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Giving Compass' Take:
• Breanna Draxler highlights the importance and effectiveness of youth climate activists in generating a real push for social and environmental justice.
• Young leaders have always been integral in fighting for social justice. How can climate activists of all ages follow the energy of the youth movement? What can we do today to fight for an equitable solution to climate change?
After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what’s at stake for their futures. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins.
“Every social movement in the U.S. that has been successful has always had strong youth and students out there leading the charge—and in most cases, leading the charge more aggressively and demanding actions over and beyond the general population,” says Robert Bullard, a professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University. That’s certainly true for climate, with youth demanding a radical transition away from fossil fuels on decidedly tighter timelines than their predecessors have advocated for.
The unequal impacts of a changing climate have become extremely clear in 2020, so equity has come to the fore of climate conversations in every corner of the country. A global deadly pandemic continues to rage out of control in the U.S., heat waves are setting new temperature records, wildfires are scorching American Western states, and the hurricane season has already made it to the end of the alphabet for naming storms. In all cases, low-income, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities are bearing a disproportionate amount of the impacts.
This year the decidedly youthful focus on intersectionality is a big part of what defines the transformation of the climate movement. Climate is not just an environmental issue, according to youth activists. It’s also a racial justice issue, an economic issue, and an access-to-health care issue.
Read the full article about youth climate activists by Breanna Draxler at YES! Magazine.