NEW YORK ― Hundreds of young people took a break from their summer vacations to strike for climate action on Friday, joining well-known climate activist Greta Thunberg outside of the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan.
The rally precedes a youth-led global climate strike to take place on Sept. 20, days before the U.N. Climate Action Summit.
Protesters ― many of them teenagers ― held signs that said, “In Greta We Trust,” and, “If You Won’t Act Like Adults We Will.” They chanted phrases like, “Sea levels are rising, and so are we,” in between speeches by young climate activists.
Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden, had arrived in the U.S. earlier in the week by way of a solar-powered boat. Many of the teens at the rally were members of Fridays for Future, a global movement founded by Thunberg, in which students strike on Fridays for climate action.
Olivia Payne, a rising senior at The Beacon School in Manhattan, says she often participates in strikes at her school. She’s been pushing her parents to be more aware of ways they could be more environmentally conscious, too.
“There’s always underlying dread because we know impending doom is coming, but at the same time it’s inspired me to be aware of my own personal actions,” Payne said.
Overall, though, she found the Friday strike comforting, especially seeing how many adults showed up.
Pada Schaffner, a rising senior at Dwight School in Manhattan, has been involved with climate action since he was a young child, when his parents used to take him to rallies. Now he works to get his classmates involved.
“It can be hard to convince a classmate that going to a strike is more important than turning in whatever they have due Friday, but overall I think this generation does realize how important this issue is, specifically to us,” he said.
Gretta Reed, an environmental science teacher at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, has dealt with worried middle-school students who see climate change as the issue of their generation.
“I think the kids are thinking about it, they have a lot of anxiety about it. It’s a part of their everyday life now,” Reed said. “Whether or not people are teaching it, the kids are needing it and learning it themselves.”