The October, 2018 UN IPCC Report stated succinctly that we now have just 11 years to change the trajectory of the worst effects of climate change. Many US youth have determined that decades of our inaction as the adults in charge are to blame for this global warming, so they’re taking over the conversation, people, and deservedly so. Students and youth are tired of waiting around for the politicians we continue to re-elect to #ActOnClimate, so they’re resorting to a fine US tradition of non-violent resistance. On March 15, 2019, youth around the US will stand in solidarity and @climatestrikeUS.Sunri
It’s up to us as adults to support them. We cannot stand by idly and allow militaristic approaches to dominate free speech. It’s not enough to agree with the Youth Climate Strike: we must protect them from arrest and injury — or else, we are complicit in the actions taken by a shaken, fossil fuel industry-backed government pretending to keep us safe.
Why are Youth Striking?
They’re striking because too many of the world’s leaders (many of you elected one, right?) have yet to acknowledge, prioritize, or properly address our climate crisis.
They’re striking because marginalized communities across the US — especially communities of color, disabled communities, and low- income communities — are already disproportionately impacted by climate change.
They’re striking because they feel the social order will be disrupted by their refusal to attend school, which they feel is a way to force leaders to face the climate crisis and enact change.
They’re striking as a collective call for their futures, for radical legislative action to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the US people.
They’re striking for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100% renewable economy, and for ending the creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure.
They’re striking because they believe the climate crisis should be declared a national emergency — because we are running out of time.
On March 15th, we’ll be striking from school with @ClimateStrikeUS because our present and future are at stake! Join us for the #YouthClimateStrike – check out the action map to find one near you: https://t.co/FCakuzzD3j pic.twitter.com/Lr5L0oTLDo
— Sierra Club (@SierraClub) March 8, 2019
What are They Demanding as Part of their Youth Climate Strike?
First, the Youth Climate Strike sees the Green New Deal (GND) as the pivotal mechanism to enact climate action. (If you need to refamiliarize yourself, here’s the full text of Congress’ Green New Deal Resolution, introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.)
The Youth Climate Strikers want:
- An equitable transition for marginalized communities that will be most impacted by climate change
- An equitable transition for fossil-fuel reliant communities to a renewable economy
- 100% renewable energy by 2030
- Upgrades to the current electric grid
- No new fossil fuel infrastructure like pipelines, coal plants, or fracking or projects
- The creation of a GND committee whose members haven’t accepted fossil fuel industry donations and who accept climate science; moreover, this committee must have subpoena power to oversee its implementation
Second, they want all decisions made by the US government to be tied in scientific research, including the 2018 IPCC report. This means:
- The world needs to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2030, and 100% by 2050
- The US government needs to incorporate the research within the IPCC report into all policymaking
Third, the Youth Climate Strikers want the US government to stand tall and declare a National Emergency on Climate Change.
- With only 11 years to avoid catastrophic climate change, a national emergency is prudent and necessary.
- Since the US has empirically been a global leader, it should also be a leader on climate action.
- Since the US is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it should be leading the fight in GHG reduction.
Fourth, compulsory and comprehensive education on climate change and its impacts throughout grades K-8 should be part of all US funded education, say the Youth Climate Strikers. They say that K-8 is the ideal age range for compulsory climate change education because:
- Impressionability is high during that developmental stage; therefore, it’s easier for children and young adults to learn about climate change in a more in-depth manner and to retain that information.
- Climate change becomes a nonpartisan issue when presented as science education, as it evident from the vast majority of scientific research on climate change.
Fifth, preserving our public lands and wildlife is integral to any climate change action, say the strikers.
- Diverse ecosystems and national parks will be severely impacted by climate change.
- It is our responsibility to strive to the best of our abilities to preserve the existence of green spaces and wildlife for their and our sakes.
Sixth, the Youth Climate Strikers demand that keeping our water supply clean is essential and non-negotiable.
- Clean water is essential for all living beings.
- When we pollute our water supply or the water supply of someone else, it’s a violation of an essential human right.
Youth Climate Strikers’ Proposed Solutions
All too often in life we hear people complaining about someone else’s ideas without offering any concrete alternatives. That seems to be the case with the Green New Deal, as many, many politicians and journalists are critiquing the resolution, focusing on what they perceive as wrong without taking that difficult next step of articulating a better plan.
The Youth Climate Strikers are calling for the extraction of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, replenishing our forests by planting trees and allowing them to thrive alongside sustainable forestry, and reduced food waste, knowing that methane emissions from rotting food in landfills contributes to overall GHG emissions.
They want transportation emission standards and benchmarks that align with those expressed by the science community to avoid 2° Celsius warming. They argue that it’s time to change the agriculture industry with less carbon-intensive farming and more plant-based farming.
They foresee us all using renewable energy and building a renewable energy infrastructure. To do so, we must stop the unsustainable and dangerous process of fracking as well as mountaintop removal/mining.
“These are not the sole solutions, these are just some solutions that we approve of,” the Youth Climate Strikers state, knowing that, “to be effective, these solutions need to be implemented at a large scale by the United States government.”
Recognizing that they can’t stop climate change alone, they’ve built a coalition of some really influential official partners — the Sunrise Movement, Greenpeace US, 350.org, and others.
Interested in joining in? There’s likely a location near you. #YouthClimateStrike.
Images retrieved from Twitter.