Instead of attending school today, many St. Louis-area teenagers gathered at St. Louis City Hall to urge global leaders to act on climate change.
The rally was part of the Global Climate Strike, a wave of demonstrations around the world led by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg to demand that governments transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The strike came ahead of the United Nations' Climate Action Summit in New York City on Monday.
Young people want to see Congress pass legislation, like the Green New Deal, to prevent the worst consequences of climate change, said Emilio Rosas Linhard, 17, a senior at Clayton High School.
“We know that summers are getting hotter and hotter, and we know that we keep on pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” Linhard told the crowd. “So why aren’t we doing anything?”
Multiple groups, including the youth climate advocacy nonprofit Sunrise Movement, organized the protest in St. Louis.
Among the participants were eighth graders from the Waldorf School of St. Louis who ditched school. Nora Howerton, 13, held a sign that she cut in the shape of a dinosaur.
“I don’t want us to go extinct like they did,” Howerton said.
At the rally were local environmental advocates, religious leaders and politicians, among them Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed. He sponsored a 2017 resolution that aims for the city of St. Louis to generate all of its electricity from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2035.
“The Clean Energy Board has spent hundreds and hundreds of hours developing a plan for the city of St. Louis that’s going to roll out soon that will set the course for us moving towards 100% clean energy,” Reed told the crowd.
Activists at the strike also stressed the importance of relieving environmental burdens on low-income and minority communities.
After nearly two hours of speeches and chants, protesters marched down to Keiner Plaza and back to City Hall. If the protesters weren’t involved before in environmental issues, the climate strike may inspire them to take action and volunteer with an environmental group, said Jackie Kinealy, an activist with the Al Gore nonprofit Climate Reality Action.
“It’s important for us all to come together and realize it’s much bigger than not using a straw,” Kinealy said. “We need to join together and show the people in power that we’re serious and that we’re not going away.”
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