A few hundred students joined “Fridays for Future” (FFF) for a global climate strike demanding climate justice and more drastic actions dealing with the impending climate breakdown. The young protesters gathered in Foley Square on March 3rd before marching across the Brooklyn Bridge and rallying at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
Tinzen Miglay, a member of “Students for a Free Tibet,” attended the strike because she wanted people to know that temperatures in Tibet have been rising two to four times faster than the global average.
Known as the “Water Tower of Asia,” Tibet holds the largest reserve of glacial freshwater besides the North and South Poles, providing water to 2 billion people in Asia. Miglay explained that China has been building dams, deforesting, and mining Tibet “at a rate that is unsustainable.” China’s insatiable appetite for minerals has been causing havoc on Tibet’s water quality and ecosystem.
Miglay shared that Tibetan climate activists put their lives on the line fighting the Chinese government. One activist, A-Nya Sengdra, is serving a seven-year prison sentence, while his brother Jmitri died in prison in Nov. 2019 after spending almost a year in detention.
“We think it’s so important for us to get their names, and their voices, and their stories out there,” Miglay said. “And to also get young people here today, who clearly care about the climate and are very passionate about climate justice, to learn more about Tibet. Because I’m sure once people know what the Tibet climate crisis is, they will be happy to hop on board and help our cause.”
Parsons students Maglia Quigley and Isabell Kristiansen thought it was “ridiculous” that people still don’t believe in climate change and said, that politicians live in “their own world” when dealing with the climate emergency.
“I grew up with all kinds of people who don’t believe in climate change, who don’t believe in equal human rights,” Quigley, who grew up in Utah, said. “And it’s insane that there’s still that amount of ignorance in our world.”
“[Politicians] need to start thinking outside of their own bubble,” Kristiansen, who is from Norway, said. “I think that’s why it’s important that like students and like young people are coming in like voicing that we’re not just some like generation that’s like online all the time. Like, you know, this is our future.”
For Jasper Lung, an international high-school student from Hong Kong, the most pressing concern was the Willow project, an oil-drilling project on Alaska’s North Slope.
“It imposes policies on extracting fossil fuels and it also destroys wildlife,” Lung said.
The “last generation”—a term coined by European climate activists—wants the U.S. Government to support a request made by the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu to the United Nations. Vanuatu, threatened by rising sea levels like most Pacific island nations, called on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to define what legal responsibilities countries have for the climate crisis.
More than 105 countries have agreed to co-sponsor a resolution at this year’s UN Assembly—except the world’s two biggest carbon dioxide emitters, the United States and China.
“There are over 100 countries that are signed on,” one activist who spoke at the rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall explained. “But the U.S. still says no, because they don’t want to own up to what they’re doing for climate change. So we need to pressure President Biden to say yes.”
The climate activists also called on Albany to fund the “Climate, Jobs, and Justice Package” (CJJP). The bill would fully fund and implement New York’s Climate Act, build renewable energy and create “green” union jobs, hold the worst polluters accountable, and end state subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.
Zuzu Qadeer, a community organizer with TREEage, addressed the crowd on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall.
“This package has the potential to transform our state green and address the climate inequities of our fellow Brown, Black, and Indigenous New Yorkers,” Qadeer said.
FFF gained notoriety when Swedish student Greta Thunberg protested outside the Swedish Parliament in 2018 for three weeks. She called on lawmakers to address the climate crisis with an increased sense of urgency.
Ever since, millions of young people worldwide have joined the international youth movement, pressuring governments to curb the emissions of fossil fuels, the main contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Hillary Taylor Seguya, a climate activist from Uganda, is campaigning against the construction of a crude oil pipeline in East Africa. The pipeline, built by French oil giant Total and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), would be the longest in the world, stretching 900 miles from Uganda to Tanzania. Activists fear the pipeline will displace communities, endanger wildlife, and bring the globe a giant step closer to a climate catastrophe.
“Uganda, my country is not going to become a gas station of France,” Seguya said. “It is time for leaders to invest in renewables because renewables are our future.” Drawing cheers from the crowd, Seguya added, “We are sick and tired of carbon bombs in our country.”