When it comes to climate change, young people lead the way, generating buzz and fighting for a better future. Today’s youth have made it their mission to improve the world for themselves and the generations to come. Anyone who has read the news recently has almost certainly heard the name Greta Thunberg. Thunberg and many others are stepping up, starting movements, and creating organizations focused on action and change.
In August 2018, fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg made headlines as she and a group of young climate change activists skipped school and joined together in protest. They placed themselves in front of the Swedish parliament building for three weeks. Before long, their cries for action had traveled across the globe. Eventually, thousands of students began to skip school every Friday.
Her Fridays for Future movement developed, as youths worldwide started to peacefully protest government inaction on climate change and bring attention to the critical state of our environment. Greta has organized Global Climate Strikes, received several honors and awards, including the youngest Time Person of the Year, and has even driven awareness by sailing alone across the Atlantic from Europe to New York.
As another climate change truant, seventeen-year-old Xiye Bastida also skips school on Fridays as part of the Fridays for Future movement. A Mexican native, her family moved to New York in 2015. After arriving, Xiye started an environmental club at her school and became part of several organizations focused on climate action, including the People’s Climate Movement, the Sunrise Movement, and Extinction Rebellion. She has also spoken at the United Nations several times and participated in organizing a Global Climate Strike.
Ugandan teen Leah Namugerwa is another ambassador of Fridays for Future. She became concerned about the harmful effects of plastics and has witnessed the impact of climate change locally in mudslides and flooding. Despite facing criticism and a lack of institutional support, she protested for Kampala’s climate action. Furthermore, she planted hundreds of trees for her birthday. Inspired to take action, Leah has met with foreign ambassadors, Uganda’s speaker of parliament, and attended climate change conferences in several countries.
Campaigning for Change
This is Zero Hour was started in 2017 by Jamie Margolin, Nadia Nazar, Madelaine Tew, and Zanagee Artis, after becoming frustrated by the inaction of elected officials on climate change. In 2018, Zero Hour was responsible for the first D.C. Youth Climate March.
Seventeen-year-old Jamie Margolin has lobbied state lawmakers and joined together with a group of young people to sue Governor Jay Inslee and Washington state over greenhouse-gas emissions. Her first book, Youth to Power, is scheduled to hit bookstores around the globe sometime this year.
Nadia Nazar is the co-founder, co-executive director, and art director of This Is Zero Hour. Nazar has helped to organize Climate Strikes in D.C. and has spoken at the United Nations Headquarters and testified in Congress about climate change. She was also named one of the 2018 Top 25 Women Changing the World by People Magazine.
These young people, and many others, are putting the climate change movement front and center on the international stage. They are building bridges and creating movements that are spreading worldwide. A young girl in Sweden decided to make a stand, and when she did, a girl in Uganda began to fight for change, too.
What started as a schoolkid protest has resulted in global change. We are in the middle of a climate change revolution, and the youth are leading the charge. A single spark can set the world on fire, and these young activists show us exactly how brightly that fire can burn.