Students to cut class for climate change

Source: Ines Kagubare, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, March 15, 2019

The school strikes that have swept across Europe in recent weeks are making their way across the pond.

Today, students in dozens of states plan to walk out of schools to protest inaction on climate change. In all, students in nearly 100 countries are expected to participate in the “Fridays for Future” movement demanding world leaders take forceful actions on climate.

“We’re striking because decades of inaction has left us with only 11 years to change the trajectory of the worse effects of climate change,” said Navraj Singh, a 16-year-old high school student from Virginia who plans to protest tomorrow.

The movement began several months ago in Europe when 16-year-old Swedish student and activist Greta Thunberg started skipping school to protest outside the Swedish parliament building.

Since then, Thunberg has become the face of the youth climate rebellion. In December, she spoke at the U.N. climate talks in Poland, where she blamed world leaders for not being “mature enough to tell it like it is.”

“We feel very ignored by elected officials,” Singh said, “and so we feel that we need to take a stance against them and show them that we aren’t going to stand by while we watch our government and companies destroy our environment and put our future at risk.”

Singh is an organizer of Youth Climate Strike, which is helping organize 400 protests in nearly all50 states. The group has several demands for policymakers: Adopt the Green New Deal, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to 100 percent clean energy and keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“The older generation won’t even be around to see the effects of climate change, but we’re going to be here for so much longer and we’re going to see the effects of climate change, and so it’s much more important to us than it could be for anyone in the older generation,” Singh said.

Steve Schwarze, professor of communication studies at the University of Montana, said the strikes could be pivotal in the long-term push for climate action and that they’ve already helped move the issue up on policymakers’ agendas.

“It seems to me that they’re trying to make this an important accountability moment,” Schwarze said.