Hundreds of protestors gathered Friday at the steps of the state Capitol to demand Gov. Lamont declare a climate emergency resolution for the state and address the climate crisis.
The strike, organized by the Connecticut Climate Crisis Mobilization, a coalition of over 80 local environmental, community, and religious groups, called on Lamont to focus all state resources to fight the climate crisis to ensure the future of Connecticut residents.
“All residents of Connecticut should have access to clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, health food, open space, and a sustainable environment… for generations to come,” the coalition said.
During the rally, leaders of organizations spoke to the crowd, including Sena Wazer, a 15-year-old first-semester student at the University of Connecticut.
“I am striking because I want to ensure a safe future for my generation and future generations,” Wazer said during her speech.
In an interview before the rally, Wazer said that there was a need for immediate climate action and support from political leaders.
“Our political leaders are not listening to anybody and not taking action,” Wazer said. “We need them to act right now.”
Wazer said that she has been an activist since she was a 5-year-old, inspired by a book about a whale freed after being caught in a fishing net. However, after reading a report released by the United Nations’ intergovernmental panel on climate change, she was shocked to hear that the world has 12 years to accomplish these goals and it inspired her to concentrate on climate activism, Wazer said.
“That was for me the time that I thought this is really serious and this is going to affect the rest of my life, so we need to act right now,” Wazer said.
Moli Ma, a junior from St. Luke’s School in New Canaan and the coordinator for the New Canaan chapter of Sunrise Movement, said that the strike is the aftermath of inaction by adults in power and the realization of young students that they must take action into their own hands.
“[The strike] was the most readily available thing I could do and this is the thing that could make the most impact,” Ma said.
“Today and later on, we are going to have some level of legislative power over the decisions that happen in the Capitol and in our state,” Ma said.
Eliza Kimball, a member of Quiet Corner Shouts!, a grassroots organization in northeastern Connecticut, said that she wants Gov. Lamont to stop the building of the Killingly power plant and wants to see an ash disposal facility in Putnam to close. Both facilities would hurt the environment and people in the area, Kimball said.
“We won’t have any drinking water,” Kimball said.
The strike at the Capitol on Friday was part of a worldwide movement organized by #FridaysForFuture and Global Climate Strike, organizations that seek to bring awareness of the climate change worldwide.
The movement was started by 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist, when she camped out in front of the Swedish parliament for two weeks in 2018. Her protest inspired protests worldwide to demand action on climate change.
This Friday’s strikes were also in anticipation of the UN Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23 in New York.
Carissa Stanio, a senior from Suffield High School, said watching the global youth movement motivated her to attend the strike.
“I heard about this youth movement that’s been going on and I thought it would be a good way to apply what I have been learning and really get involved with is since I am concerned about it,” Stanio said.
After the rally, protestors staged a “die-in” inside the Capitol to represent millions of people in danger if there is no action on the climate crisis.
Jenna Sun, a Suffield High School senior, said that she hopes to see politicians make climate change a priority.
“I hope we keep climate change in the conversation and that we elect more progressive candidates that make it the forefront of their campaigns,” Sun said.
Daniela Luna is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.