Coalition calls on Vermonters to join the Climate Strike

A group of students and parents gather outside the Brattleboro Union High School before the start of classes to join a global movement "Youth Climate Action" on Friday, March 15, 2019.

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BRATTLEBORO — Local environmental advocates are joining a coalition of Vermonters in events and political actions later this month in response to appeals from Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg and the youth climate movement.

September's climate strikes continue a worldwide campaign by schoolchildren calling on adults to step up, speak out, and do their share to protect current and future generations against the worst impacts of global warming. Thunberg, who recently journeyed to the U.S. on a solar-powered sailboat and who will speak to a United Nations climate conference of Sept. 23, started the movement by skipping school on Fridays to protest inaction on climate change.

As part of this movement, the Vermont Strike Coalition demands the following: Comprehensive and immediate solutions rooted in the respect for and dignity of all people; support for just policies that transition rapidly to a clean and renewable energy economy for all; a commitment to keeping fossil fuels in the ground; and a just and inclusive movement that centers frontline communities.

"Vermont has always been a leader in the climate movement, and we're heeding the call of concerned youth. We need Vermonters to step up and demand action to protect us and our children," said Abby Mnookin of 350Vermont, one of the organizations in the climate coalition. "With eight days of actions, we're kicking it into high gear and asking Vermonters to go on strike Friday the 20th. If they can't strike all day, they can temporarily walk out from their workplaces and schools to join a local event and demand action on climate change."

The main event is a walkout of students from Brattleboro Area Middle School and Brattleboro Union High School. The groups will walk to Pliny Park, where there will be speeches, chanting and singing until 1:30 p.m. There will also be a Write for Climate at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center at 10 Vernon St., from 9 to 11 a.m.; and Non-Violent Direct Action training at Centre Congregational Church, 193 Main St., from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Other Vermont activities planned for Sept. 20-28 are: Distribution of large public banners about climate change around the state; a direct action targeting one of the few remaining coal plants in the Northeast; as well as film screenings, worship services, a healing walk at The Manitou Project, electric bike demos, critical mass bike ride, and more.

Among the Vermont organizers of strike-related activities is Extinction Rebellion Vermont.

"The damage to the Bahamas caused by Hurricane Dorian and our government's coarse response to the plight of Bahamians are more examples of the devastating impacts of climate change and the ineffectiveness of our political leadership to properly respond to the needs of people on the front lines of the crisis. As these storms are made worse by the manufacture and burning of fossil fuels, it is critical to transform our society into one that is compassionate, inclusive, sustainable, equitable, and connected," said Dan Batten of Extinction Rebellion Vermont.

Organizations providing financial support include 350.org, Seventh Generation, Ben & Jerry's, Sierra Club, Chelsea Green, SunCommon, Front Porch Forum, Eco-Equipment Supply, and Chroma Technology.

For more information on the upcoming events, visit www.vermontclimatestrike.org/events/list.

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