Youth activists across the globe marched last week to pressure electeds at all levels of government to "reject the corrupting monetary influence of fossil fuel executives," ban all new dirty energy developments, and safeguard the planet for both its current inhabitants and future generations.”
They insist that climate change be treated urgently, as "an issue of survival". A good plan if ever there was one, especially now that a leaked UN report shows only ‘rapid and far-reaching’ changes will stop global warming exceeding 1.5C target by 2040. Their movement, The Zero Hour, calls for a just transition to fossil fuels and points out that 2040, they year international goals need to be met to avoid a giant environmental cataclysm, is just 22 years away. Most of them will be in their 30’s.
Act.tv was live at the event in NYC, where several hundred protestors, mostly high-school and early college-aged, joined with their, um, ‘elder allies’ and walked from one indistinguishable Trump real-estate monstrosity past another on their way to UN Plaza. Or as close to UN Plaza as the NYPD would let them be with a stage and speakers.
Watch the whole event here:
At the end of the march, young speakers took the mic, some of whom gave speeches rivaling the passion and energy of the one a certain former one-term senator from Illinois delivered at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. And we all know how that turned out.
The march seemed successful in a few ways including cracking the “spiral of silence”, where people don’t speak out because they assume that nobody else cares, which is especially important for young people. It also took a swing at the media black out around climate change. And they don’t seem to be making the mistake of substituting mobilization for movement-building. In their non-marching time they report being busy lobbying, creating communities, educating and organizing. Emboldened by the recent surge and success, in media, if not policy, of the #MarchForOurLives student-led movement for gun control sparked by the Parkland school shooting, these young people too, are marching, and organizing, for their lives and everyone else's.
And, although they did encourage voting and helping register their communities to vote, there was evidence of the dawning realization that working within the system is not enough. One speaker relayed a story about having NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo shake her hand, look her in the eye and agree to commit to a fossil free future. She then expressed shock, surprise and dismay that the next day he literally turned around and did something contrary to that promise. Ah…youth. Hopefully they will all remember what Former President- elect Al Gore said in 2008 when he issued a clear call to action for young climate activists:
“If you’re a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience…”
Julianna Forlano is an Act.tv Senior Correspondent.