Pittsburgh Youth Climate Action summit

Your teen is invited to the Pittsburgh Youth Climate Action Summit. Details here on this free event.

Photo above by Lucas Marconnet via Unsplash.

Students from across the region in grades 8-12 are invited to attend the Pittsburgh Youth Climate Action Summit at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on April 30th. This free event is happening in person this year after a virtual summit in 2020, and the convention center is the perfect location: It’s one of the “greenest” buildings in the entire city, with gold-level certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (better known as LEED). 

What is the Pittsburgh Youth Climate Action Summit? 

Youth Climate Summit Coordinator Lauren Palamara tells Pittsburgh this event is unique because students don’t have to have any previous experience with climate action to participate. “We seek to engage youth who are drawn to climate action and want to learn about how to begin to become involved with a growing network of youth climate leaders in the region,” she says. “Participants will leave feeling reinvigorated and prepared to bring tangible actions back to their communities.” The event is run by Communitopia, with partners including the Woodland Hills School District.  

Palamara expects more than 150 students this year, and she urges teachers to sign up to attend with their classes. (It’s not too late: You can let your child’s teacher know that space is still available.). Schools can also receive a $100 stipend to make the event possible for their students. 

But students don’t have to attend this free event with a teacher or school group. Many kids will go on their own or with friends or with a parent.

The keynote speaker for the summit this year is Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, who will share with students his goals for engaging with young people across the region, particularly as it relates to environmental justice. “As we were in the early stages of planning the event,” Palamara says, “we were brainstorming who has the ability to powerfully impact youth in the coming years as we fight the climate crisis. We couldn’t think of a better person than Mayor Gainey!”

The event is planned by teens, and many of the speakers throughout the day are young climate activists themselves. Smaller breakout sessions will allow for more individual instruction and conversation. The planning team is continuing to update the website as they add more speakers, so check for updates as the event date approaches. 

This year’s Pittsburgh Climate Action Summit will include a keynote speech by the mayor.

What is environmental justice?  

Does the Climate Summit interest you or your teen, but you aren’t exactly sure what environmental justice is all about? That’s OK, say the event coordinators. The summit is all about education, and students will leave with an action plan in hand that they can take back to their schools and communities. The best way to train and grow the next generation of climate activists is by giving them the space to learn and the resources to accomplish their goals. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, environmental justice is about ensuring that everyone has the same protections from environmental hazards, and including everyone in the decision-making process about environmental issues. Pittsburghers of all backgrounds live, work, and play here, so all of us should have a seat at the table when decisions about climate action are made. 

For many years in the Pittsburgh region, low-income communities and communities of color have been more likely to be exposed to toxins and air pollution, and less likely to be included in the conversation about how to fix these problems. That’s still the case today.

Students who attend the Pittsburgh Youth Climate Action Summit will become part of a new generation of climate action leaders who are seeking to change that. 

To register, please visit the Summit website. For teachers bringing a group of 10 or more students, please register using the “Teacher + Student Group – includes lunch + $100” option on the Eventbrite page. You will need each student’s information at the time of registration. Please contact Lauren Palamara with any questions. And click here for more info on Earth Day-related events in the Pittsburgh region.