Hordes of Climate Kids Are Back in the Streets Because the UN Summit Didn't Solve the Crisis

“We can’t wait for the next UN summit and hope they get their acts together,” said a 17-year-old striker
September 27, 2019, 4:55pm
climate strike  youth activists UN summit

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The United Nations Climate Action Summit last week failed to get major countries to commit to climate action, so the climate kids are back in the streets for another round of mass protests Friday.

Another wave of huge youth climate strikes unfurled around the world for the second consecutive Friday, with tens of thousands of people filling the streets of New Zealand — organizers estimate that 3.5% of the island nation’s population were on strike — and an estimated million-plus people in Italy. And as fires continue to tear through the Amazon, there will be strikes in the nations surrounding the rainforest, in Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, and Ecuador.

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The protests are expected to be quieter in the U.S., where young activists say they’re stepping back to put the focus on the international strikes. Some will go on a “silent strike” at their schools, where, instead of leaving class, they won’t speak.

But some of them will be on the streets of New York. A group of ten have been striking outside the U.N. all week while international leaders convened for the international body’s general assembly.

Fifteen-year-old Kallan Benson — the first teenager in the U.S. to go on climate strike, who's been staging weekly protests since last December — was among those camped out by the U.N. all week.

“We’ve seen these meetings happen over and over and over again, and no action comes out of them,” she said. “I would’ve liked to see commitments that reflect the urgency of this issue from our world leaders.”

Over 60 countries made new pledges at the U.N. summit to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. But the biggest emitters — namely the U.S. and China — did not. All in all, the countries that promised to further decrease their emissions are currently responsible for just 8% of global emissions, according to the World Resources Institute.

“We can’t wait for the next U.N. summit and hope they get their acts together,” said Jonah Gottlieb, a 17-year-old who’ll be joining Benson on strike in Manhattan Friday. “Millions of people will suffer while they move incrementally and play politics with human lives.”

Isabella Fallahi, 16, was among the 300,000 strikers in New York last week. On Friday, she was striking alone outside the Indiana statehouse.

“I kind of enjoy being by myself today, cause I know I’m not actually by myself,” she said. “I can sort of feel the unity between myself here now and the million kids striking in Italy.”

Cover: Climate demonstrators take part in a global climate protest in Stockholm, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. The protests are part of the so-called global climate strike that saw what organizers have said were several million people march in cities across the world last Friday ahead of the U.N. climate meeting. New Zealand, Italy, Canada and a number of other countries focused their protest efforts on the second wave, bookending a week in which climate change was at the forefront of the global conversation. (Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency via AP)