What are Climate Activists Doing During the Pandemic?
By Manroop Bains
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, schools have closed and many have also had to cancel events, especially climate activists. Climate activists made the hard decision to cancel their Earth-Day protest in April 2020, but that doesn’t mean they can’t spread or share their ideas.
Many have resorted to using phone banks, social media, etc., bringing awareness about climate change and what we can do to lessen the effects. and after the media was brought to the attention of the police killing of George Floyd, activists have also started to make an effort towards fighting racism and police brutality. Another major reason why activists are also fighting for the rights of black people to be exercised because climate change and racism intersect. For example, South Louisiana has a large black community, some of which are either at or below the poverty line and it is also a hub for hurricanes(which is an effect of climate change), during hurricane season, residents are forced to leave and go to shelters, not knowing if their homes are destroyed. Climate activist organizations, like the Sunrise Movement, have encouraged others to (safely) attend Black Lives Matter protests and spread awareness. They have even gotten involved in politics.
The Sunrise Movement has pressured Democratic leaders to pass the Green New Deal, a proposal to get the United States to stop using fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. During the 2018 midterm elections, the Sunrise Movement urged young activists to vote for candidates who supported the usage of renewable energy. As a result, there was a 20% increase in the number of young voters(ages 18-29) in the midterm elections(compared to the number of young voters in the 2014 midterms).
Rose Strauss, a former organizer for the Sunrise Movement, and a couple of other activists worked together to create the Down Ballot Disruption Project. This program educates young voters about voting in local elections and how to form a community centered around their activism, which is held completely over Zoom. According to Strauss ”, Young people can change this election in massive ways. The only arena right now... is social media...We really need to make sure that the politicians that get elected this cycle are going to be the ones that really care about our future.” Another climate justice organization, Zero Hour, worked with the National Children’s Campaign and created the Vote For Our Future Campaign. Their original plan was to do a bus tour in March, but they canceled due to COVID-19, and now they are hosting virtual events to discuss how the Green New Deal would look like in some communities. ” We want climate change to be a top priority on people’s minds when they go to those polls in November, because of the way it will impact people of color and people living in those cities,” as stated by Zanagee Artis, the co-founder and deputy director of digital advocacy for Zero Hour.
Despite climate advocacy primarily being on social media, Greta Thunberg’s organization, Fridays For Future(FFF), is holding a global climate strike on Friday, September 25th, while still accommodating COVID-19 conditions. The FFF’s organizer for New York City, Spencer Berg, claims that protesters want to advocate for a “green recovery” and make sure that New York City “upholds their commitment to fighting climate change.” Berg stated “,Coronavirus has inspired a lot of people because it has shown us that the government can act quickly and efficiently to quell a crisis...coronavirus showed us that we can have complete systemic change if we need to.”
Climate change is a problem that will affect this entire planet and its inhabitants. If nobody advocates for change now, there might not be another opportunity to do so. The only solution to climate change at this moment is to pass laws that will stop the usage of fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.