Pittsburgh’s Leandra Mira speaks for kids on the need for an Earth Day climate emergency declaration

Photo: Leandra Mira by Jared Wickerham for the Pittsburgh City Paper.

Note: Leandra Mira, 18, was inspired by Greta Thunberg to join Fridays for Future PGH in protest of climate issues. She began staging a quiet protest on the steps of the City-County Building last May. She was a fixture there, often joined by a cadre of fans and fellow activists including moms with kids, students and environmentalists, until the Covid-19 crisis hit. The Upper St. Clair resident was a speaker at P4 and the lead organizer of the Youth Climate Strike last September that brought more than 1,200 people Downtown to rally and march through the streets.

By Leandra Mira

NEXTpittsburgh guest writer

In December 2019, I joined a new and growing coalition of local organizations focused on declaring a climate emergency in SWPA. With an expanding petrochemical industry on our doorstep and environmental justice communities throughout our city and region facing toxic levels of air and water pollution, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day seemed like the right time to come together to take serious action and declare a climate emergency.

People in our communities are facing health harm from fracking wells in their backyards and near their schools. Massive increases in carbon and methane emissions in our region alone will make it nearly impossible for the world to reach Paris Climate Accord goals.

We have elected leaders who fail to hear the voices of people living in marginalized and environmental justice communities.  They also fail to hear what young people, like those of us on our Fridays for Future Pittsburgh team, have been crying out: All of us demand to be heard now, especially in this election year.

When a protest rally and march in Pittsburgh was no longer a viable option due to the coronavirus pandemic, our events shifted to a virtual Teach-In and Youth Climate Strike that will be live-streamed on several channels. These two events have been planned and staged by a Pittsburgh Earth Week 2020 Coalition of more than 50 regional organizations.

Unlike the original Earth Day, these events feature speakers discussing a wider span of community justice needs including students, African Americans, Native Americans, urban housing activists, food security groups, medical health professionals, people living in communities on the front lines and environmental activists.

Read the complete story and learn about the Earth Day Challenge, Teach-In and Pittsburgh Youth Climate Strike here.