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Tampa Bay area groups demand climate change action

Posted at 10:51 PM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-20 22:51:38-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The youth are joining climate strikes taking place across the world and across the Tampa Bay region Friday ahead of the UN Climate Summit next week.

Hundreds of people gathered in St. Petersburg for a rally and march, including kids and adults.

"I want to see less category 5 hurricanes, I want to see animals stop going extinct," said 11-year old Adriana Stem.

She marched alongside here family and others, as they called for climate action from political leaders.

"I want them to see we are the last genration, last group of people who can save our planet virtually," said Melissa Pielet, a student at Eckerd College.

She is studying environmental science and helped organize the event.

"The biggest thing is moving away from a carbon based economy, so we need to stop looking for oil and we need to just focus on renewable resources that will create more green jobs and we need to know it’s possible we just have to commit," she said.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman joined in the event, laying out local steps.

"While the climate debate may be over the climate emergency is well underway and make no mistake this is an emergency," Kriseman said. "My office is treating it as such and is exploring making a formal declaration of such, complementing are existing policies and executive orders related to sustainability and resiliency."

One tool in use in Pinellas County was created by the divison director of environmental management, Kelli Hammer Levy.

"I hope they're proud of the work we're doing here," she said.

The tool maps out the impact of sea of sea level rise and storm surge on projects, projecting decades ahead. Right now she said they're working to make it a web based feature.

"Any project that’s over a million dollars needs to have this done as part of the decision making process," said Hammer Levy.

She said a county wide vulnerability assessment is also underway.

"If another Irma was to come here and sea level was a foot higher what would that look like?" she said.

Some say the public sector has to create a level playing field when it comes to properties, though. ABC Action News talked with the Tampa Bay Builders Association earlier this year.

"We have to make improvements whenever we can, but we also have to do our part to make sure that the families that live in this country have safe and affordable housing," said Jennifer Motsinger, the association's executive vice president earlier this year.

Later Friday, more rallies took place in Sarasota and Tampa.

"It’s time to transition to 100-percent renewable energy and it’s time to listen to the youth and most importantly work together for their future," said USF student Maria Morales.

Young people in the Tampa Bay area making clear with their demand for climate action now.