Ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit and on the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, hundreds of young people are protesting today in NYC, joining similar mobilizations around the world to demand action on the climate crisis.
The NYC protest, organized by the Youth Climate Strike Coalition, is joined by several young climate leaders, including Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who ignited the global Fridays for Future movement. Last week, the NYC Department of Education said that it would excuse absences for public school students who participate in the strike (though teachers are barred from attending, the New York Times reports).
Participants will gather at 11 a.m. in front of the Santander Bank at 336 Broadway for a rally to call attention to Puerto Rico. At noon, the group will move to Foley Square to begin the march near City Hall, and begin walking south on Broadway and Nassau streets at 1 p.m. down to Battery Park, where they will rally until 5 p.m.
Protesters will make three specific demands: ending fossil fuel extraction and consumption; prioritizing frontline communities and workers in transitioning to a 100 percent renewable economy; and holding institutions, countries, and organizations most responsible for polluting accountable (excluding them from decision-making spaces and demanding reparations for climate damages).
New York City is a fitting setting for a larger climate strike, considering how the crisis has impacted the five boroughs. Hurricane Sandy hit the city almost seven years ago and the waterfront communities, particularly in the outer boroughs, are still feeling the effects of the superstorm. More recently, there have been several heat waves, major winter storms, and flooding incidents that have exposed the need to improve the city’s infrastructure to confront extreme weather events.
The city has taken its own steps to address the crisis; in April, the New York City Council passed a group of bills under the Climate Mobilization Act to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
And two years ago, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017—which NYC has deep ties to—leading to major devastation, a large exodus to the U.S. mainland, and an estimated 4,645 deaths. NYC is home to an estimated 1.1 million Puerto Ricans (one of the reasons why Puerto Rico has been called the city’s sixth borough), and following Hurricane Maria, thousands of boricuas relocated to the city and New York state, according to CUNY’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies.
Marisol Rivera, a 13-year-old New Yorker and Hurricane Sandy survivor who had family members in Puerto Rico who experienced the effects of Hurricane Maria, will be one of the event speakers.
“I am striking because of how my life changed after Hurricane Sandy, a disaster fueled by climate change,” Rivera said in a statement. “I know there are people around the world who are suffering and are going through what I went through seven years ago—We can’t leave people suffering, we all deserve to live free of fossil fuels and have a better life. This can happen to the people we know and care for—We all need to fight before it’s too late.”
Visit the Climate Strike website for more information about the protest.