively have a large impact.

“The four current issue areas — energy, mobility, electric vehicles and water — we’re still going to do,” Luong said.

What do you do to lower your impact on the environment?
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