As leaders around the world prepare to gather for an emergency summit on climate change next week, a global grassroots movement is gaining attention with planned climate strikes this Friday. WMRA’s Bridget Manley reports.
GRETA THUNBERG (via CNN): We are the younger generation, we are the ones who are going to be affected, and therefore we demand justice… [crowd] What do we want? Climate Justice! When do we want it? Now!
As part of a student led movement to get leaders of the world to talk about climate change, Harrisonburg, Staunton and Charlottesville will all be taking part in Global Climate Strikes on Friday morning.
These Global Climate Strikes are a grassroots movement started by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate change activist who became well known for her candid remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
An emergency United Nations climate summit will be held in New York City on September 23rd, and activists locally and internationally are hoping the Global Climate Strikes will send a message to those taking part in the summit that climate change is an emergency in need of immediate action.
People from across the globe will be walking out of their jobs, schools, and homes to protest the continued use of fossil fuels and raise awareness for climate justice.
The Staunton Climate Strike will feature speeches from professors who research climate change, students who are worried about the future and the Mayor of Staunton, Carolyn Dull, who will be singing “This Land Is Your Land.”
Georgi Tomisato is Co-Chair of Earth Day Staunton and the Founding President of Shenandoah Green.
She says that she was inspired by Thunberg’s remarks and activism when she decided to start a strike in Staunton.
GEORGI TOMISATO: You know, when I first heard about Greta Thunberg, she really impressed me. The fact that she cares so much, she's young, and I think that sometimes the older people just don’t always see the importance in it. Since we founded Shenandoah Green in the beginning of this year, we began to read more and learn more, and all of a sudden you begin to really be concerned about what’s happening with the Earth and anything we can do to help others be exposed to that, I think, is really important.
In Harrisonburg, there will be speakers, music, and protest during the afternoon.
Mitchell Green is an activist and senior geographic science major at James Madison University. He’s also one of the organizers of Harrisonburg’s Climate Strike.
He says that students from JMU, Eastern Mennonite University, and local high schools will all be participating, saying that he wants to reverse climate damage for him, his future children, and generations to come.
MITCHELL GREEN: What we are asking for and demanding is that our current leaders right now take urgent action into this. This issue will affect generations to come, and it is imperative that we act right now together as one to face this problem.
Green is calling on local elected officials to begin taking steps on a policy level to reverse the damage already done to the environment.
GREEN: There are many different things at the local and state policy levels. Some, for example, the 25 by 25 initiative, which is 25% renewable energy by 2025 for the city of Harrisonburg, as well as for JMU, locally, for myself and for the students at JMU, we are hoping to increase our renewable energy usage on campus. There’s currently only solar panels and a wind turbine on our campus that don’t go towards powering anything, it’s just more educational, so we are hoping to increase that.
Tomisato says that she hopes that it will raise awareness about the climate crisis globally.
TOMISATO: The problems of the Earth - about climate, about pollution, about plastics - that it would be on their radar, because I talk to educated people who care, and yet they don’t know about some of these things like the climate strike. So I know that it’s not out there on everybody’s radar. I think if it was and people understood the crisis then we would see legislation happen a lot faster.
The Staunton Climate Strike will begin at 10:30 Friday morning at the Staunton Innovation Hub, and participants will march to the courthouse.* [Note: the destination for the march in Staunton has changed to Sunspots Pavilion, rather than the courthouse.] The Harrisonburg Climate Strike will begin at 12:30 at Court Square. Another climate strike in Charlottesville will begin at noon at the Freedom of Speech Wall.