No matter where you are in the world, if you have the ability to strike, sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg says that this Friday is the day to do it. She will be in New York City to help lead the global youth climate strike, taking place in cities all around the world on Friday, September 20th, a few days prior to the UN Climate Summit. With Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement that students will not be punished for missing school to attend the climate strike (with parental permission, of course), there could be over 1 million public school students in attendance.
Leading up to the public strike, Thunberg has been working behind the scenes to further climate action. She was on Capitol Hill this Wednesday, along with American youth climate activists Vic Barrett, Benjy Backer, and Jamie Margolin to offer testimony in support of climate action in front of a Congressional panel. In lieu of a prepared statement, Ms. Thunberg presented last fall’s IPCC Special Report on Global Warming. “I don’t want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to the scientists. And I want you to unite behind the science,” she added. “And then I want you to take action.”
Climate action allies on the Congressional panel took the opportunity to draw comparisons between today’s youth climate movement and other movements in history and around the world; one cited the protests in Hong Kong, where protestors have waved the American flag and sung our national anthem. Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York praised the climate activists’ efforts, citing the fact that young people and students were integral to the success of the American civil rights movement.
Several Republican members of Congress in their testimony took the spotlight off the urgency of climate action and toward the importance of economic growth, as well as minimizing America’s potential to impact climate action by citing bigger global polluters like China or India. Responding to Rep. Garret Graves’s insistence that there’s not much that we can do in the context of global patterns of emissions, Thunberg responded, “I am from Sweden, a small country, and it’s the same argument, ‘Why should we do something — look at the US?’ It’s being used against you as well.” Mr. Backer agreed with Thunberg, concluding that America should be the leader it says it is by moving forward with climate action, even when other countries are not on board.
To join in solidarity with youth strikers around the world this tomorrow, visit the Sunrise Movement’s homepage to find a climate strike near you.