Students protested around the globe for more action on climate change. Students around the world and across the U.S. skipped classes Friday to protest inaction on climate change. It's part of a wave of pressure from young people who say their future is at stake.
NPR logo

Skipping School Around The World To Push For Action On Climate Change

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/703461293/703687140" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Skipping School Around The World To Push For Action On Climate Change

Skipping School Around The World To Push For Action On Climate Change

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/703461293/703687140" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Students across the country are skipping school today to support efforts to combat climate change. It's being called a Youth Climate Strike, an extension of similar strikes around the world, calling for more action to address global warming. Here's NPR's Jeff Brady.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: In Denver, 12-year-old Haven Coleman says her environmental activism began with a campaign to help manatees.

HAVEN COLEMAN: And I ended up saving one manatee. His name is Cheese. He's adorable. But - so I've always been passionate about fixing something when I see it's - something's wrong.

BRADY: On climate change, Coleman says, she was inspired by Greta Thunberg in Sweden. She skipped school to protest outside Parliament last summer. Coleman searched for other young activists interested in a similar school strike in the U.S. and found her first colleague in Minnesota.

HAVEN: I was like, OK, could you be a state lead over Instagram? And then she said, yeah, sure. And I was like, cool. And then we became co-directors.

BRADY: The campaign has grown. Now climate strikes are scheduled in all but a few states today. Among organizers' demands, they want Congress to pass the Green New Deal, which would speed the country's transition to carbon-free energy and remake the economy to spread wealth more evenly. Coleman says the campaign received some help from adults, but much of the preparation was done by young volunteers across the country.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Maybe we want to go over this with a little bit more yellow.

BRADY: This group met last weekend in a Philadelphia rowhouse to paint a long cloth banner that reads, it's our future.

SABIRAH MAHMUD: We're doing our art build for the strike, so we're making banners. We're making posters and signs.

BRADY: Sixteen-year-old Sabirah Mahmud leads a team of about 20 people organizing the Philadelphia Youth Climate Strike. She has a personal motivation. Her family is from Bangladesh, where flooding is a big problem.

SABIRAH: So the thing is that, like, sea levels are rising. And Bangladesh is one of the countries that - where, like, climate change is really happening.

BRADY: Across the room at a kitchen table, Enya Xiang is writing a letter to her congresswoman. Xiang is a 16-year-old sophomore at a high school in the suburbs and has worked on logistics for the strike.

ENYA XIANG: I had to go down into the city to file the permits and figure out all the sound technology we need, figure out how to get microphones and all that. And dealing with adults is a little scary.

BRADY: Some adults are critical of the Youth Climate Strike, both its goals and methods.

SCOTT SEGAL: I do not like the symbolism of sacrificing education to make political points.

BRADY: Scott Segal is a partner with the law firm Bracewell, which represents energy companies. He welcomes these newcomers to the public policy arena but, just like some moderate Democrats, says the Green New Deal is not realistic. And Segal says energy companies are doing a lot already.

SEGAL: Industry believes that policy to address global climate change is a 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year job that they're already engaged in. And they're moving in that direction.

BRADY: But Haven Coleman says they're not moving fast enough. She says striking school is extreme, and it's done with a goal in mind.

HAVEN: To get the adults attention because you're not really listening to us now, so this is the radical stuff that we need to do to get your attention.

BRADY: And if this strike doesn't accomplish that, Coleman says another is planned in May. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Philadelphia.

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.