World's Youth Are Ready to March for Bold Action on Climate

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World's Youth Are Ready to March for Bold Action on Climate

Hiding or ignoring the facts on planetary climate change will do nothing to eradicate the detrimental consequences we now face. Though our future may look uncertain, we can’t be afraid of teaching the truth and responding boldly. (Image: peoplesclimate.org)

If young people are looking for an invitation, this is it. Climate change is here and it’s not going away. This is the time to change everything and we need America’s youth to make it happen.

I am a Muslim woman who grew up in Bangladesh. I moved to Brooklyn when I was ten years old and have been living there ever since. I am currently serving as a fellow with the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), the leading youth climate education organization in the country. Just a few weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a youth summit with ACE and their partner, Global Kids, where my peers and I prepared for the upcoming People’s Climate March (PCM). The PCM will take place in conjunction with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon’s, UN Climate Summit. In case you haven’t heard, this is a big deal. World leaders from around the world will come to New York City to make bold announcements and discuss actions that will reduce emissions and mobilize political will for a strong international climate agreement in 2015.

"In the end, we won’t wait for the UN to make decisions for us; we will continue doing great work in our communities to fight for climate justice."

The People’s Climate March is just what it sounds like—a march, but this one is different. It will be the biggest action on climate in world history, with more than 100,000 people expected to attend.

As a New Yorker, I’m proud to stand alongside others in the march because I am intimately familiar with climate injustice. Hurricane Sandy devastated many of the communities around me and disproportionately affected youth, people of color and the elderly. Everyone has a different message they’ll be bringing with them to the march. For me, the battle cry will be for climate education. Climate education is vital in solving the climate crisis because youth will be most affected by climate change and we have the right to make decisions about our future.

I recently joined ACE and Global Kids at City Hall to hear the resolution for mandating climate education for all NYC k-12 students. This resolution was introduced by my peers and I and sponsored by City Council Member, Costa Constantinides. It was a truly exciting moment for me. I think back to Hurricane Sandy and how much more we could have done to prepare had the public been adequately educated about climate change and resilience.  

When young people are armed with the facts, we can make more informed decisions to mitigate climate change and prepare for its impacts. I, along with my peers, no longer want to be a target for misinformation. Hiding the facts will not eradicate the detrimental consequences, and though our future may look uncertain, we can’t be afraid of teaching the truth. We’re better off to face it today and learn how to take action now, rather than suffer the consequences tomorrow.

There’s no way around it - climate change is the defining issue of my generation. That’s why I plan to do my part, and will be mobilizing others for the People’s Climate March. I’m inviting friends, family, and classmates to participate. I’ll be putting up posters around my university and I’ll be showing up on September 21st with ACE and Global Kids to march with my peers. For me, this fight is personal. I want young people to have access to climate education, and I want all K-12 students in NYC schools, and all New Yorkers for that matter, to have the opportunity to learn about and act on climate change.

Though the enormity of climate change may seem at times to be a hopeless situation, there is great hope in the power of numbers. More than 100,000 voices will be united together to fight for bold action on climate change. In the end, we won’t wait for the UN to make decisions for us; we will continue doing great work in our communities to fight for climate justice – but the real game-changer will be equal access to climate education. Join us.

Afsana Akter

Afsana Akter is a youth climate activist with the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) and Global Kids. She was born in Bangladesh and moved to Brooklyn when she was ten years old. She is a recent graduate of Brooklyn School for the Collaborative Studies and a current freshman at Barnard College in New York City.

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