University of Connecticut students have started a chapter of Fridays for Future, an international environmental student movement dedicated to holding governments accountable for addressing climate change.
“I hate apathy,” Kelly Rafferty, seventh-semester English major and Fridays for Future president, said. “We can be radical, we can enact change, we can speak truth. Ecological collapse ends with us.”
Luke Anderson, seventh-semester anthropology and nutritional science double major, said he had also been involved in the early stages of the creation of the chapter, helping organize remotely and recruit members. He is currently studying abroad at Lund University in Sweden, the country where the school strike movement began.
Anderson credited the irresponsible industrialization of developed countries with creating the environmental abuse we see today. He also stressed the importance of international cooperation in the fight against climate change.
“Our abuse of the environment is rooted in the global period of industrialization and colonization,” Anderson said. “Until we address that, we can't expect any solutions to last."
Anderson also recently participated in a mass demonstration of students who blockaded the entrances to a harbor to protest the planned extraction of fossil fuels.
This week on Friday, Sept. 20, Fridays for Future will hold a climate strike on Fairfield Way as part of the Global Climate Strike.
Rafferty has played an integral part in the organization of the strike at UConn.
“We initially thought it would be extraordinary if 10 people walked out of class. Now we have hundreds of interested students,” Rafferty said.
Students will meet Friday morning on the green outside of the Student Union to listen to guest speakers.
Strikers will march to Gulley Hall to present the goal of the strike, which is to create a carbon-free global economy. The resolution calls for governments to curtail expansion and investment in the fossil fuel industry while increasing the use of renewable energy and improving transparency.
UConn students will be joined by thousands of other activists in universities and cities across the world.
There are over 2,400 events planned globally, and events in over 145 cities in the U.S. taking place during the week of Sept. 20 to Sept. 27, according to the Fridays for Future website.
These strikes are intended to put pressure on government leaders who will be attending the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on Monday, Sept. 23.
Fridays for Future was born in the summer of 2018 when Greta Thunberg, then a 15-year-old student, skipped school and sat outside of the Swedish Parliament in protest, according to the Fridays for Future website. Thunberg refused to leave until the Swedish government reduced carbon emissions to a level recommended by the Paris Climate Agreement to keep global warming under two degrees Celsius.
Thunberg’s protests have inspired students across the globe to leave school and criticize government inaction on climate change. Over 1,600 strikes were held in around 105 countries on March 15, 2019, according to The New York Times.
Her passionate grassroots protest has made her an internationally-recognized climate activist and earned her a strong following on social media. Thunberg has over three million Instagram followers and over a million followers on Twitter.
She will speak at the UN Emergency Climate Summit in New York on Sept. 23 after a two-week trip by boat from Plymouth, England to New York, according to her Instagram page. She no longer flies due to the high amount of carbon emissions produced by airplanes.
Kobe Amos is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org