NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tens of thousands of people marched through lower Manhattan on Friday to demand action on climate change ahead of next week’s summit at the United Nations.
Many of the protesters were students. With a parent’s approval, city students won’t get into any trouble for attending. The Department of Education is excusing them from school for the rallies.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the crowd. The 16-year-old is one of 21 other young people who filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government.
She also made headlines by sailing across the Atlantic in a zero-emissions yacht.
Thunberg says world leaders need to listen to scientific reports that include data on rising sea temperatures, which will increase the intensity of hurricanes, like the one that most recently destroyed parts of the Bahamas.
“How we can get more young people involved — I think to just tell them the truth, tell them how it is,” said Thunberg. “Because when I found out how it actually was, that made me furious so I wanted to do something about it.”
Huge crowds formed a sea of people, gathered to march from Foley Square more than a mile down Broadway to Battery Park.
NYCs massive #ClimateStrike march has begun, from Foley Sq down Centre St to Chambers St across to Broadway… and down to the Battery! Thank you @ClimateCrisis and everyone else marching! pic.twitter.com/WUpeRP0ZQS
— Gale A. Brewer (@galeabrewer) September 20, 2019
The future leaders skipped school to demand real action on climate change from those in charge now.
“I shouldn’t have to skip school to make change happen. I’m a child. This should be happening by itself. Not by itself, but by politicians around the world,” said 7th grader Suyana Crespoweil.
“Obviously, politicians and adults aren’t helping out, they’re not doing what should be done, and it’s time now for the youth to step in and we’re really sending a message,” one protester said.
“The climate crisis is the most important issue of our time. We’re seeing that reflected and it being talked about. It’s the number one most talked about issue right now. That’s because it’s pressing. It’s because we’re seeing the effects now, we have a deadline in which we have time to take action,” protest organizer Sophie Anderson said.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) September 20, 2019
PHOTO GALLERY: Students Around The World March To Address Climate Change
Though there were many, one student in particular stood out – 13-year-old Marisol Rivera, the youngest speaker at the strike.
At such a young age, she already has a platform and a voice.
“If we don’t save our planet, we don’t know what it’s going to be like for future generations,” Rivera said.
Rivera’s passion was sparked at just 6 years old when her Brooklyn home was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. She and her mother say their area was not a designated red zone.
“I had no clue what was happening until [the roof] actually crashed into my bed. It was traumatizing for me. To this day, I still will get flashbacks,” Rivera said.
“For her to see that and then now, recently, not too far ago, with the Bahamas, she’s now more in tune and more aware of what climate change really is,” Marisol’s mother, Rachael Rivera, said.
Rivera says natural disasters will only continue to worsen due to climate change, so she joined together with other members of the Puerto Rican community Friday to tell her story and encourage change.
One estimate says at least 60,000 people took part in Friday’s protest.
Here in the U.S., 800 events are planned across the country. Many more took place around the world.