In 25 countries on five continents, the next generation of youth climate activists are participating in the iMatter march
by taking to the streets and to the courts to demand action. Here at It’s Getting Hot in Here, we have seen a youth climate movement explode in Montreal, grow up (quite literally) organizing events like Power Shift, and launching organizations like 350.org
, Summer of Solutions, the Indian Youth Climate Network, and so many more.
Yet, sometimes when the energy starts to flag you look back and realize there is another generation, even younger and with new passion, learning from the tools built by organizations like 350.org
to bring more young people than ever together to take on the climate challenge. Today is one of the those days and I am very excited to welcome a generation of teenagers who have been fighting their whole life as a teenager for action on global warming. Today, the work of one of the these teenagers, joined by hundreds of organizers like himself, has come to fruition at the iMatter March. Let’s hear them in their own words:
“We trust our leaders to protect the planet, but our government is more focused on profits than our futures,” said Alec Loorz, the 16-year-old visionary of iMatter, who has been tirelessly working on the issue of climate change and global sustainability for the past three years. “World leaders aren’t moving fast enough to confront this crisis, so my generation is stepping up to demand progress. It’s not about money or convenience – our future is at stake.”
The iMatter movement has grown quickly because youth worldwide feel the urgency of the crisis and are ready to stand up for themselves. Overwhelmingly the marches have been organized by teens no older than 16, mobilizing for the first time around an issue they know will affect their future. Among the 100+ marches are:
· San Francisco, CA: iMatter founder Alec Loorz will be joined by Ted Turner, Story of Stuff creator Annie Leonard and other teens, parents and grandparents from across California.
· Salt Lake City, UT: A team of high school students and their mentors have announced a marching parade with walking “floats” organized by different groups. When the Utah Department of Transportation imposed stiff fees and unreasonable roadblocks to getting a permit, the kids approached the Utah ACLU to fight these unconstitutional limits on free speech. More at www.imattermarchutah.org
· Kuwait City, Kuwait: The 17 year-old son of an oil executive has organized a march of his peers.
· Munich, Germany: Led by 13 year old Felix Finkbeiner, who leads Plant for the Planet, a non-profit organization of youth worldwide who are committed to planting one million trees per country. Felix and his friends are leading 4 marches in Germany and two in Mexico.
“If we wait any longer to start decisive action against global warming, our children are likely to face drastic consequences,” said Dr. James Hansen, one of the nation’s leading climatologists, who will be joining the Washington, DC march with his grandchildren.
Earlier this week, young people nationwide initiated legal and administrative actions in all 50 states
, the District of Columbia and the federal government to force action on climate change. This effort is the first time climate litigation has ever gone back to the bedrock legal principal that the government must protect the public trust. It’s being led by a high-profile legal team, including former Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey and his firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.
Both the marches and the legal actions are focused on requiring state and federal governments to create “Climate Recovery Plans.” The goal of these plans is to force reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and implementation of reforestation programs that will counter the negative impacts of climate change.
Marches will continue throughout the year with large marches in India, Japan and New York City happening over the summer. Going forward, iMatter will keep young people engaged through social media, direct action and peer education. A new youth leadership team called the Climate Change Council of Youth (C3Y) will focus on creating mini-documentaries with WITNESS.org
and curriculum that highlights how youth in America are impacted by climate change now and what they are doing to bring about change. An mobile app called iMatter, available on iTunes
, and a website
will connect local campaigns and distribute online resources.