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Strike on Friday to push for urgent climate change action

Strike on Friday to push for urgent climate change action

On Friday, young people and adults around the world will leave their school and work commitments to gather together to demand their governments take more urgent action to address climate change.

The Global Climate Strike stems from the “Fridays For Future” movement started by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who inspired millions of young people around the world when she started skipping school on Fridays to protest her country’s political leaders’ lack of urgency in addressing the climate crisis.

Inspired by Thunberg’s action, other young people around the world took to demonstrating on Fridays and in May young people held 2,300 coordinated school strikes across 130 countries. Friday’s event encourages adults to join in the action, and kicks off a week of demonstrations and events to raise climate change awareness ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23.

According to the U.N., the goal of the summit is to “boost ambition” and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement, a 2016 pact that seeks to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

To date, 186 parties have ratified the agreement, including most of the world’s industrialized nations. Though the United States was one of the original signatories of the agreement, President Donald Trump announced in 2017 that he would pull the United States out of the agreement, a move that will be formalized in November 2020.

More than 2,500 events across 150 countries are scheduled for this Friday, and there are several planned in Connecticut.

The CT Climate Crisis Mobilization, a coalition of 80 organizations, will hold an event Friday from noon to 3 p.m. on the Bushnell Park side of the Capitol in Hartford. The event will feature a lineup of speakers from various organizations, followed by unannounced “special actions,” and a letter delivery to Gov. Ned Lamont.

Sena Wazer, 15, of the Storrs section of Mansfield, is one of the youth organizers of the event.

Wazer is a freshman at the University of Connecticut, after having been home schooled and then completing her high school coursework through a program at Manchester Community College.

Wazer said there are several goals for Friday’s action, including calling on Lamont and the state legislature to declare a climate emergency in the state and to commit to leading an emergency mobilization effort to end climate-polluting emissions in the state.

Though Lamont recently signed an executive order to ramp up the state’s efforts to address climate change — which includes directing the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to evaluate ways to achieve a 100 percent clean energy grid by 2040 — Wazer said the state needs to be more aggressive in its approach. She pointed to the 2018 report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that concluded the planet will reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels benchmark by 2030.

“Based on that report, we have 11 years left,” she said.

Wazer said she doesn’t know how many people will attend Friday, but said she’s heard from a number of students planning to come. She said she hopes the breakdown of young people and adults will be evenly split.

Officials from Manchester and Enfield public schools said they don’t have any sanctioned plans for students to attend any climate strike events Friday, nor were they aware of any students planning to do so on their own.

The group 350 CT has said it plans to attend the Hartford event, following its regularly scheduled protest outside the governor’s Executive Residence at 990 Prospect Ave. in Hartford over the building of the NTE Energy Center, a natural gas-fired electric generating facility in Killingly.

Other Connecticut events include an event scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Willimantic section of Windham, at the corner of Jackson and Main streets opposite the Frog Bridge.