Temple students join in ‘climate strike’ in Center City

Leaders at the protest called on state legislators to embrace renewable energy during the school day Friday

Thousands of demonstrators wielding signs with slogans like “The oceans are rising and so are we” and “Don’t be a fossil fool” congregated at City Hall to participate in a strike to raise awareness about climate change on Friday. 

The Pennsylvania chapter of the Youth Climate Strike and the local Sunrise Movement organized the Philadelphia “climate strike,” which accompanied other strikes around the world in almost 185 countries including Japan, Germany and Kenya, the Guardian reported.  

Protesters urged Pennsylvania legislators to embrace the Green New Deal and convert Philadelphia to entirely renewable energy through chants, signs and speeches.

Sabirah Mahmud, the state leader of the Youth Climate Strike Coalition and a student at the Academy at Palumbo high school in Philadelphia, warned the crowd that if action isn’t taken soon, Philadelphia will begin to feel the effects of climate change just like Bangladesh, her second home. 

“Earlier this year I attended a teen science cafe at the Penn Museum,” Mahmud, 16, said during the speech. “There we looked at a map that showed the City of Philadelphia and where it would be in the next ten years. I saw most of South Philadelphia, the entirety of the naval base, and the airport underwater.” 

Some Temple students were among those standing in solidarity with the protest at City Hall. 

“I’m here because [climate change] is the most important issue for me,” said Jordan Cazden, a senior English major. “And government inaction on it is criminal, and they’re not going to do anything unless we show up.”

This spring, Temple released an updated sustainability plan aimed at reducing carbon emissions at the school by 80 percent by 2050. The university had successfully reduced net greenhouse gas emissions for its U.S. campuses by seven percent from 2006-2018.

City Councilperson Helen Gym also spoke at the protest. She was impressed with the youth activists who attended the strike and promised to fight for a Green New Deal in Philadelphia.

“I want to have no question that there is a fight for our lives and money has a lot to do with it,” Gym said during her speech. “On one side are the lobbyists and climate change deniers who would sell us fake science, who would destroy our environments, silence our voices, and violate fundamental human rights, all in the name of obscene profits.” 

Gym also promised a signed note for any student who was cutting class to attend the climate change strike. 

Temple’s Young Democratic Socialists of America partnered with Philly Democratic Socialists Local Initiative Local Action Committee to attend the strike, said Maxime Delafosse-Brown, a junior political science and history major and member of the club at Temple. 

“I want to show solidarity with all the students coming out to march for the future,” Brown said.

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