Rattled by the weight of 2018’s climate science, and with a newfound awareness of the price we are paying for decades of inaction, people around the world rose up by the millions in 2019 to demand a crisis-level response to climate change. Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director for UCS’s Climate and Energy Program, who has seen this unfold in her role as an ally to activists, a mother of climate strikers, and herself a protester in the streets, reflects on the surging energy of youth and indigenous movements, the hope and courage they inspire, and their implicit call that hangs in the air: join us, it’s your fight too.
“2019 was the year we saw climate protests and strikes take off around the world in record numbers, inspiring us at a time when climate impacts are already so dire and hope so desperately needed. Everyone knows the inimitable Greta Thunberg. Alongside her are many climate justice advocates leading indigenous peoples’ movements and youth movements worldwide. They are fighting with a moral clarity that is impossible to deny. Hilda Nakabuye from Uganda was galvanized to action after realizing that climate change was affecting her grandmother’s ability to grow food crops. At COP25 in Madrid, she spoke powerfully: ‘I have come to think that the climate crisis is another form of environmental racism and apartheid.’ Indigenous activists like Nemonte Nenquimo, Emergildo Criollo, Sandro Piaguaje, and Taita Pablo Maniguaje, who are part of the Amazon Frontlines movement, are fighting for the future of the Amazon often at great peril to their lives. Chief Raoni Metuktire of the indigenous Brazilian Kayapó people writes: ‘We, the peoples of the Amazon, are full of fear. Soon you will be too.’ Perhaps some amazing young people in your lives are part of the global strikes for climate justice, putting pressure on political leaders to respond to the climate emergency now. Adults, please support them. Together, we are gaining strength and we will not be denied.
SENIOR ANALYST, CLIMATE & ENERGY
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists