A Fight for the Future
Earth Day is April 22, but young activists are working for climate justice every day—in the streets and in the courts.
Leonardo Munoz—VIEWpress/Corbis/Getty Images
Activists in New York City took part in a worldwide event called the Global Climate Strike on March 3, 2023. This was one of many ways in which young people have demanded action on climate change.
On March 17, 2023, young climate activists—many in their teens—gathered outside the Vermont State House. The activists demanded that state lawmakers pass the Affordable Heat Act, a law that would make it more affordable for Vermont residents to switch to heating and cooling systems that produce fewer carbon emissions. But their goals went beyond this single piece of legislation. The protesters wanted state lawmakers to address the climate crisis.
“I’m here alongside my fellow students continuing to demand real, impactful climate action,” said 14-year-old Miriam Serota-Winston, according to VT Digger.
All over the country, teens are fighting to save the planet from the effects of climate change. They protest outside lawmakers’ offices. They march in the Global Climate Strike, a once-a-year day of worldwide youth protests established by young activist Great Thunberg in 2018. They even file lawsuits against governments.
In fact, young activists have sued several state governments, as well as the U.S. government. Their complaint is that governments aren’t prioritizing the climate, and that the climate crisis violates the right of the people to live in a clean and healthy world.
It’s not an easy fight. Judges have thrown out some of the lawsuits. In one case, Juliana v. United States, 21 young people sued the U.S. government in 2015. Five years later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed the case. The court said it agreed that the climate crisis is threatening the future. But it said the activists should take up their complaints with presidents, governments, and lawmakers directly instead of using the court system.
But setbacks haven’t discouraged young climate activists. They’re filing new complaints and appealing court decisions. Climate action will continue. Activists say their very future depends on it.