Thousands of city’s youth walked out of the classrooms yesterday and into the streets to participate in a worldwide strike for climate change.
“What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!”
This was the cry of the hundreds of young protesters led by the local chapter of Fridays for Future who marched from City Hall Park to Battery Park.
They held signs that read, “Protect our home,” or “If you breathe air, you should care!!”
The New York City Friday for Future movement summed all the various banners and chants into four specific demands. They want clean energy, no funding for projects polluting the environment, t environmental justice education in public schools and environmental protection for 30 percent of the country’s land and sea.
“We need to completely cut our carbon emissions and fracked gas,” Brooklyn Darling, a SUNY New Palz University student said.
She also believes it is crucial to follow the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement, and sign the Green New Deal.
“Those in power should listen to youth. We are the ones who are inheriting this earth after they leave,” Yasmin Bhan, one of the strike’s organizers said.
That is why organizers led the crowd with the slogan: “Uproot the system.” The same message also led more than 1,400 Friday’s climate strikes around the world.
“Especially in Congress, there are a lot of people getting paid by the fossil industry,” protestor, Gerome Foster II said. At 18 he is the youngest member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory and the executive director of youth voting advocacy group OneMilionOfUS. “We need to vote out the people who are continuing to perpetuate the system and are putting us at risk.”
Foster was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist who launched the Fridays for Future movement and a close friend.
This global strike happened just a few weeks before November’s UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and during New York Climate Week.
As a response to Climate Week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced several new climate policies including a 15-Year $191 million plan for reaching the goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2040 and carbon neutrality by 2050.
But this is not ambitious enough for the protestors since youth climate activists rallied for clean energy by 2030 and not 2040.
And a lack of ambition and will is what Foster noticed on Biden’s Environmental Advisory Council.
“The hardest is reaching the scale of the plans,” he said.“Often, we’re fighting over how we scale up and what we can do, for instance, 10 percent increase over the next 10 years and we say: ‘No, based on the science, we need to make an 80 or 90 percent decrease.’ And they’re like, ‘Well, we can’t do that,’” he said.
According to Foster, the political climate is simply not changing fast enough.
“They don’t understand the urgency or the scale of it,” he said.
And that is why the organizers voiced from the stage of Battery Park the need for tackling climate change globally.
“No matter your race, gender, identity, sexual orientation, religion or social economic status, this is a fight for all,”he said.