In response to appeals from Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg and the youth climate movement, a broad coalition of Vermonters is planning dozens of events and political actions this month.
Large public rallies in Burlington, Middlebury, and many other towns on Friday, Sept. 20 will be part of a day of climate strikes and walkouts at schools and businesses in Vermont and around the world.
Hazel Civalier, a junior at Champlain Valley Union High School, spoke of the need for “stopping business as usual. We, the youth of today and tomorrow, deserve a future where we can hope for more than survival, and an education that will prepare us to continue the work of creating it.”
September’s climate strikes continue a worldwide campaign by schoolchildren calling on adults to step up, speak out, and do their share to protect current and future generations against the worst impacts of global warming. Greta Thunberg, who recently journeyed to the U.S. on a solar-powered sailboat and who will speak to a United Nations climate conference of Sept. 23, started the movement by skipping school on Fridays to protest inaction on climate change.
With this current climate crisis and with the call to action voiced by youth globally in mind, the Vermont Strike Coalition demands the following:
• Comprehensive and immediate solutions rooted in the respect for and dignity of all people.
• Support for just policies that transition rapidly to a clean and renewable energy economy for all.
• A commitment to keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
• A just and inclusive movement that centers frontline communities.
“Vermont has always been a leader in the climate movement, and we’re heeding the call of concerned youth. We need Vermonters to step up and demand action to protect us and our children,” said Abby Mnookin of 350Vermont, one of the organizations in the climate coalition. “With eight days of actions, we’re kicking it into high gear and asking Vermonters to go on strike Friday the 20th. If they can’t strike all day, they can temporarily walk out from their workplaces and schools to join a local event and demand action on climate change.”
The Sept. 20 rally in Burlington will begin at noon at Burlington City Hall, 149 Church Street. Along with other strikes on the 20th, Vermont activities planned for Sept. 20-28 are:
• An action against fossil-fuel lobbyists;
• Distribution of large public banners about climate change around the state;
• A direct action targeting one of the few remaining coal plants in the Northeast; and
• Musical performances, worship services, a tour of a regenerative agriculture farm, and more.
For info on the dozens of upcoming events, see www.vermontclimatestrike.org/events/list.
Among the Vermont organizers of strike-related activities is Extinction Rebellion Vermont. “The damage to the Bahamas caused by Hurricane Dorian and our government’s coarse response to the plight of Bahamians are more examples of the devastating impacts of climate change and the ineffectiveness of our political leadership to properly respond to the needs of people on the front lines of the crisis. As these storms are made worse by the manufacture and burning of fossil fuels, it is critical to transform our society into one that is compassionate, inclusive, sustainable, equitable, and connected,” said Dan Batten of Extinction Rebellion Vermont.
Organizations providing financial support include Seventh Generation, Ben & Jerry’s, Sierra Club, Chelsea Green, SunCommon, 350.org, Front Porch Forum, and Eco-Equipment Supply.
Actions and organization details
The climate strike and week of action in Vermont are being organized by the statewide coalition and other grassroots activists as well as students from schools around the state. Here are some of the supporting organizations:
• Champlain Valley Democratic Socialists of America
• Climate Disobedience Center
• Climate Economy Action Center of Addison County
• EnACT at Champlain Valley Union High School
• Extinction Rebellion Vermont
• Sunday Night Environmental Group at Middlebury College
• Sunrise Movement Burlington
• Sunrise Movement Middlebury
• US Youth Climate Strike VT
• Upper Valley Affinity Group
• University of Vermont Youth Climate Summit
• Vermont Natural Resources Council
• Vermont Public Interest Research Group
• Vermont Youth Lobby
(See vermontclimatestrike.org for other groups).