Emory students, alumni and faculty gathered on Cox Bridge on Friday to participate in a global strike to demand action on climate change. The strike was part of a youth-driven global movement with an estimated 4 million participants, likely making it the largest global climate protest in history, according to USA Today.
Over the course of the event, protestors marched, made posters and listened to speeches from campus leaders. The event co-sponsors, including the Emory Climate Organization, Emory NAACP, Greeks Go Green and the Global Health Organization, were all given the chance to speak about the importance of environmental change.
Co-President of the Climate Reality Project Emory Chapter Ben Levitt (22C) said he is optimistic that the strike will “bring together people from diverse backgrounds at Emory in pursuit of a common goal, which it to take climate action and pursue justice for all.”
“I hope this is the beginning of a sustained student effort to call for climate action,” he said.
Emory Climate Analysis and Solutions Team (ECAST) Co-President Emily Strahan (20G) emphasized how people’s experiences with climate change can differ drastically depending on various socioeconomic factors, citing developing islands’ continuous struggles with natural disasters.
“One of the biggest injustices is the climate burden,” Strahan said. “Developed nations are producing a lot of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, and vulnerable low-income developing countries are experiencing the brunt of impacts.”
ECAST also urged the protestors to cast their votes in the November 2020 Georgia Senate election, saying that the upcoming election would be crucial to creating meaningful, systemic change.
The Emory NAACP chapter spoke on the ways in which capitalism has led to the exploitation of the environment and the people that inhabit it.
Emory NAACP President Timothy Richmond (20C) explained that water contamination, mortality rates and increasing records of asthma are all valid examples of how climate change “disproportionately affects people of color or underprivileged people.”
“When you look at it that way, its a global public health issue,” Richmond said.
Danielle McKee (21C), who attended the event, stated that effective climate change can only be achieved through intersectional change.
“We need to see how anti-blackness is interwoven into the capitalist system,” Mckee said. “Toxic coal plants are big businesses that have denied people safety rights and human rights. … Many of these people [in these environments] were black and brown. If we want to attack climate change, we need to address every facet of it.”