Georgetown University students and campus sustainability organizations joined thousands of young activists protesting the effects of climate change in the Washington, D.C. iteration of the first ever Global Climate Strike last Friday, Sept. 20.
The D.C. Global Climate Strike included protests outside the Capitol building, with protestors holding signs to bring attention to the severity of the climate crisis. Around 50 Georgetown students attended the strike on Friday, according to Georgetown Renewable Energy and Environmental Network’s Environmental Justice Team co-leader Lucy Chatfield (COL ’22). GREEN and GU Fossil Free advertised the event to the Georgetown community by collaborating to create posters for the rally prior to the event.
Mass demonstrations such as the Global Climate Strikes help show how millions of people are passionate about addressing climate change, according to Chatfield.
“The climate crisis is so daunting, and it’s so easy to feel, as an individual, that there’s nothing you can do about it,” Chatfield wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Participating in mass mobilizations like these is how I stay optimistic, because I know there are millions of others fighting alongside me.”
Given the long-lasting impacts of climate change, attending the strike helped emphasize how much advocacy and action is needed to properly address the climate crisis, according to GUFF core member Juliette Leader (SFS ’20). (Full disclosure: Leader is a former member of The Hoya’s editorial board).
“Climate change is an issue that will be irrevocably intertwined with our lives for decades to come and will touch on every aspect of our lives,” Leader wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It was a reinvigorating experience that reminded me of how justified we are in demanding climate action now and how important our work is.”
The Global Climate Strike occurred in the midst of the Climate Forum 2020 hosted at Georgetown featuring 12 presidential candidates on Sept. 19 and 20. The two-day forum provided candidates with the opportunity to hear student concerns about the climate crisis while proposing their own climate change policies.
Both the Climate Forum 2020 event and the Global Climate Strike brought awareness and urgency to the climate crisis, according to Citizens’ Climate Lobby President Laura Rockefeller (SFS ’22).
“The forum and the protests are both so important in making climate a visible, visceral issue,” Rockefeller wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The Global Climate Strike included participants, largely students and other young people, in more than 150 countries who protested to demand more governmental action on the climate crisis. The strike on Friday was the first of many protests happening throughout this week in light of the United Nations Climate Action Summit meeting in New York City on Sept. 23.
The D.C. Global Climate Strike included multiple youth speakers highlighting their concerns with the climate crisis. Hearing young voices talk about the negative consequences of climate change on their futures resonated with Georgetown students, according to GREEN’s Environmental Justice Team member Grace Katz (COL ’23).
“My favorite part was when they had the speakers,” Katz said. “They had one little boy who was a part of the movement suing the government for the air quality in their city, and this 12-year-old boy spoke about how he wants to have a future and that really hit me hard.”
As a part of the series of climate change protests this week, demonstrators in the Capitol Hill area of the District blocked traffic on Sept. 24, shutting down several road intersections as a part of the “Shut Down D.C.” initiative. The event led to the police arresting 26 protesters, according to The Washington Post.
The attention that large protests like the Global Climate Strikes draw highlight the younger generation’s responsibility to bring awareness to resolving urgent climate change problems, strike attendee Trey Di Bona (SFS ’23) said.
“I hope it convinces people of the immediacy of the problem,” Di Bona said. “It’s something we’ve been putting off for half a century now, and it’s not something we can put off any longer, and I think it sends a pretty strong message that it’s our generation’s duty to fix it.”