Youth-led climate strikes in Europe move to US cities

Students from all around the world participated in the “Global Climate Strike” on Friday, March 15


Hanna Franzen/EPA

Greta Thunberg holds a sign that translates “School strike for the climate” outside of the Swedish parliament.

Gracie Rodriguez, Opinions Editor

On Friday, March 15, tens of thousands of students from over 100 different countries walked out of their classrooms to participate in the largest climate change inaction demonstration yet, the “Global Climate Strike.” In the United States alone, students from more than 100 cities plan to participate in the demonstration, which was organized with the leadership of three girls: Haven Coleman, Alexandria Villasenor, and Isra Hirsi.

Climate change will greatly impact this generation of young students, and as more people recognize that, the desire to take action becomes more and more urgent.

This international youth-led climate strike was inspired by a 16-year-old girl from Sweden, Greta Thunberg. Since September 2018, Thunberg has been skipping school every Friday to speak out against her country’s neglect of climate justice. She stands outside of her country’s parliament building, demanding that Sweden comply with the Paris Agreement. Thunberg spoke at the UN Climate Change COP24 Conference last December, urging global leaders to take action on climate change.

“The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday,” Thunberg said. “If I have children, maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there was still time to act,” she added. 

Thunberg’s demonstrations influenced other students around Europe to do the same. The “Youth Strike 4 Climate” movement formed in Britain, and it gained momentum through social media– students in France, Sweden, Germany, and several other European countries have held their own demonstrations.

While many political figures have shown support for the “school strikes,” several politicians have voiced opposition to them.

“Everybody wants young people to be engaged in the issues that affect them most so that we can build a brighter future for all of us,” said the spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May, “but it is important to emphasize that disruption increases teacher’s workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.”

In response to the prime minister’s opinion, Thunberg responded on Twitter by saying “British PM says that the children on school strike are ‘wasting lesson time.’ That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse.”