The international protest will come ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg delivers remarks to campaigners in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2019. She will lead the Global Climate Strike on Friday. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
Young people from around the world are leading a massive coordinated strike from school on Friday, September 20, to protest government and business inaction on climate change. It is likely to be one of the largest environmental protests in history.
The Global Climate Strike comes just before countries will gather at the United Nations for the Climate Action Summit on September 23. It’s a meeting ahead of the UN General Assembly where countries are supposed to ramp up their ambitions to curb greenhouse gases under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
“If you can’t be in the strike, then, of course, you don’t have to,” 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, the original school striker who began last year demanding more action from her government on climate change with weekly protests, told Teen Vogue. “But I think if there is one day you should join, this is the day.”
Thunberg has become an increasingly influential figurehead and voice for youth climate angst and activism. Since she no longer flies because of the aviation industry’s high carbon emissions, she was offered the opportunity to travel to the US on a zero-emissions sailboat. After arriving on August 28, she’s now in Washington, DC, speaking before Congress and meeting with US lawmakers and activists before heading to New York City for the strike and the summit.
It’s a big moment for Thunberg and the legions of youth and adult activists and leaders she’s inspired since she began skipping school on Fridays to protest outside the Swedish Parliament in August 2018. Thousands of young people in the movement, called Fridays for Future, now strike every Friday to demand more aggressive action from their governments and the international community. The last large-scale coordinated climate strike on May 24 drew participants from 130 countries.
The New York strike is expected to attract thousands of people, and parallel strikes in DC, Boston, Seattle, Minneapolis, Miami, Los Angeles, and Denver may, too. But this is truly a global strike and it will be the movement’s largest yet, with 2,500 events scheduled across 150 countries. (The Global Climate Strike website has a searchable map showing all the events.) Millions in all may participate.
Thunberg will be leading a demonstration at Foley Square starting at noon Friday in New York City, followed by a rally and march to Battery Park. The 1.1 million students in the city’s public schools have even been excused students to join the strike.
And it’s not just young people joining in. In Sweden, a group of senior citizens called Gretas Gamilingar (Greta’s oldies) is participating. Indigenous activists, labor groups, faith leaders, humanitarian groups, and environmental organizations like Greenpeace and 350.org will be there, too. Outdoor equipment company Patagonia said it will close its stores on Friday in solidarity with the strike. So is snowboard brand Burton. More than 1,000 employees at Amazon have pledged to join the strike. MORE
Tick. Tock. People of all ages have had enough. The Climate Crisis must be stopped. This Friday people will descend on cities and towns across the world…will you?