see photos from greta thunberg’s first climate strike in the u.s.
Hundreds of young people gathered outside of the United Nations to build momentum for the global climate strike on September 20. Here’s how you can join the cause.
Photo by Lincoln Lute.
On Friday August 30, as the historic Hurricane Dorian moved closer to land and violent flames engulfed the Amazon Rainforest, hundreds of young people gathered outside the United Nations in New York to strike for climate action. For the first time ever, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who started the global youth movement Fridays for Future, joined them in the streets after completing her journey across the Atlantic on an emissions-free yacht. Young children and teens carried signs as they marched uptown from Ralphe Bunche Park, chanting “report the urgency this is a climate emergency” and “we are unstoppable a better world is possible.”
This rally was to raise awareness and build momentum for the upcoming global climate strike on September 20, which will take place on Foley Square in New York and in cities around the world. Up until now, the charge has been led by the country’s passionate students and youth, who cannot vote in the upcoming elections, but have led strikes without fail for the last 38 weeks. On September 20, they invite adults to join in their mission of saving the planet that they will one day inherit.
“So far, we have been striking alone. On March 15, we got 1.6 million students striking with us worldwide. On May 24, we got 1.9 million students striking with us worldwide. September 20 is special because we recognize that the climate crisis is a generational issue, but it requires intergenerational cooperation,” 17-year-old activist Xiye Bastida said. “We as youth cannot vote, and you know that. Our civic duty is to go to school. We are disrupting that so that you pay attention to the crisis that we’re going through. We need you to speak for us because it’s your responsibility as humans. We need you to protect everyone — that includes other people and our Earth.”
Throughout Friday’s strike, young activists were eager to remind participants and the public that the strike is not the end goal, but a catalyst for future action in their efforts to hold politicians around the world accountable for their actions. Later this month, Thunberg will speak at the U.N. Youth Climate Summit, alongside Bastida and 14-year-old activist Alexandria Villaseñor, to present their “demands for a just world and a livable future,” which include holding polluters accountable and transitioning to renewable energy.
“Six months ago, I was not an activist. I was just a sophomore in high school. Anybody can be an activist. Anybody can come support us,” 16-year-old Sophie Anderson said. “The climate crisis is not something that’s looming in the future. It is something that’s happening to us right now. We are seeing the effects everywhere, from here to Sweden and we need to take action now… the youth are rising up and you need to join us.”
Find a strike near you on September 20 here, and follow U.S. Youth Climate Strike, Fridays For Future, and Extinction Rebellion for further updates. See photos from Thunberg's first climate strike in the U.S. below.