Young environmental activists around the world walked out of their classes on Friday to protest inaction on the behalf of their governments regarding climate change. Thousands of students from over 100 countries participated in the walk-out in what was named the “Youth Climate Strike.”
Although the students hail from different nations and are pushing for distinct policy changes according to their countries’ positions, as a whole, the students are pushing for reductions in greenhouse gas emission. Following a report released last year from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world has a mere eleven years left to take significant action if we desire to prevent extreme climate-related disasters.
Despite the fact that 195 countries signed the Paris climate accords over three years ago in a commitment to keeping global temperatures less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the young environmentalists are under the impression that not enough tangible action has been taken by global leaders to keeping their promises. Indeed, if we continue to emit greenhouse gases at the rate that we are currently doing so, the planet will reach that 1.5 degrees Celsius marker as soon as 2030.
According to the Youth Climate Strike website, the students participating in the US walk-outs will be striking for the following demands:
1. A national embrace of the Green New Deal
2. An end to fossil fuel infrastructure projects
3. A national emergency declaration on climate change
4. Mandatory education on climate change and its effects from K-8
5. A clean water supply
6. Preservation of public lands and wildlife
7. All government decisions to be tied to scientific research
While strikes took place in almost all fifty US states, the gathering outside the capitol in DC was particularly impressive. Twelve-year-old Haven Coleman, co-founder and co-director of the US Youth Climate Strike, stated at a news conference in DC, "Today, the tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of kids who are striking around the world are doing it not because we want to skip school, but because we are scared. Climate change is the largest threat to our lives, our future and our world.”