The Youth Of The Climate Change Movement
Greta Thunberg has become the face of climate change activism, appearing on the cover of Time magazine as their Person of the Year in 2019. Strong-willed and adamant voice for climate action Thunberg has inspired people of all ages around the world, even leading a massive climate strike in New York in September 2019.
Thunberg represents a growing number of teenaged and twenty-something activists, young individuals concerned about the planet's future. Here are some additional young activists, no less dedicated or determined, calling for change around the world.
Milou Albrecht, Callum Neilson-Bridgefoot, and Harriet O’Shea Carre
As residents of Castlemaine, Australia, the so-called “Castlemaine Three” are co-founders of School Strike for Climate Australia. Their group organizes student walkouts, demanding “no new coal and gas projects...100% renewable energy generation and exports by 2030” in Australia. The group also advocates for funds to support new job creation and career transitions for fossil-fuel workers and communities.
Albrect, inspired by Thunberg and motivated by rising global temperatures that are causing increasingly devastating wildfires in her native Australia has called for German-based industrial powerhouse, Siemens, to withdraw from ongoing coal mining activities.
In O’Shea Carre’s words, the strikes will continue until real action is taken, "We're not going to stop because there's no point in having an education on a dead planet, and at this stage, that's what we're headed for.”
Jayden Foytlin, Kelsey Juliana, Levi Draheim, and 18 Fellow Plaintiffs
In 2015, a group of teens filed a lawsuit against the federal government in Oregon. Their complaint? That the federal government violated “their constitutional and public trust rights” by actively encouraging the fossil fuel production that has increased the Earth’s temperature.
The lawsuit, called for “an order enjoining defendants (the United States) from violating those rights and directing defendants to develop a plan to reduce CO2 emissions.” The suit also requested a plan to, “restore Earth’s energy balance...and stabilize the climate system.”
While the lawsuit was thrown out in January 2020, her efforts - and those of her co-plantiffs - highlight increasing fear and calls for action among younger populations. According to Foytlin, she and her fellow activists, “all share one thing in common — we really care about where we're from, and how we are going to continue to live [here].”
Haven Coleman, Isra Hirsi, Maddy Fernands, and Alexandria Villaseñor
Co-founders of US Youth Climate Strike (USYCS), Coleman, Hirsi, and Villaseñor were inspired by Greta Thunberg to channel their own passion for climate crisis awareness into a formal organization. Alongside their press director, Maddy Fernands, the three range in ages from 12 to 17 and have established chapters throughout the country.
USYCS has a 15-point platform, one it sees as a sneak peek “into larger, more comprehensive policy plans.” Actively combating climate change and pushing for climate justice, the core of their mission remains clear. Coleman states, “I am fighting for the plants, for the animals, for myself, for millions of lives, for future generations, and for survival.”
With large-scale strikes in their past, USYCS plans to engage in an extensive strike campaign during the upcoming election cycle. Focused on “a political establishment that has shown time and time again they’ll choose their donors and short term profits over the lives of millions,” USYCS asserts they’re going to bring about, “real political change” in 2020.
Bastida experienced the effects of climate change first hand, forced from her home in Mexico due to flooding in 2015. After relocating to New York with her family, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy demonstrated to Bastida the severity and extent of climate change.
Now 17, Bastida remains one of the most active school strikers in the United States. Her activism led to receipt of the Spirit of the United Nations Award in 2019.
Katie Eder launched Future Coalition, a collection of some 50 youth-led organizations, in 2018. Through Future Coalition, Elder seeks to provide, “The tools, resources, and support” to empower young activists.
For the Wisconsin native who founded her first nonprofit at the age of 13, “Activism in general was always just sort of a part of how I grew up.” Future Coalition and one of its members, the US Youth Climate Strike Coalition, are focused on building upon increasing climate change action momentum.
They have strikes planned throughout early 2020, refusing “to participate in a society and economy that is actively destroying our generation’s chance at a livable future.
Driven by concerns for their own futures - and for the planet as a whole - the young faces of climate change activism continue to drive the movement forward. Their enthusiasm, energy, and dedication bodes well for growing climate awareness and, hopefully, for positive change.