Students plan climate summit on 'avenues for advocacy'

  • Meher Sethi, student at Waubonsie Valley High School

    Meher Sethi, student at Waubonsie Valley High School

Updated 4/23/2020 11:07 PM

Young people who want to get involved with climate activism can join a video summit planned by a group of high school students to learn from peers and pros about ways to make a difference.

The Youth Climate Summit is scheduled to take place via Zoom webinar from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday, moderator and Waubonsie Valley High School junior Meher Sethi said.


He and a team of five other students involved with the Illinois High School Democrats are planning the summit to help others their age learn to get involved in addressing an issue they see as critical.

"The main audience is any and all youth who are really interested in getting more involved in not only the climate sphere but in the political sphere overall," Meher said. "I think this is going to be really encouraging for all youth who are looking at community involvement in that light."

Speakers are set to include Bella Hubbard, a senior at Evanston Township High School and a leader in the Chicago chapter of the Climate Reality Project, an advocacy group founded by Al Gore, and Jeff Gahris, group executive chairman of the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter's River Prairie Group.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Sean Casten of the 6th District and Lauren Underwood of the 14th District will round out a panel scheduled to discuss solutions to global climate change, intersections between climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, and "avenues for advocacy" that allow teens to get involved, Meher said.

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Meher started his own climate advocacy through joining Underwood's youth advisory council and by trying to keep environmental issues in mind when acting as a responsible consumer. He's been involved for about the past two years, especially since a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2018 "came out saying we really have until 2030 until the climate effects are irreversible."

"That's when the revelation hit me that climate change is a capital-E existential issue that's going to affect all of us," Meher said. "And more than that, it's going to mainly affect my generation."

The group originally planned to host the summit in person but switched to a digital format to ensure it could go on despite the stay-at-home order. To attend the event, visit

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