By Hannah McCurdy, A/G Intern
On March 15, students in over 120 countries skipped class to protest global inaction on climate change. There were over 2000 protests held around the world. Inspired by Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, students demand worldwide climate policy overhaul and systematic change. Inspired by the Parkland Students’ activism surrounding gun legislation reform after the February 2018 massacre, Greta vowed not to attend 9th grade until the Swedish government reduces carbon emissions in compliance with the Paris Agreement. She skipped class every Friday and protested alone outside the Swedish Parliament. Thunberg participated in several large-scale climate protests in the U.K. and Brussels in front of the European Parliament in October 2018. She spoke at the COP24 United Nations Summit in Katowice, Poland, demanding climate change be treated as the existential crisis that it is. After speaking, she further inspired thousands more students to leave school in the name of saving the planet. Her action galvanized youth around the world to skip school in protest of global inaction. Members of the Norwegian Socialist Party nominated her for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. They cited her inspiration to a global climate movement as integral to peacemaking. The largest climate change demonstration inspired by Thunberg took place on March 15 all over the world. From Uganda to China, Argentina to Los Angeles, students loudly demanded serious and urgent action be taken to reduce carbon emissions. Students called for varying climate policies in different countries, but universally reducing carbon emissions was a consistent demand from all protests.
Social media electrified the “Youth Climate Strike,” and spread word of the protests around the world. David Hogg and other youth organizers used Thunberg’s #FridaysForFuture movement to go viral on Twitter. Organization for this movement is decentralized, but young people use social media to encourage participation across the world. In downtown Los Angeles hundreds of students gathered outside city hall. As wildfires across the state continue to be more devastating with every passing year, climate change presents a more eminent and deadly threat locally. The intense results of climate change in California and Thunberg’s activism inspired students everywhere from Claremont to Sherman Oaks to gather outside city hall. No climate protest before March 15 was as widespread. Organizers estimate that over 1.5 million young people participated in protests all over the world. Further student organized protests and action is being planned. The next action day is planned for April 12th and worldwide demonstrations are expected.
Youth movements across the globe are leading issues regarding climate change, civil rights, and gun violence. Faced with widespread political stagnation on many critical issues, younger generations feel the pressing urge to make their voices heard. Investing in young people and amplifying their voices is critical to combatting climate change. With innovating environmental policies under consideration at the federal level, it is more important now than ever to ensure young activists are taken seriously. As a company dedicated to promoting sustainability and supporting green building, the youth climate action inspires us.