Today is a monumental day in climate justice. At over 2,500 events in 150 countries around the world, activists will strike for the climate — and young people are leading the way. With so much of the world’s youth participating, this could be one of the largest climate protests in history.
The global youth climate strike is being held in support for the Fridays for Future movement founded by 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. After sailing to the United States in August, she’ll be in New York today to help lead the citywide school walkout and demonstrations. With the United Nations Climate Action Summit is this coming Monday, and the strikes are sure to send a strong message.
Thunberg will be leading a demonstration in Foley Square in New York City, then a rally and march at Battery Park. “[The US has] an enormous responsibility” to lead climate justice efforts, Thunberg told NPR. “You are such a big country.”
Under the pressure of such a big responsibility, New York City is excusing the absences of schoolchildren who choose to attend the climate strike. It’s the largest school district in the country, and the decision has inspired cities like Los Angeles and Cambridge, MA to consider doing the same.
Vice reported that teachers and students from many NYC schools were planning to strike regardless of the city’s approval, following in the footsteps of Thunberg, who sat outside the Swedish parliament for weeks in protest instead of attending school. Now, over 1.1 million kids will be free to attend climate rallies without affecting their attendance records.
Kids will still need approval from their parents to skip class, and young students cannot leave without a legal guardian. But New York City’s decision is making a big statement — it shows government support of the youth climate movement. It’s facing a lot of criticism, but could make a serious impact on how the US, and the UN, move forward on Monday at the international Climate Action Summit.
If you’re looking to join the movement, go to globalclimatestrike.net to find a climate rally near you.