Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"Our diplomas may say we are the Class of 2019, but marked in history," writes Harel, "we are the Class of 0000." (Image: 'Class of 0000' campaign)

We're Not the Class of 2019. We're the Class of 0000.

Deliver a plan for zero emissions—or get zero of our votes.

Lia Harel

I am a second semester high school senior. For many students in my position, this is the best part of the year: the notorious "senior-slide" kicks in, chatter about life after high school fills the hallways, and we countdown the days until we get to toss our caps in the air. It’s graduation season.

For decades, each class before mine has shared a similar experience at their graduation ceremony—an experience of time hopping, per say. Students celebrate their past academic accomplishments and look forward in anticipation of future endeavors.

However, my graduating class will not share this experience.

"This graduation season, we are speaking out about the present. We are emphasizing what needs to happen now. We need zero emission, zero excuses, and zero delays—because we have zero time to waste when it comes to solving the climate crisis."

How can we look forward to the next chapter of our lives when the the flames of wildfires are already burning the pages of our stories? How can we look forward to building a home with a family when the floods, hurricanes, and rising sea levels are already tearing down our walls? How can we look forward to making the American Dream our reality when economic instability, food insecurities, and mental and physical illnesses are already plaguing us like nightmares? How can we look forward to our future at all when climate change already threatens to destroy anything that might remain of it?

This is not an exaggeration, and this is certainly not a hoax. This is the reality that my generation faces. But we, the Class of 2019, are determined to reverse this reality.

So this graduation season, we are speaking out about the present. We are emphasizing what needs to happen now. We need zero emission, zero excuses, and zero delays—because we have zero time to waste when it comes to solving the climate crisis. Across the nation in gymnasiums, football fields, and auditoriums, commencement speakers are dedicating a minute of their speeches to talk about the need for immediate, bold climate action. Most significantly, we are giving all 2020 political candidates of both parties a choice: have a plan to get to zero emissions—or get zero of our votes.

Our diplomas may say we are the Class of 2019, but marked in history, we are the Class of 0000. We have the power to create a future to look forward to.

"This is the era in which science is fact, calls for action result in change, and boldness will save us. We, the Class of 0000, are the first class of this era."

Yes, I am a second semester high school senior. I lack the motivation to finish my AP Statistics homework. Yet, I have the passion to take part in the commencement of a new era of climate leadership. This is the era in which science is fact, calls for action result in change, and boldness will save us. We, the Class of 0000, are the first class of this era.

Please join us.

About the 'Class of 0000' campaign:

Class of 0000 is a student-led campaign to take over graduation for climate action. Together, valedictorians and salutatorians across the country will deliver the same message to our leaders in their commencement speeches: deliver a plan for zero emissions — or get zero of our votes. Join our movement at the website: Classof0000.com.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Lia Harel

Lia Harel

Lia Harel is an 18-year-old climate activist from Hopkins High School in Minnesota, and she is one of the youth helping to organize the Class of 0000 Campaign.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·


UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement 'To Benefit Humanity'

"We're at a critical juncture in history," said Ethics in Tech founder Vahid Razavi. "We need as humans to come together and decide what is the best course of action to take with these technologies before they surpass us in their abilities."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressive US Lawmakers Mark Black Friday With Calls to Pass the PRO Act

"The right to organize, fight for better working conditions, and fair pay must always be protected."

Jessica Corbett ·


'We Are Fighting Back': Global Black Friday Strikes and Protests Seek to #MakeAmazonPay

"We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet."

Kenny Stancil ·


'It Was Entirely Avoidable': Rich Countries Blamed as New Covid Variant Sparks Global Alarm

"Allowing new variants to emerge and spread, 13 months into the vaccine era, is a policy choice by the rich world."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo