Here's What Protesters at the New York Climate Strike Had to Say

Author: Joe McCarthy

Anna Watts for Global Citizen

More than 4 million people in an estimated 165 countries attended the Climate Strike on Sept. 20 to call on world leaders to meaningfully address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The global movement was spurred by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who began skipping school on Fridays more than a year ago to urge Sweden's government to enact bold climate policies. 

In New York, the crowd was dominated by high school students who led chants, hoisted creative signs, and called on local leaders to make climate change a legislative priority. 

They were joyful, fearful, and reflective. They expressed a fiery impatience with governments and deep knowledge of the issues at hand. The science explaining the phenomenon of climate change has been available for decades. Why, they wondered, has so little been done?

Global Citizen caught up with some students and activists who attended the New York strike and asked them about how they got involved in this movement and what they hope for the future. 


Watts_190920_6937-2.jpgRodeyna, a student, at the Global Climate Strike demonstration in New York City, on Sept. 20, 2019.
Image: Anna Watts for Global Citizen

“Last year I took an environmental class and it helped me learn about the climate issues going on.

"By changing our daily lives, we can change the world. We can start with simple solutions like deciding not to take a car one day, conserving resources that are non-renewable, shopping locally and supporting local businesses.

"Government can also set regulations on businesses on how much resources they’re using and how much they pollute.” - Rodeyna.


Watts_190920_6916-2.jpgMartin, a student, is photographed at the Global Climate Strike demonstration in New York City, on Sept. 20, 2019.
Image: Anna Watts for Global Citizen

“I don’t want to worry about my future and plan ahead of time with limitations I have to make for myself just because the world is on fire." - Martin, NYC student 


Watts_190920_6886.jpgAlbert, a student from Montreal, Canada, is pictured here at the Global Climate Strike demonstration in New York City, on Sept. 20, 2019. Albert participated in the strike with Ashley, a fellow student from Montreal.
Image: Anna Watts for Global Citizen

“This is a global issue. There’s really no borders, we’re all gonna be impacted by climate change." - Albert, student from Montreal


“We need a concrete plan that will really reduce emissions for the Paris accord and go much harder. We need radical transformative change. We need to stop all fossil fuel projects. It’s ridiculous that governments are trying to expand pipelines.” - Ashley, student from Montreal


“The government needs to be put in charge to stop these companies.”  - Eliza Lox, NYC student


“I think that this is more important than school for the same reasons that Greta gives — we’re not going to have a future if we keep destroying the planet.” - Kareena Gandhi, NYC student


Watts_190920_6855.jpgSyreh Scott (R), a clean water activist from New Jersey, is photographed at the Global Climate Strike demonstration in New York City, on Sept. 20, 2019.
Image: Anna Watts for Global Citizen

“I have a 16-year-old daughter. I want her to be able to live n a world where she’s safe, not breathing in toxic things and can ultimately live a fulfilled and healthy life. We need to be able to provide a safe environment for them to thrive in.” - Syreh Scott, a clean water activist from New Jersey


Watts_190920_6871.jpgKacy Moscovitz, a student, pictured at the Global Climate Strike demonstration in New York City, on Sept. 20, 2019.
Image: Anna Watts for Global Citizen

“I live on the water so I see plastic floating on the bay everyday. Older people and older generations aren’t gonna be here but us, our children, we will be affected.” - Kacy Moscovitz, NYC student


Watts_190920_6867.jpgMaxine Zalewski, a student, pictured at the Global Climate Strike demonstration in New York City, on Sept. 20, 2019.
Image: Anna Watts for Global Citizen

“It’s something I fear greatly. I’d like to have a future, I’d like to be able to pursue a career. We need a regulation on how much the huge corporations can pollute.” - Maxine Zalewski, NYC student


Watts_190920_6865.jpgJackson, a student, is photographed at the Global Climate Strike demonstration in New York City, on Sept. 20, 2019.
Image: Anna Watts for Global Citizen

“Climate change is a perfect example of something that can be fixed and an example of human ignorance and the lack of responsibility in our governments. It's so preventable. We know how to do it and we’re just not doing it.” -  Jackson, NYC student


Watts_190920_6768.jpgVictoria Bogdan Tejeda, an environmental lawyer with nonprofit EarthJustice, is pictured at the Global Climate Strike demonstration in New York City, on Sept. 20, 2019.
Image: Anna Watts for Global Citizen

“I’m here to support the students who are out here striking. Their generation will bear the brunt of the impacts and I’m so inspired to see people care and humbled to be able to help. We need to put pressure on elected officials to make climate change central in whatever they do.” - Victoria Bogdan Tejeda, environmental lawyer with the legal nonprofit EarthJustice


Watts_190920_6807.jpgChristine Tylee, an environmental activist from New York, is pictured at the Global Climate Strike demonstration in New York City, on Sept. 20, 2019.
Image: Anna Watts for Global Citizen

“I’m here for the health of our future, my future children, and the animals that are here with us. Like Greta said, inform yourselves and be aware of the issues we’re facing and take action, whether that’s changing your diet and going vegan or talking to your local township to change policies. The more people do that and you have a ripple effect.” - Christine Tylee, an environmental activist from New York 


Watts_190920_6824.jpgNick Leone, a student, is pictured at the Global Climate Strike demonstration in New York City, on Sept. 20, 2019.
Image: Anna Watts for Global Citizen

“I feel like I don’t have a choice as a fellow earthling. We all have to come together. The rate at which the earth’s temperature is changing is far exceeding expectations. I’m especially nervous about my future children saying, ‘Why didn’t you do something?’” - Nick Leone, NYC student


Watts_190920_6813.jpgTasmia (center) is pictured at the Global Climate Strike demonstration in New York City, on Sept. 20, 2019.
Image: Anna Watts for Global Citizen

“We need to see change. Instead of just saying they’ll [take action], they [leaders] need to act upon it.” - Tasmia, NYC student