Young people rally at climate protests around the world

Jerome Foster II.
Jerome Foster II. (Rachel Ramirez/CNN)

Youth climate activists marched in New York City today to call for climate justice and to put an end to the burning of fossil fuels. 

As strikers made their way down to Lower Manhattan’s financial district, stopping New York City traffic, the bustling streets filled with chants like “sea levels are rising, so are we,” “Keep that carbon in the soil,” and “There’s nothing natural about natural gas.”

The path followed the same route as 2019’s larger climate strike when Greta Thunberg made an appearance. Among the faces in the march toward Battery Park, where the crowd heard from speakers and musicians, were prominent youth activists such as Alexandria Villaseñor, Jerome Foster II, and Jamie Margolin. 

Alexandria Villaseñor, right.
Alexandria Villaseñor, right. (Rachel Ramirez/CNN)

Villanseñor told CNN her goals have evolved since she started striking at 13. She has been striking every Friday in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York since December 2018 until the pandemic lockdowns began.

“The movement has really changed in the past year or so,” she said. “The climate crisis is continuing to get more urgent. In the latest UN climate report that came out in August, the language changed to more be urgent, saying that we are already impacted, and that now we just have to mitigate. It was prevent before, but now we have to mitigate.”

Foster, currently the youngest member serving on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, told CNN he was wearing red to represent the findings of the landmark UN state-of-the-science report on climate change, which has been called a “code red for humanity.”

“Our demands have changed. We’re not just kids that are just out in the streets anymore, we now in positions of authority,” he said. “Now we’re being taken seriously, we have a seat at the table, we’re gonna make sure that everyone in that table understand the pressing urgency and take action.”

Jamie Margolin.
Jamie Margolin. (Rachel Ramirez/CNN)

Margolin, co-founder of the climate organization Zero Hour who joined the movement in 2016, was also wearing red to represent a world on fire. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest, which this summer experienced a record-shattering heat wave that scientists say would have been “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change. 

“It’s been such a long journey, and it’s really overwhelming in a good way to see such joy ands resilience right now because it’s been such a dark time for so long,” she told CNN. “Online activism is just not the same, especially with so much climate disasters happening.”