These Students Are On Strike… For The Climate

Community. And local action.

This is how Emma Galbraith and Matthew Kim fight off the climate scaries.

You know the feeling. That scary, depressed, funk that is so easy to fall into when reading article after article about how bad climate change really is.

“I don’t lie about this,” Emma said in an interview with AEN. “It is big. It’s the biggest problem that humanity has probably ever faced. Period.

Because it’s not just about saving the planet… but it’s also about saving humanity, like, literally from extinction. And that is a big deal. And it’s a huge problem. And the concern that you can’t do anything because it’s such a big problem is completely valid.”

But that’s not how Emma and Matthew see it. They are high school students and climate justice activists who are helping to organize an Austin Climate Strike on Friday, September 20th at the Texas State Capitol building.

The strike is part of a global movement (inspired in-part by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg) to demand urgency in dealing with the climate crisis.

It was seeing the work of Greta, who first gained attention by skipping school to hold up a sign outside of the Swedish Parliament building calling for climate action, and other young people like her all over the world, that inspired Emma and Matthew to get involved as well.

“This kind of thinking worldwide has really inspired me to try and work locally,” Matthew said.

“I have real power in that small a community,” Emma added, noting that the local work has made her realize that she really can affect change. “And that if we all put our power into our own communities, we can basically cover the entire planet.”

Student Strike
Local students preparing signs for the upcoming Austin Climate Strike

Want to join Emma and Matthew for the Austin Climate Strike? Here’s how you can get involved.

On Friday, September 20th everyone is invited to strike/walk out of their job, school, etc at 9am and then head to the Texas Capitol building. After that, this is the schedule:

  • 10am – People will begin to gather outside of the capitol building. Organizations in support of climate action will have informational booths set up so attendees can learn more about how to get involved.
  • noon – 1pm – A series of speakers (including high school students and community members) will be talking about the importance of climate action. (If you’re not able to strike, Emma and Matthew recommend that you come out to hear the speakers during your lunch hour.)
  • 1pm – 3pm – People will continue to hang out on the lawn of the capitol building, meeting with others and playing music

Got it. So what exactly are the goals of the strike?

In general, it’s to call on our city and state leaders to start treating climate change like an emergency and to start acting quickly.

More specifically, the strike organizers have put together a list of the following five demands:

  1. The City Of Austin MUST divest all monies from the fossil fuel industry by 2030.

  2. The Lower Colorado River Authority and Austin Energy MUST close Fayette Coal Plant.

  3. The State Of Texas MUST declare a climate emergency plan with real teeth.

  4. The City Of Austin MUST close Austin Energy’s coal and natural gas plants by 2025 and provide workers with just transitions and training to jobs in renewable energy.

  5. The State of Texas MUST promise to have 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2050.

Emma and Matthew are also quick to point out that the strike is just the beginning. They are the cofounders of the Austin Climate Coalition, an intersectional network of faith communities, organizations, small businesses, creatives, and Texas youth taking a stand against the roots of the climate crisis. Matthew is also a founder of Students For Climate Action ATX, which mobilizes students to engage elected officials to act on climate.

They encourage anyone who is concerned about the climate crisis to follow the Austin Climate Coalition and Students For Climate Action ATX on Instagram to stay up-to-date on new ways to get involved.

 

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“We can’t afford to wait on action out of fear that our actions will never solve anything,” Emma said. “Because we won’t know what happens until it happens. And so we might as well just dive into it and start looking at what the issues are in our community that affect us personally.”

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