Greta Thunberg is not the only teen taking risks to save the planet. VICE News spoke with young activists in regions directly impacted by climate change, who are challenging authorities on their climate inaction.
But don’t call them the “Greta” of their country: each of their fights against climate inaction looks different, and some climate activists believe the label “Greta” erases the full scope of their work and its unique challenges.
Nkosi Nyathi knows that any change in global emissions won’t come from his home country of Zimbabwe, but from industrialized countries. His community has disproportionately felt the impacts of severe drought and fires, which directly impacts their food supply and income. Victoria Falls saw the worst drought in a century in 2019. So the 17-year-old has begun an initiative to teach his community about climate change, and to call on global leaders to reduce their global emissions and invest in sustainable development.
For Howey Ou, in China, the fight against climate is lonelier. She is the only teen in the country to go on strike to bring attention to climate change. In doing so, she’s become a target for Chinese authorities and her school won't allow her to return until she gives up her activism. But Howey vows she will continue to strike every Friday until China aligns with the Paris agreement.
In Alaska, Quannah Chasinghorse likes to refer to herself as a “climate protector” rather than a “climate activist.” She’s become a protector of the land and water of indigenous communities in Alaska, particularly in the fight to save the Arctic Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling. Quannah’s tribe, the Han Gwich’in Nation, relies on the roughly 20 million acres of sacred land for food and cultural tradition. But, in August, the Trump administration announced that it will officially open up the refuge to oil extraction.
Extractivism is a familiar issue for 19-year-old Nicole Becker in Argentina. She’s watched big oil companies and wildfires tear through her land. But she wondered why there weren’t any local protests against these environmental issues like the ones she saw in Europe. So she began “Jovenes Por El Clima,” a Fridays for Future movement, to represent young Latin Americans in the climate conversation. Her organization got the first climate change law in Argentina passed, and successfully pushed the country to declare a climate and ecological emergency.
Cover: VICE News Tonight