Back to School, to Strike for Climate! School-age children are protesting for new policies

By Meenal Raval

There’s a Global Climate Strike planned for Friday, September 20, days before the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City on September 23. The Global Climate Strike invites people of all ages to strike—by refusing to attend work and school—to disrupt the social order and to push our governments to act on the climate emergency we find ourselves in. Imagine the distruption possible when both young and old join forces.

Started in August 2018 by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden camping outside local government offices until they treat the climate crisis like the emergency it is, the movement has spread like wildfire—to Europe, Australia and within 4 months, the rest of the world. The School Strike for Climate is dubbed Youth Climate Strike US, and locally, Climate Strike PA. 

Why are our youth in the United States striking? Because we have only 11 years to prevent even worse effects of climate change. Their platform lists demands of the federal, state and local governments: 

  1. A Green New Deal

  2. A declaration of a national climate emergency 

  3. Compulsory education about the climate crisis 

  4. Preservation of our public lands & wildlife 

  5. Deem access to clean water a human right

Locally, I’ve met many young people inspired by Greta, who rise for climate. 

Led by youth 

Sabirah Mahmud, a high school student who organized the Climate Strike rallies first in March and then again in May, launched a boot camp in July for youth new to Climate Strike PA.

“The climate crisis is going to affect us all in different ways and it’s so important for us to take action,” Mahmud says.

With 30 new people attending the organization’s boot camp—where students learned about civil disobedience, the climate crisis and more—the September school strike for climate is expected to bring more people. Mahmud tells us they may plan a march in Center City Philadelphia that morning. With details still being worked out as of this writing, the Climate Strike PA team asks interested parties to follow it on social media.

“Let’s make September 20th the biggest strike to ever take place and make our governments accountable for their inaction against this global crisis,” she says. 

Mahmud also asks youth all over Pennsylvania to get their own school involved and “champion for a strike” wherever they are by contacting Climate Strike PA. 

Calling all kids! 

Over Memorial Day weekend, 12-year-old Hadassah Weinmartin organized the “first meeting ever” of the Sunrise Movement’s Northwest Philly hub. This first house party brought in 25 of her friends, and 10 of their parents. 

Since that first hub meeting, Weinmartin has organized another local meeting, as well as a presidential debate watch party. She’s the youngest with the Sunrise Philly team.

Her message to us? “You’re never too young to make a difference.”

Find up-to-date details on Climate Strike PA by visiting the campaign's Twitter page: @ClimateStrikePA

Meenal Raval is a catalyst for the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, and Solarize Southeast PA, to assist people in the Philadelphia suburbs transition away from fossil fuels like coal, oil, gas and gasoline & diesel.