A year ago, youth from across the country rallied in the pouring rain to demand elected officials break ties with the fossil fuel industry and preserve their future
DHARNA NOOR: The Zero Hour Youth Climate March in Washington, D.C. was organized by young people to demand decisive action on climate change.
JAMIE MARGOLIN: I’m 16. I’m under voting age. So I don’t get to decide what the politicians back there, who they are and what they do. But I get to pay the biggest consequences for their actions.
DHARNA NOOR: Actions were also held in other cities. But organizers traveled to D.C. from all over the country. Speakers included some of the young people who organized the march.
NADIA NAZAR: We will not be known for our tall skyscrapers, landing on the moon, or building walls. We will only be known as the cause of the extinction of everything on this planet.
DHARNA NOOR: Youth from Standing Rock.
SPEAKER: In Standing Rock, where I live, we’re still fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline every day. It’s a crisis. I don’t know whether or not the pipeline will break. And when it does, it’s ten minutes away from getting into my school; 15 minutes away from contaminating my home water system.
DHARNA NOOR: And a young D.C. resident.
HAVANA EDWARDS: I’m here to make sure the adults making the laws think about us, too. Malala said, even if I am a girl, even if people think I can’t do it, I should not lose hope. For all the kids out there listening today, we got this.
DHARNA NOOR: Almost all scientists agree that climate change is human-caused, and that if we don’t reduce fossil fuel emissions drastically in the coming decades, some even say altogether, we will usher in catastrophic effects like unprecedented sea level rise and extreme weather.
KIBIRITI MAJUTO: We will be still alive 50 years from now. Will there be food? I look at how many wars will there be? Because when people stop fighting for fishing, food, like, I just-. It’s foreshadowing, like how would the future look like. It’ll be like Mad Max.
DHARNA NOOR: Protesters say world leaders have failed to take the necessary steps to protect the planet. Their demands include reducing emissions by 10 percent every decade. The organizers were energized by the Trump administration’s climate denial, but the White House is not their target.
JAMIE MARGOLIN: Trump is not our our target. He’s just one guy who everyone focuses on. But he is a lost cause. He’s going to be gone soon. And it’s like, this problem was before him, and it’s going to come after him.
KIBIRITI MAJUTO: We could get Trump out of office. But the people in power, like the senators, the representatives, are the ones literally in the hands of fossil fuel powers. It’ll be great to get Trump out of office. But that wouldn’t be enough. We actually aren’t addressing the problem of, like, campaign finance.
DHARNA NOOR: Earlier this week, key members of Zero Hour held a lobby day in Washington, D.C. They met with just under 40 elected officials, and aim to get as many officials as possible to pledge to not accept money from fossil fuel industries.
JAMIE MARGOLIN: We’re asking leaders to divest from fossil fuels, and promise the young people that they are going to be taking proper action around the climate crisis by not taking money from fossil fuels. So we passed our fossil fuel pledge along, and our leaders are going to be looking at it and hopefully signing it.
DHARNA NOOR: Zero Hour was inspired by the Women’s March, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the March For Our Lives. Their platform highlights those most severely impacted by climate change, including the Global South, poor people, people of color, indigenous people, and other marginalized groups.
KIBIRITI MAJUTO: The best way to address climate change is going to address- starting off with who’s mostly impacted by fossil fuel industries.
DHARNA NOOR: And they say this march is just the beginning.
SPEAKER: Because this isn’t just the beginning of one march. This is the start of us taking control of our future.
DHARNA NOOR: For The Real News, with Jaisal Noor and Uruj Sheikh, this is Dharna Noor.