Teenage Girls May Just Save Us From the Global Climate Crisis

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Teenage Girls May Just Save Us From the Global Climate Crisis

Students are standing up to climate change. An #Occupy style movement growing across Europe is seeing tens of thousands of teens taking to the streets to urge world leaders to take action on climate change. And most of them are teenage girls, reports BuzzFeed News

At the center of the movement is Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teen. Now 16, Thunberg launched a solitary protest last year at age 15 by boycotting school every Friday and picketing in front of the Swedish Parliament to "demand the country meet obligations under the Paris climate accords," BuzzFeed reports.

Now, tens of thousands of other students are skipping school and meeting en masse across Europe in protest. A protest in Brussels earlier this month saw more than 100,000 gathering in the streets to demand climate action. (It indirectly led to the resignation of one of Belgium's environment ministers, who claimed the protests were a plot to force her out of office.)

"Some of the most dramatic protests have come in Belgium," BuzzFeed reports. "For the past four Thursdays, mass walkouts by students have taken place, and at the heart of those actions is a 17-year-old called Anuna De Wever."

A video De Wever and her best friend Kyra Gantois posted online sparked others to join in for the marches.

“When we started it, Kyra and me, we thought it would be just 20 people,” De Wever told BuzzFeed News. “I’m so thankful to my generation that they really care about it.”

De Wever was initially motivated by Thunberg's solo protests. Then, Belgium decided not to take carbon-reducing steps last December. Not old enough to vote, De Wever felt like time was running out--she may not have another election cycle to take action. And she wasn't alone.

Thunberg, who has Asperger's syndrome, is still leading the charge in Sweden and across the continent as well. "She addressed global climate talks last December, the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, and has given her own TED Talk," BuzzFeed notes. She now has more than 250,000 followers on her Instagram page where she urges fellow teens to join her.

“We are on a school strike for the climate. … We urge everyone to do the same wherever you are,” she said in a video last September. “Sit outside your Parliament or local government building until your nation is on a safe pathway to a below two-degree warming target.”

Now, the protests may finally make their way to the U.S. as President Trump has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord and relaxed regulations for industrial polluters.

Jamie Margolin is the 17-year-old founder and executive director of Zero Hour, which is working on a protest set for March 15th in the U.S.

Young women of color are heading up Zero Hour, and it's a big deal, says Margolin, because those expected to be most impacted by climate change are already vulnerable communities. 

“There aren’t very many spaces that I can be in charge of, and what I’m going to say is going to be heard,” Margolin said. 

“If you’re a victim of a system of oppression, you’re more affected by the climate crisis — that goes for women,” she said. “Nobody is going to hand us this. We have to step up and raise our voices.”

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