NYC students join worldwide climate protests



John Englart | Flickr

Zena Mohamed

Students across New York City crossed the Brooklyn Bridge holding up signs and voicing their concerns about government inaction regarding climate change.

The demonstration was one of many youth protests that erupted around the world on March 25 in response to the ongoing climate crisis. The movement called on leaders to take action and acknowledge the effects that global warming poses on future generations.

The gathering on the Brooklyn Bridge was organized by Fridays For Future, a youth-led organization that has inspired millions to protest against local governments and city halls to bring awareness to the climate crisis.

The initiative began in 2018 after Greta Thunberg led a school strike in the weeks before the Swedish election, calling on the government to adopt climate policies that were in-line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Students stood in front of the Swedish parliament every day for three weeks in protest, eventually creating the hashtag “#FridaysForFuture” and in turn sparking a worldwide movement.

There were over 700 strikes worldwide that took place on March 25 in an effort to fortify a proposal that would distribute climate reparations to groups at the highest risk from the effects of climate change. Students came together at Borough Hall around 1 p.m. and began to walk toward Brooklyn Bridge at 1:45 p.m.

The protesters in New York City demanded an end to the construction of the North Brooklyn Pipeline.

The pipeline, which is also known as the Metropolitan Natural Gas Reliability Project, goes seven miles through East Williamsburg, Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville, neighborhoods that are predominantly home to Black and Hispanic residents.

Activists have opposed the project from the onset, arguing that it perpetuates the city’s history of environmental racism. Fossil fuel infrastructure would inevitably result in an increase in carbon emissions, further inducing the effects of climate change by contaminating the air.

Asthma rates in Black and brown communities have skyrocketed over the years due to the implementation of such environmental undertakings like the North Brooklyn Pipeline, according to Bushwick Daily.

The Sane Energy Project, a grassroots coalition advocating for community-controlled renewable energy,contends that the pipeline would cause gasoline prices to increase and will have a hazardous impact on the residents of the neighborhoods it runs through.

Various cities around the world expressed their own local concerns, as well as their frustration with the lack of global coordination and action to tackle climate change.

Activists in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital that some estimates predict will be submerged by 2050 due to rising sea levels, dressed in red robes and held placards that stated “system change not climate change.”

Young protesters in Feni, Bangladesh, stood in waist-deep water, with one boy holding a sign that read: “Like the sea, we are rising.”

“Climate reparations are the compensation that the Global North must pay the Global South for the destruction they have caused through huge carbon emissions,” Farzana Faruk Jhumu, a Bangladeshi climate activist, said.

In New York City, local lawmakers have yet to respond to the youth-led protest calling for more climate action.

“Our neighborhoods in Brooklyn have always been dumping zones,” said Pati Rodriguez, a community organizer with Mi Casa Resiste, a group resisting gentrification and displacement that is based in Bushwick. Despite the negligence at the local government level, Rodriguez noted communities like Bushwick “are our neighborhoods that we’ve stewarded.”

The construction of the seven-mile pipeline is halted at the moment due to the outcry displayed by demonstrations, as well as the project having its own internal difficulties. The construction, however, may resume at any time,which is why activists are collectivizing now.

Although the New York City chapter of Fridays For Future does not have any upcoming events listed on their website, the first youth-led protest supported by the organization in years is likely the beginning of greater plans.