THROUGH POLITICAL ACTION

THROUGH POLITICAL ACTION

THROUGH POLITICAL ACTION

Long before you can vote (which may be the most important thing you will ever do – at every opportunity, locally and nationally) you can get involved politically. 

Young people are driving political action at an unprecedented level. We’ve made history. We’re organizing on local and global scales and have transformed the climate fight. 

In 2015, before Greta Thunberg broke into our consciousness as a fifteen year old fighting climate change, 21 young people filed a lawsuit against the federal government for threatening their  “fundamental constitutional rights to freedom from deprivation of life, liberty, and property.” The suit is ongoing and the majority of the children are now old enough to vote.

On December 15, 2018, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, then 15 years old, addressed world leaders at the UN conference on climate change. Writer and activist Naomi Klein praised Thunberg for her moral clarity and for galvanizing young people, who found a sense of agency in her #FridaysforFuture strikes. Her school strikes became a worldwide phenomenon with more than 7.6 million people joining the global climate strike on September 20, 2019. 

A year before Greta started striking, Seattle 15-year old Jamie Margolin co-founded the protest group Zero Hour. She’s lobbied state lawmakers and is part of a group of youths suing Washington state over greenhouse-gas emissions. On September 18, 2019, Jamie testified before a U.S. House of Representatives committee alongside Greta Thunberg. 

In 2019, 17-year-old Irsa Hirsi co-founded the U.S. Youth Climate Strike Coalition. This alliance of eight US-based youth-led climate groups came together, mobilized Future Coalition, and planned the US marches of 2019. The daughter of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, she is driven by her identity as a Black Muslim woman and has been a longtime advocate for intersectionality and diversity within the climate justice movement. Her experiences have taught her why it’s so important that those disproportionately affected by climate change are at the forefront of the issue, and why the climate movement needs more people like her

 

The Sunrise Movement, perhaps the most prominent youth movement today, was founded by Sara Blazevic and Varshini Prakash, both 24 years old in 2017. The group’s assertive tactics have brought a profound awareness to the climate crisis. Their November 2018 sit-in at Nancy Pelosi’s office alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put the Green New Deal in the spotlight of the mainstream media. In February 2019, Sunrise Movement delivered a 100,000 signatures petition and staged a sit-in at Mitch McConnell’s office, demanding the Green New Deal. They have also pushed Democrats running for president to release serious, detailed plans to drastically cut America’s fossil fuel emissions.

 

DIGITAL ACTIVISM

The 2020 COVID pandemic didn’t stop youth activists. In fact, April 2020 saw the first Digital Earth Day, and the first-ever virtual Youth Environmental Summit took place in August 2020. Greta Thunberg took her Fridays for Future climate strike online and urged supporters to “find new ways to create public awareness and advocate for change” such as posting photos with your protest sign on social media with hashtags. 

Sunrise Movement has shifted its electoral strategy to focus almost entirely on phone banking and friend-to-friend organizing — encouraging people to talk to their friends and relatives directly about the candidates they support. The Down Ballot Disruption Project teaches young people over Zoom how to canvas for candidates in their local elections and how to build a social media community around their activism. 

The pandemic helped young people pivot to focus on educating more people about the climate crisis through targeted online campaigns, distributing educational material and encouraging virtual training and webinars. 

The youth climate movement has become so profound and so poignant that communication experts have studied how young people have successfully captured the world’s attention. Even the dictionary recognized “climate strike” as 2019’s Word of the Year.

1 in 4 American teens are now taking action to fight the climate crisis. There is a place for everyone when it comes to climate activism. Whether you’re volunteering, using art and text to educate others, or voting, you are part of the work. No one is too small to make a difference.

THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Illustrations by Kathleen Founds

NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Generation Green New Deal Podcast

11/02/20
A new generation has pushed the climate crisis to the center of American politics. Generation Green New Deal tells the story of this youth movement: who they are, what they’ve accomplished so far, and where…

Inherited Podcast

11/02/20
We don't choose the world we inherit. But we do choose what we do with it. Stories from, for, and by the youth climate movement. Produced by Georgia Wright and Julianna Bradley.

Unicef – Youth for climate action

04/30/20
Elevating the voices of young people to protect the future of our planet.

Youth Vs. Apocalypse

04/30/20
Youth Vs. Apocalypse is a diverse group of young climate justice activists working together to lift the voices of youth, in particular youth of color, and fight for a livable climate and an equitable, sustainable,…

Youth Climate Strike

04/30/20
We, the youth of America, are striking because decades of inaction has left us with just 11 years to change the trajectory of the worst effects of climate change, according to the Oct 2018 UN…

Young Voices for the Planet

04/30/20
The mission of the Young Voices for the Planet film series is to to limit the magnitude of climate change and its impacts by empowering children and youth, through uplifting and inspiring success stories, to take an…

This is Zero Hour

04/30/20
We, the youth, believe that #thisisZeroHour to act on climate change. We cannot afford to wait any longer for adults to protect our right to the clean and safe environment, the natural resources we need…

Sunrise Movement

04/30/20
Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. We're building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the…

Plant for the Planet

04/30/20
Inspired by Wangari Maathai, who planted 30 million trees in Africa in 30 years, Felix formulated his vision: Children could plant one million trees in every country on earth and thereby offset CO2 emissions all…

Heirs to our Oceans

04/30/20
Heirs to Our Oceans is a rising tide of young leaders around the globe who are taking the ocean crisis into their own hands, educating themselves and others, bringing hope and solutions to the surface,…

Future Coalition

04/30/20
Built by youth activists, for youth activists, Future Coalition is a national network that fosters community and collaboration among youth leaders and youth-led organizations. Young people have the ideas and passion to make incredible change…

Fridays for Future

04/30/20
#FridaysForFuture is a movement that began in August 2018, after 15 years old Greta Thunberg sat in front of the Swedish parliament every schoolday for three weeks, to protest against the lack of action on…

EarthEcho International

04/30/20
EarthEcho International is a nonprofit organization founded on the belief that youth have the power to change our planet. Established by siblings Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their father Philippe Cousteau Sr., and…

Earth Uprising

04/30/20
Earth Uprising isn’t an organization. It’s a battle cry. We are young people across the world who won’t stay silent while our future is destroyed.

Earth Guardians

04/30/20
Earth Guardians trains diverse youth to be effective leaders in the environmental, climate and social justice movements across the globe - using art, music, storytelling, on the ground projects, civic engagement and legal action to…

MORE WAYS TO TAKE ACTION

Turning Out the Young

11/02/20
How the Sunrise Movement is mobilizing the youth vote—with a mix of reluctance and enthusiasm—for Biden

Greta Thunberg Hears Your Excuses. She Is Not Impressed.

11/02/20
Greta Thunberg has become so firmly entrenched as an icon — perhaps the icon — of ecological activism that it’s hard to believe it has been only two years since she first went on school strike to…

Generation Climate Is Making The Crisis An Issue In Local Elections

10/22/20
Among young voters, 74% want state and local governments to do more about climate change. And they’re lining up to make that happen.

Youth for climate action

08/10/20
Climate change is here. As its impact intensifies over time, it is the children and young people of today who will face the worst effects.

Stanford education scholar explores how political views influence teens’ understanding of climate change

04/21/20
Before enrolling as a doctoral student at Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE), Lynne Zummo, PhD ’20, worked as a high school teacher – and before that, as a scientist conducting geology research on climate…

Planning protests, not prom: inside today’s youth climate strike movement

10/18/19
On a Friday afternoon in early autumn, 17-year-old Jerome Foster II was not at school. He wasn’t at home, either. Foster was outside the White House in Washington, D.C., holding a sign that read, “School…

‘We Must Grow This Movement’: Youth Climate Activists Ramp Up the Pressure

10/11/19
From school strikes to the harder edge of Extinction Rebellion, young climate activists are making their voices heard, and they're increasingly politically engaged.

Climate change: Children are carving out a place in politics, now adults must listen and act

09/20/19
There's no doubt that young people today are driving action on climate change. The #FridaysforFuture school strikes are arguably the most dedicated and sustained direct action in a generation.

Climate change: children are carving out a place in politics – now adults must listen and act

09/20/19
There’s no doubt that young people today are driving action on climate change. The #FridaysforFuture school strikes are arguably the most dedicated and sustained direct action in a generation.

Why young climate activists have captured the world’s attention

09/18/19
From Jakarta to New York City, children and teenagers are walking out of class and marching in the streets to demand action on climate change. And the world is taking notice.

Our Kids Are Right About Climate Change

09/17/19
As delegates for the UN's Climate Action Summit convene in New York, the real leaders are the young people pushing for climate justice in the streets.

Teaching global warming in a charged political climate

07/06/19
Their training doesn’t cover it, many textbooks don’t touch it, but teachers are taking on climate change anyway.

Zero Hour launches nationwide campaign in support of Juliana v. US Plaintiffs

02/21/19
On Saturday, Zero Hour launched its nationwide #JoinJuliana campaign to help thousands of young people add their names in support of the Young People’s amicus (“friend of the court”) brief it will file in support…

Launch an ocean startup

01/16/19
Their goal is to have 200 global chapters by 2018, each focused on developing advocacy campaigns targeting local elected officials, hosting community-centered impact events, and raising awareness about the common responsibility to protect our ocean.

March for Climate Change

08/15/18
If there is not one happening in your community already, organize one!

MORE NEWS

IPCC report: Greta Thunberg says world ‘must be brave’ to overcome climate emergency

By Rory Sullivan   08/09/21  
The world must be “brave” in confronting the climate emergency, Greta Thunberg has said after the publication of a comprehensive new UN report. The environmental activist spoke out in response to the Intergovernmental Panel on…

Envisioning a Civilian Climate Corps

By Ashira Morris  Photo: Edison Velez III, Flickr   07/22/21  
Echoing back to the Civilian Conservation Corps of last century, a Civilian Climate Corps would employ young people across the country in government jobs taking on the climate crisis. The modern corps concept has been…

Dems agree on a ‘climate corps.’ Now comes the hard

By Emma Dumain  Photo: Francis Chung/E&E News   07/21/21  
In every Congress since 2008, Rep. Marcy Kaptur has introduced legislation to create a federal program that would hire and train for jobs to combat the effects of the climate crisis. Yesterday, the Ohio Democrat…

What Dallas Can Do in the Fight Against Climate Change

By Alex Macon  Photo: Rachael Warriner   07/15/21  
Kidus Girma is an organizer with Sunrise Movement Dallas, the local hub of a national youth-led movement fighting against climate change. In recent weeks, organizers with Sunrise Dallas have taken part in a 400-mile march…

The geriatric Senate confronts a youth movement

By James Arkin  Photo: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster   07/04/21  
Jon Ossoff broke the Senate’s generational barrier for millennials. His fellow 30-somethings want to make sure he isn’t alone for long.Ossoff was 33 when, in January, he became the first senator of his generation and…

Sunrise Ends 400-Mile Climate March With Arrests at Ted Cruz’s House

By Jessica Corbett  Photo: Rachael Warriner   06/21/21  
After six weeks of marching 400 miles from New Orleans to Texas amid fruitless federal infrastructure negotiations, Sunrise Movement activists concluded their march on Monday with arrests outside the Houston home of renowned Republican climate…

‘It does not have to be like this’: 266-mile anti-climate change trek stops in Santa Rosa

By Nashelly Chavez  Photo: Kent Porter   06/10/21  
A group of seven activists on a 266-mile trek from Paradise to San Francisco stopped in Santa Rosa on Thursday morning to garner support for a federal plan that would create thousands of jobs to…

The Civilian Climate Corps (CCC), Explained

By Ellen Sciales   04/20/21  
The Civilian Climate Corps is a visionary policy that would create a government jobs program putting a new generation of Americans to work combatting the climate crisis.

Young Climate Activist Fights to Save Indiana Wetlands

By Mary Jo DiLonardo   03/15/21  
Early this year, youth activist Leo Berry was at the Indiana State House with his mom and a couple of friends to support a climate resolution study and research bill that was being introduced. While…

The Greta Thunberg Effect

01/26/21  
We are pleased to announce the publication of a new research article “The Greta Thunberg Effect: Familiarity with Greta Thunberg Predicts Intentions to Engage in Climate Activism in the United States” in the Journal of…

What the Senate Vote Could Mean

By Lisa Friedman  Photo by Audra Melton   01/06/21  
If Democrats win control of the Senate with twin victories in the Georgia runoffs, that shift will hand President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s administration significant additional power to address climate change.
CNN

The Sunrise Movement is an early winner in the Biden transition. Now comes the hard part.

By Gregory Krieg  Photo: Matthew Addler/Sipa USA/AP   01/02/21  
The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activist group, has quickly announced itself as one of the most influential progressive forces in the formative days of President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration.

Climate Ambassador Card

10/20/20  
Be a climate ambassador! We designed these credit card-sized cards to fit in your wallet so that wherever you are, and whoever you are with, you feel confident to begin—and sustain—climate conversations. This is a…

A Teen-Powered Get Out the Vote Campaign

10/20/20  
Our collective future depends on electing leaders up and down the ballot who are committed to taking bold action on climate change that is informed by science and centered on justice. Extreme weather events, melting…

‘It gives us hope’: Young Hoosiers gather for ‘Day of Action’ event at Indiana Statehouse

By Jordan Erb  Photo by Kelly Wilkinson   10/17/20  
The hourslong demonstration, "Crossroads of Democracy: Day of Action," was designed to appeal to young people who might not realize they have a political voice, one organizer said.

Greta Thunberg Chides Amy Coney Barrett For Her Weak Stance On Climate Change

By Jeremy Blum   10/15/20  
The teenage activist argued that like gravity, climate change was a fact of life — not something to have “views” on.

2020 Climate Change Voter’s Guide

10/08/20  
Each 2020 candidate — whether for the Presidency, the Senate or the House, whether incumbent or challenger, gets a climate score from zero to 100 for the voter to take into the voting booth. Use…

A small but passionate crowd joins global climate strike to call for environmental justice

By London Gibson   09/25/20  
Just days after a grand jury's decision to indict only one of the police officers involved in the shooting of Louisville woman Breonna Taylor sparked national outrage, a small but passionate group of young climate activists chanted her name at the statehouse…

Being A Youth Climate Activist During Lockdown Is Hard. Here’s How I’m Still Making A Difference.

By Miriam Awan  Photo: Miriam Awan   09/24/20  
The world is burning outside my window and I’m stuck inside. But I can still push for change.

Youth Environmental Activists Strengthen Their Stand in the Climate Movement

By Khanh (Kay) Nguyen  Photo: Luke Franke/Audubon   09/14/20  
Student leaders proved age is trivial when taking actions on environmental issues at the first-ever virtual Youth Environmental Summit.

16 Children Await UN Decision As Youth Climate Movement Recalibrates

Emily Schwing  Photo: Thomson Reuters Foundation   09/09/20  
Last fall, 16 children from across the world, including Greta Thunberg, filed a formal communication with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. Within the communication, the kids make the argument that their home nations…

Youth Climate Activists To Speak At Democratic National Convention

By Kevin Robillard   08/19/20  
Alexandria Villaseñor, one of the founders of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, will speak.

COVID-19 canceled mass protests. Here’s what youth climate activists are doing instead.

By Lauren Aratani   08/09/20  
For young climate activists in the United States, staying home because of the pandemic does not mean staying silent, with plans gathering pace across the country to make their voices heard in November’s elections.

Social-media savvy youth climate movement isn’t stopping for COVID-19

By Sarah Kennedy   06/26/20  
For many young people, leveraging online platforms is nothing new.

Young U.S. Conservatives Speak Out For Post-Pandemic Environmentalism

By Matthew Lavietes   06/22/20  
A group of young conservatives has urged the United States to rebuild the post-pandemic economy with clean energy to help combat climate change, joining the ranks of Republicans who say they are unhappy with U.S.…

Youth Climate Strikers Storytelling Hub

Photo by AC Dimtatac   06/02/20  
The climate strikers who captivated the world during last year’s Global Climate Strike haven’t gone anywhere. They’re still here, organizing online for action on climate change even in the midst of a global pandemic. And…

Greta wasn’t the first to demand climate action. Meet more young activists.

By Laura Parker   03/25/20  
Reynolds, 20, is five foot two. When she is 60, she says in her speeches, sea-level rise in her home state of Florida will reach her waist. When she's 100, it will be far over…

Young Republicans: The new climate activists? Maybe.

By Zoya Teirstein  Photo: Shutterstock   02/11/20  
Nowadays, the left’s definition of a climate hawk is clear. The progressive wing of the Democratic party has unified behind a shared litmus test: Does the person in question support the Green New Deal? Sterling…

YLS students protest firm’s Exxon ties

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Yale Law School students protested an elite law firm’s ties to ExxonMobil at a recruitment event for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLC.

Sunrise Movement helps deliver Sanders win in Iowa

02/07/20  
Today, after a four-day delay in the release of caucus results, Bernie Sanders is declaring victory in the Iowa Caucus after the Iowa Democratic party’s results show him winning a majority of votes on the…

Greta Thunberg has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

By Matthew Rozsa  Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images/Salon   02/03/20  
If she earns the honor, Thunberg would join Malala Yousafzi as the youngest Nobel laureate ever at 17

At Davos, the Greta-Donald Dust-Up Was Hardly a Fair Fight

By Marianne Lavelle  Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images   01/22/20  
The teenage activist from Sweden delved into the finer points of carbon neutrality. The president denounced the “prophets of doom” and sputtered, “How old is she?”

Bernie Sanders’s Latest Endorsement: Sunrise Movement

By Astead W. Herndon  Photo: September Dawn Bottoms for The New York Times   01/09/20  
The move by the group of young climate activists was another sign that left-wing advocacy organizations have increasingly coalesced around the Vermont senator’s candidacy.

‘How dare you’: Greta Thunberg’s 5 powerful messages in 2019

12/29/19  
'How dare you', here are Greta Thunberg 's 5 powerful messages in 2019. The Swedish climate change activist became the Times Person of the Year with her protest.

For evangelicals, climate change causes a split between young and old that could hurt Republicans

By Laura Krantz  Photo: Steve Pope for the Boston Globe   12/28/19  
Cornfields flank the highway that forms the main road here and grain elevators tower overhead, constant reminders of how farming permeates this rural community in the state’s northwest corner.

Young Indigenous activists lead climate justice action in Alaska

By Tripp J Crouse   12/20/19  
Two Alaska Native teenagers pushed for a resolution declaring a climate emergency – and decision-makers listened.

Youth Climate Activists Storm COP25 Stage

12/12/19  
By Andrea GermanosYoung activists took over and occupied the main stage at the COP25 climate conference in Madrid, Spain Wednesday and demanded world leaders commit to...

What does the Global Climate Strike look like through the eyes of a youth organiser?

Matilda Borgstrom   11/26/19  
Can you remember the powerful scenes from last September, when millions around the world took to the streets to strike for climate justice? Shayli was one of the youth organisers behind the amazing success of…

‘Climate Strike’ Wins ‘Word of the Year’ by Collins Dictionary

11/08/19  
More than 7.6 million people joined a climate strike during September's week of global action, making the week of strikes one of the biggest protests in...

15 Canadian Kids Sue Their Government Over Climate Crisis

10/29/19  
During last week's Fridays for Future school strike, 15 Canadian kids ranging in age from 10-19 stood on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery to...

How the Youth Movement Turns Political Words into Political Will

10/15/19  
This marks the addition of a new audio feature on the Civil Notion site, which I'm calling A Piece of My Mind.In this first episode, I examine the alchemistic role of the climate youth movement…

The Sunrise Movement Is Building An Army In The Early 2020 States

By Zahra Hirji  Photo by Sunrise Movement   10/01/19  
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WATCH: Greta Thunberg’s full speech to world leaders at UN Climate Action Summit

By Greta Thunberg   09/23/19  
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg chastised world leaders Monday, Sep. 23, for failing younger generations by not taking sufficient steps to stop climate change. "You have stolen my childhood and my dreams with your empty…

Isra Hirsi Is 16, unbothered, and saving the planet

09/21/19  
As the co-founder of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike and the daughter of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Isra Hirsi is grappling with harassment, safety threats, tokenization, and privilege on a national scale years before she's even…
Vox

Photos: What the youth climate strike looks like around the world

By Brian Resnick  Photo: Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images   09/20/19  
These images of youth climate activists on strike around the world are simply inspiring.

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Activists are getting their messages across with some funny, angry and wittily worded placards. ...

From Sydney To San Francisco, Millions Are Striking For Global Climate Action

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The day of protest precedes the United Nations summit on how to rein in the worst effects of climate change. ...

Greta to Senate: Sorry, but Please Do More

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Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her...

Most American teens are frightened by climate change, poll finds, and about 1 in 4 are taking action

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Walkabout: Teen climate activist builds following with Downtown vigil

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“We have the power to change," said Leandra Mira, who continues to be a presence each Friday outside the City-County Building....