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.


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.


Illustrations by Kathleen Founds


At Case Western, Student Activists Want the Administration to Move More Decisively on Climate Change

By Danish Bajwa 08/29/23
As the fall semester approaches, student groups at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland continue pushing for divestment from fossil fuels, among other environmentally conscious measures, as part of a larger movement that has extended…
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With TikTok and Lawsuits, Gen Z Takes on Climate Change

By David Gelles 08/19/23
As Kaliko Teruya was coming home from her hula lesson on August 8, her father called. The apartment in Lahaina was gone, he said, and he was running for his life. He was trying to…
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Who gets arrested for climate crimes?

By Emily Atkin and Arielle Samuelson 07/18/23
One of the new talks we were most looking forward to was from Vietnamese climate activist Hoàng Thi Minh Hồng. It was supposed to be about the need for climate activism in politically hostile environments,…
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Greta Thunberg charged after blocking road at oil protest

By Nick Duffy 07/05/23
Climate activist Greta Thunberg has been charged with disobeying a police order at a climate protest in Sweden where she joined activists blocking a road.
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Greta Thunberg holds last school strike as climate activist graduates

By Sarah Dadouch 06/09/23
Climate advocate Greta Thunberg graduated from high school on Friday. In true fashion, she marked the day with her final school strike, bookending a journey that began in 2018 and grew into a powerful, worldwide…
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Climate advocates protest Mountain Valley Pipeline outside White House

By Ellie Silverman 06/08/23
Danger Winslow held a microphone in his hand — the stand too tall for the 7-year-old to reach — and told hundreds of people why he returned to the nation’s capital to protest.
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Looking at the White House Through Wildfire Smoke

By Bill McKibben 06/08/23
I’m sitting on a rocking chair just outside the White House fence on Thursday afternoon, and I can more or less make out the seat of American executive power through the haze. In the morning,…
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Students and climate activists push local universities to fully cut ties from fossil fuel industry

By Alecia Reid 05/31/23
Colleges and universities across the country are investing in climate education and research, but not all of them are practicing what they preach.
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Swedish Court Says Greta Thunberg and Other Activists Can Sue Their Gov’t over Climate Inaction

A Swedish court said Greta Thunberg and 600 other climate activists can proceed with a class-action lawsuit against the Swedish government for failing to respond to the climate disaster. The climate group, Aurora, hopes to…
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Why Greta Thunberg is protesting wind farms in Norway

By Kelsey Ables and Rick Noack 03/01/23
When Swedish climate advocate Greta Thunberg and other activists protested at several Norwegian government ministries this week, they weren’t demonstrating against new petroleum refineries or tax incentives for Big Oil. Instead, they were standing against…
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At Davos, Thunberg visit spotlights lack of climate action

By David Keyton And Masha Macpherson 01/20/23
Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg on Thursday slammed corporate bigwigs meeting in Davos, Switzerland, for “fueling the destruction of the planet” by investing in fossil fuels and prioritizing short-term profits over people affected by the…
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Greta Thunberg removed by German police from coal mine protest site

By Jones Hayden 01/16/23
Swedish activist Greta Thunberg was removed Sunday by police along with other protesters as they demonstrated against the razing of the German village of Lützerath for the expansion of a coal mine. Thunberg did not…
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Unicef – Youth for climate action

Elevating the voices of young people to protect the future of our planet.

Future Coalition

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…

Earth Uprising

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.

How to Talk With Kids About Climate Change [2022 Guide]

It may not be the “birds and the bees” talk you were anticipating having with your kids. But the truth is, the birds and bees are dying, and children aren’t oblivious to the adverse effects…

Youth Vs. Apocalypse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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,…

Fridays for Future

#FridaysForFuture is a youth-led and -organised movement that began in August 2018, after 15-year-old Greta Thunberg and other young activists sat in front of the Swedish parliament every schoolday for three weeks, to protest against…

EarthEcho International

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 Guardians

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…

Generation Green New Deal Podcast

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

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.


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

By Laura Krantz   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.
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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.
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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…
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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…
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Photos: What the youth climate strike looks like around the world

By Brian Resnick   09/20/19  
These images of youth climate activists on strike around the world are simply inspiring.
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New York’s Climate Strike and the Things That Make Teen-Agers March

By Alexandra Schwartz   09/20/19  
Each generation inherits the messes made by its predecessors, and their mythologies, too. Like many nineties kids, I grew up on stories and photographs of anti-Vietnam protests: young people in flared jeans and peacoats marching…
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Most American teens are frightened by climate change, poll finds, and about 1 in 4 are taking action

By Sarah Kaplan and Emily Guskin   09/17/19  
In a coastal town in Washington, climate change has a high school junior worried about the floods that keep deluging his school. A 17-year-old from Texas says global warming scares him so much he can’t…
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Greta Thunberg, Climate Activist, Arrives in N.Y. With a Message for Trump

By Anne Barnard   08/28/19  
Her protests on Fridays demanding action on climate change have inspired children to demonstrate in some 100 cities. Her admonitions to grown-ups to “tell it like it is” have won her an invitation to speak…
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Climate strike organizers pledge to “turn up the heat” and demand global action

By Julia Conley   08/21/19  
One year after Greta Thunberg began her protest in Sweden, millions of climate strikers will join her on Sept. 20.
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Sunrise Movement pushes DNC to hold climate debate

The Democratic National Committee will reportedly hold a vote on whether to host a presidential debate focused solely on climate change later this month. Varshini Prakash, co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement, spoke…
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The Youth Climate Strike as Seen by Teen Photographers

By Emily Dreyfuss   03/28/19  
On March 15, young people around the world walked out of school and into the streets. From San Francisco to South Africa, an estimated 1.4 million students raised their collective voices to bring awareness to…
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Meet Alexandria Villaseñor, the Teen Activist Who’s Spent 12 Fridays Outside the United Nations Striking for the Climate

By Lucy Diavolo   03/01/19  
On Friday, March 1, 13-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor will start her morning as she has every Friday for the past three months. She’ll wake up at 8:00 A.M. and get ready for her day. But instead…
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Climate change strike: thousands of school students protest across Australia

By Naaman Zhou   11/30/18  
‘Strike 4 Climate Action’ brings thousands of students together in defiance of prime minister’s warning.
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We Youth Can’t Vote: But That’s Not Stopping Us From Taking Political Action To Save Our Futures

By Jamie Margolin   07/07/17  
15-year-old Jamie Margolin recounts her experiences lobbying politicians in Washington state.
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‘Now I Am Speaking to the Whole World.’ How Teen Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Got Everyone to Listen

By Suyin Haynes   05/16/19  
The world is listening. Organizers estimate that on March 15, a remarkable 1.6 million people in 133 countries participated in a climate strike inspired by Thunberg’s solo action—mostly students who walked out of school for a few…
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‘The Beginning of Great Change’ / Greta Thunberg hails school climate strikes

By Jonathan Watts   02/15/19  
The 16-year-old’s lone protest last summer has morphed into a powerful global movement challenging politicians to act. 
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Young Activists Can Sue Government Over Climate Change, Supreme Court Says

By Jacob Pinter   11/03/18  
A group of young people can sue the federal government over its climate change policies, the Supreme Court said Friday. Since it was first filed in 2015, the government has requested several times that Juliana…
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How young activists hope to make climate change a political priority

By Amy Sisk   07/17/18  
Young activists like Anaïs Peterson are focusing in pushing climate change to the center of the political arena. Peterson, a college student, is indicative of an emerging trend among youth demanding that older policy-makers act…
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Juliana v. US: For Children of All Ages-The Last Hurrah?

By Joel Stronberg   02/08/19  
This case  is not resolved yet but Joel Stronberg’s latest piece does not see a positive outcome.
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Davos, this is outrageous

By Greta Thunberg   01/23/19  
Climate change is an existential threat to humanity and already a matter of life and death for many, but it is just one issue among many on the agenda at this year’s World Economic Forum.…
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Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, youth climate activists arrested at Pelosi’s office demanding Democrats embrace ‘Green New Deal’

By Jessica Corbett   11/14/18  
"Ocasio-Cortez's decision to join the protesters and march on her own House leader sets a tone of urgency and combativeness that is rare on Capitol Hill."
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They’re Young and They Want Change. Now They’re Ready to Vote for the First Time.

By Dan Levin   08/25/18  
Weary of a political system that many young Americans see as rigged against their generation, and fired up to elect candidates who they believe support the issues they care about, a surge of young adults…
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Youth group plans 3-day DC rally to highlight climate change

By Bopha Phorn   07/16/18  
Thousands of millennials, along with older supporters, will gather in Washington for a march organized by environmental advocacy youth-group #ThisIsZeroHour. Sister marches will take place across the country as marchers demand that policy-makers address mitigating…
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Youth climate activists demanding Green New Deal arrested at Mitch McConnell’s office

By Jessica Corbett   02/26/19  
Hundreds of Kentucky high school students and climate campaigners with the youth-led Sunrise Movement descended on the Capitol Hill office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday to deliver 100,000 petition signatures and stage…
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Becoming Greta: ‘Invisible Girl’ to Global Climate Activist, With Bumps Along the Way

By Somini Sengupta   02/18/19  
Like a modern-day Cassandra for the age of climate change, her solitary act of civil disobedience — this was the 25th Friday that she skipped school to protest at Parliament — has turned her into…
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The Story Behind the Green New Deal’s Meteoric Rise

By Sam Adler-Bell   02/06/19  
How twelve young activists forced a bold idea into the mainstream of the Democratic Party.
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The teen who reprimanded world leaders about climate at COP24

By Zoë Schlanger   12/15/18  
Fifteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg minced no words at the COP24 climate talks in Katowice, Poland this week. Speaking to the assembled countries Wednesday, at the most important climate negotiating meeting since the Paris…
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These Kids Won a Court Case Forcing Colombia to Protect the Amazon

By Joe McCarthy and Erica Sanchez   04/06/18  
It sets a precedent that could lead to similar victories around the world.
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A Decisive Year for the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal

By Osita Nwanevu   05/14/19  
Six months ago on Tuesday, climate activists with the Sunrise Movement, joined by the incoming congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, held a sit-in at the office of the incoming House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, demanding that House Democrats…
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To ‘secure a livable future,’ 30,000 youth urge court to let landmark climate suit go to trial

By Jake Johnson   03/01/19  
"We are filing the Young People's brief to show that thousands of youth across America not only feel the urgency of climate action, but also understand that the youth climate lawsuit must proceed to secure…
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Playing hooky to save the climate: why students are going on strike

By Umair Irfan   02/21/19  
Greta Thunberg’s #FridaysforFuture movement has inspired kids in dozens of countries to demand action on climate change.
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How a 7th-grader’s strike against climate change exploded into a movement

By Sarah Kaplan   02/16/19  
13-year-old Alexandria Villasenor has, every week since December, the seventh-grader has made a pilgrimage to the United Nations’ headquarters demanding action on climate change. She is one of a cadre of young, fierce and mostly…
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Teenagers Emerge as a Force in Climate Protests Across Europe

By Milan Schreuer, Elian Peltier and Christopher F. Schuetze   01/31/19  
Tens of thousands of children skipped school in Belgium on Thursday to join demonstrations for action against climate change, part of a broader environmental protest movement across Europe that has gathered force over the past…
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Bernie Sanders’s Latest Endorsement: Sunrise Movement

By Astead W. Herndon   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.
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The Sunrise Movement Is Building An Army In The Early 2020 States

By Zahra Hirji   10/01/19  
The Sunrise Movement is scaling up operations in Iowa and New Hampshire to mobilize young people demanding climate action to the polls in the early presidential primary states, organizers told BuzzFeed News.
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Greta Thunberg to sail Atlantic for climate conferences

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has accepted a ride across the Atlantic by boat to attend two key climate conferences. The teenager will make the journey aboard the Malizia II, a high-speed 18-metre (60ft) yacht built…
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