Meet Levi Draheim, a 13-Year-Old Suing the US Government Over Climate Change
Like many 13-year-olds, Levi Draheim loves to play outside. He enjoys learning about animals and exploring the shores of his hometown in Satellite Beach, FL. Unlike most kids his ages, however, he’s suing the US government over climate change, along with 20 other youth plaintiffs.
Draheim is worried about the future — for himself, for his loved ones, and for the place he calls home — and that’s why he joined the Juliana Plaintiffs as the group’s youngest member to demand action from the top level of our nation’s government. The case met a road block earlier this year when a federal court dismissed the group’s case, but in a recent conversation with POPSUGAR, Draheim assured us he’s not finished fighting.
The plaintiffs, in partnership with Our Children’s Trust, will continue to appeal their case and Draheim will continue to raise his voice, hoping others will do the same. Now, Draheim has also partnered with GAP for the brand’s “Be the Future” campaign with the goal of inspiring other young people to make a difference in their own communities. Check out our conversation below.
POPSUGAR: What inspired you to get involved in environmental activism?
I was inspired to get into environmental activism because I have always been the type of kid who loves the outdoors – going to the beach, swimming, learning about animals, birds and plants, camping – that kind of thing. Being out in nature made me want to protect the environment because it is under threat from climate change. I also worry about my future and know that in order for me to continue enjoying nature, I need to take action to protect it.
PS: I know the Juliana v. United States lawsuit ruling in January was a slight setback. How do you plan to continue fighting for climate change?
For the lawsuit, Our Children’s Trust is planning on continuing with appeals and other legal tactics until we win. We aren’t going to give up because of a setback, we have had many in the past but keep on fighting. Meanwhile, I am going to continue to speak on panels, do interviews, and talk to people about climate change. I will keep doing the day-to-day things to help the environment such as reducing water use, recycling, minimizing electricity use, eating a vegan diet, and right now we are also doing a lot of gardening!
PS: Your family recently welcomed a new baby — congratulations! Does having a younger sibling help motivate your activism?
Having a little sister (Juniper Rue) motivates my activism because I have someone else to protect. Climate change has gotten worse in MY lifetime and I’m only 13, so I don’t want it to keep getting worse for my baby sister too. I don’t want her to have to experience worsening climate change.
PS: Why is it important for young people to speak up today?
It is important for young people to speak up during this time because adults haven’t done enough to protect our future and our lives. We need to take action on our own if the adults and people in power aren’t going to do anything about it. I think that it is great that GAP has recognized that climate action is important and is helping share the message of youth activists who have been doing the work to fight climate change.
PS: Do you have any advice for other teens looking to make a change in their community?
First, figure out what your passion is (animals, the beach, clean water, etc.), and then find a youth organization either in your area or online and join in. Find out from them how you can get involved and things that are going on in your own community to help with. Joining with other young people gives more voices to the issue, which means you are more likely to be heard and make real changes. It is also more fun to work with others!
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