If the past is any indicator of the future, thousands of young people will flood the streets of downtown Portland on Friday, aiming to raise awareness and call for action on the growing impacts of climate change.
This Youth Climate Strike, which begins with a protest at Portland City Hall at 11 a.m., will be slightly different this year from the previous three, with a focus on maintaining momentum in the spring and summer,” said 16-year-old Adah. Crandall, one of the organizers.
“Our leaders and elected officials will use the Youth Climate Strikes as a one-day opportunity to say they care about this movement and say they care about climate action, and then fail to follow through because nobody pays that much attention,” said Crandall, a sophomore at Grant High School in northeast Portland. “We’re trying to be more intentional about our ability to have the required network of partnerships to bring this months-long season of action to a successful conclusion.”
Organizers have also become more specific in their requests and reviews this year. They ask public officials to sign a pledge pledging not to take money from fossil fuel companies, to oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure, and to “defend young people’s right to a safe and sustainable climate while throughout their lives”.
“We want to make sure they’re going to follow through on their bill and keep their word,” said Maia Lippay, another organizer and 15-year-old sophomore at St. Mary’s High School. “They’re not just going to say, ‘Oh, how inspiring,’ and then move on. They will be held responsible. »
The companies, organizations and agencies the strikers hope to see held to account include four of what the strikers have targeted as the region’s biggest “climate villains” – NW Natural, Zenith Energy, the Portland Business Alliance and the Oregon Department of Transportation. Strikers say all four are helping or have thwarted efforts to limit the impacts of climate change.
“Our city needs to recognize the companies that are doing the most harm to our environment and stop them from continuing to harm our communities,” said Jacob Glass, a junior at Ida B. Wells High School. “We’re out of time.”
Oregon has seen its share of weather-related disasters in recent years. The 2020 Labor Day fires destroyed thousands of homes, mostly in southern Oregon, and killed eight people. Nearly 100 people died in the state when temperatures soared in June 2021, hitting 116 degrees in Portland and breaking records across the region. In recent years, many parts of the central and southern parts of the state have experienced an extension of drought conditions.
The disasters of the past few years are part of the reason Crandall hopes Friday’s strike will be a chance for older people to engage in a movement that in the past has been mostly focused on younger generations.
“We have already started to see the impacts of the climate crisis,” she said. “It’s not just something that happens in the future. It’s not just something future generations are going to have to deal with.
After the rally, protesters plan to cross the Willamette River to Revolution Hall, where a “Climate Festival” from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. will feature music, speakers and booths from local rights organizations.
Crandall said protests, social gatherings and upcoming events would be posted on a website, Oregon Climate Action Hub.
“We see this strike as a starting point,” she said, “rather than an end.”
– Kale Williams; [email protected]; 503-294-4048; @sfkale