As youth with the Fridays for Future movement took to the streets Friday, two weeks ahead of the global #ClimateStrike planned for Sept. 20, environmental activists continued to raise awareness about the upcoming protests being organized in more than 100 countries.
Climate campaigners already have registered over 2,500 strikes worldwide, with more than 450 actions planned for the United States, the advocacy group 350.org announced in a statement Friday.
The demonstrations on Sept. 20 will kick off a week of action that coincides with a United Nations climate summit in New York City. Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, 350.org's North America director, said Friday that the global strike "is an intergenerational and multiracial moment to make our stand for our right to transformative climate action that preserves a sustainable, healthy, and livable future for all."
"With the leadership of young people backed by grandparents and parents alike, health workers, teachers, cab drivers and more, now is the time for all of us to come together to demand that real climate leaders at the national, state and local levels hold fossil fuel companies accountable for decades of negligence and damage," added Toles O'Laughlin, recognizing the youth activists that inspired the global movement.
Some of those youth activists—including Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg—gathered outside the U.N. headquarters in New York Friday, chanting: "No more coal! No more oil! Keep the carbon in the soil!"
— 350 dot org (@350) September 6, 2019
Friday was the second consecutive week that Thunberg joined youth protests for urgent climate action outside the U.N. headquarters following her two-week journey across the Atlantic on a carbon emissions-free sailboat. Thunberg tweeted Friday, "Even though I've taken a sabbatical year from school, I will still demonstrate every Friday wherever I am."
School strike week 55.
New York City.
Even though I’ve taken a sabbatical year from school, I will still demonstrate every Friday wherever I am. #FridaysForFuture #schoolstrike4climate #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/pes0GkBgix
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) September 6, 2019
Xiye Bastida of Fridays For Future NYC explained that the global strike on Sept. 20 "isn't a goal, it's a catalyst for future action."
"It's a catalyst for the engagement of humanity in the protection of Earth," Bastida continued. "It's a catalyst for realizing the intersectionality that the climate crisis has with every other issue. It's a catalyst for the culmination of hundreds of climate activists who won't stop fighting until the climate emergency is over."
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A campaign by U.K. Student Climate Network shared a video promoting the actions Friday that caught the attention of author and activist Naomi Klein—one of the high-profile adult climate leaders who have spoken out in support of the global strike.
In addition to NYC, activists are organizing strikes in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Seattle, Washington D.C., and other major U.S. cities.
Jesus Villalba Gastelum, a 16-year-old Earth Uprising L.A. city coordinator and Youth Climate Strike Los Angeles organizer, noted that L.A. is "a diverse city of many roots, including Indigenous, Mexican, Spanish, American, and Tongva."
"We are organizing the L.A. Youth Climate Strike from a place of love, hope, and resolve," said Villalba Gastelum. "Our march is calling out inaction on the climate crisis, and stands in support of refugee rights, human rights, and dignity for all."
Villalba Gastelum added that "while this mobilization is youth led, we welcome people of all generations to join us."
Looking ahead to the upcoming actions around the world, Future Coalition executive director Katie Eder said Friday that "our message will be clear—we must act now to avoid the worst effects of climate change because all of our lives depend upon it. We are the new face of the climate revolution and we demand just and equitable climate action."
The Future Coalition, which is coordinating the U.S. youth-led strikes, has released a list of demands for the actions. Fast Company detailed those demands in a report earlier this week:
- A Green New Deal: Building on "the" Green New Deal resolution in Congress, this calls for transforming the economy to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, while creating jobs and ending leases and permits for fossil fuel projects.
- Respect for indigenous land and sovereignty: Honoring treaties protecting indigenous land by ending resource extraction in and affecting those areas.
- Environmental justice: Investing in the communities affected most by poverty and pollution.
- Protecting biodiversity: Protecting and restoring 50 percent of the world’s lands and oceans and stopping all deforestation by 2030.
- Sustainable agriculture: Investing in regenerative agriculture and ending subsidies for industrial agriculture.
"Too often, we think about solutions in a very small-minded way, inside the box," 19-year-old Eder told Fast Company. "We don't have time to stay in the box. We really need to be more innovative with our solutions and ask for what we need, not what we think could be possible or has been possible in the past."
350.org executive director May Boeve, in the group's statement Friday, outlined the emergency the world currently faces and what needs to be done to address it.
"Climate breakdown is one of the greatest human rights issues we face. Fighting climate breakdown is about much more than emissions and scientific metrics—it's about fighting for a just and sustainable world that works for all of us," she said. "We need to start by phasing out fossil fuels, building real and long lasting solutions, and prioritizing the communities at the frontline of the climate crisis."