Young Climate Leader Simon Aron is Creating Change
One young advocate is showing the world how local organizing can fight the climate crisis.
In the summer of 2021, 15-year-old Simon Aron co-led a protest outside of California Senator Dianne Feinstein's office that lasted three days straight. Simon and his peers from Los Angeles’ Sunrise Movement youth group toted protest signs, gave speeches, and led chants all day, then camped in front of the office at night. Local bands came to play and help make noise, politicians and community members brought everyone food – all coming together with one goal: to get Senator Feinstein support the creation of the Civilian Climate Corps.
“We got five or six different congresspeople to sign onto the Civilian Climate Corps, a bill that would advise the infrastructure package and bring tons of new jobs that would turn our society toward renewable energy,” Simon said.
After a few days of occupation, Feinstein signed a letter supporting the Civilian Climate Corps.
“It was absolutely wild,” Simon told Climate Reality. “Working with people my age to get something done… when we succeed, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Simon was first exposed to climate activism when they were in seventh grade. Their dad took them to a big climate protest in 2019, and Simon was struck by how many people their age were present, powerful, and making themselves heard.
“I remember seeing young people coming together and all these older people being so scared of them,” Simon said. “It feels so good to see young people have power like that.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down school at the end of Simon’s eighth grade year, he was left with huge amounts of spare time and restless energy. Simon decided to message The Climate Reality Project’s LA chapter and ask how to get involved. They reached out at just the right time — the chapter was beginning to build the Green Schools Campaign (GSC), an initiative that supports students all over the country to launch campaigns to transition their schools to renewable energy. Simon jumped right in and became one of the co-founders. Since then, Simon has taken their climate activism to the next level on a national and local scale, working with the GSC and Sunrise LA Youth to fight for a just transition to clean energy.
“The accomplishment I’m most proud of with the Green Schools Campaign is bringing new people into the movement, into the fight for a better world,” Simon continued. “We have some active campaigns right now in a bunch of schools, and we made a really helpful handbook that we still get positive feedback on all the time.”
For their first two years of high school, Simon completely threw themselves into organizing on a national level, fueled by the uplifting power that comes with youth organizing, but also by fear of the climate crisis and the systemic inequalities that are exacerbated by it.
“A lot of the things I’ve done involve changing the minds of politicians. I focused on national politics for a long time, trying to affect things on a national level,” Simon recalled. “It felt really powerful at the time, and we’ve had a lot of wins. We bossed around some of the most popular people in America.”
But like many young activists juggling high school and fighting the climate crisis, Simon began to experience serious burnout. It was hard to face that change was coming slowly within Simon’s community while he was out fighting for national change.
“When fire season comes around, I still might need to evacuate. The smoke is still probably going to shut down school.” Simon said.
But Simon still has hope, and enthusiasm abounds.
“In Sunrise, we say hope is a discipline. Hope isn’t something you can take for granted. It’s a tool, and it’s powerful.” Simon said.
Now entering 11th grade, Simon is rethinking what gives him hope, and what he can give his energy to as a young person with a passion for climate activism. Now, Simon is dedicated to local organizing. Amid a frank conversation about burnout, Simon brightens to talk about the direct change he has made in his community.
Recently, Simon started an organization supporting a preferred candidate for city council. High school students on the westside of LA meet up and canvas together, and Simon feels like they’re making a real impact.
“We chose Erin,” Simon said with great enthusiasm. “We had a slate of a few people, and when I met Erin, I thought, ‘I like this man.’ I was texting everyone in the Zoom chat saying, ‘I want this guy to be on city council.’ We won the primary, now we’re onto the general.”
Success in local organizing and the power of his young peers revitalizes Simon’s hope for the future.
“When I turned to local organizing, it felt so powerful. It feels so good to work in your community. It feels good and powerful in the way that my national work did,” Simon reflected. “I’m going to make real change — I am making a real change.”
Are you ready to join Simon and create real change? Follow @InconvenientYouth on Instagram to get started today.