LOGAN – Millions of people demonstrated around the world Friday demanding action on climate change and urging lawmakers to create polices to help save the planet ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York next week.
Rallies to open the “Global Climate Strike” took place in 110 towns and cities across Australia.
More than one hundred students, faculty and staff held signs and umbrellas at a wet and rainy rally on the Quad at Utah State University.
Organizer Rachel Chamberlain was disappointed there weren’t more people at the strike, but the rain and cold weather did not dampen her spirit or message.
“We need the state, city and the government at large to take action towards becoming carbon neutral,” said Chamberlain. “Whether that be through switching to clean energy or making dramatic policy to make initiatives that people and businesses will switch to.”
Will Munger, a Climate Adaption Science major, led the group in song. “People going to rise like the water. Climb this crisis down,” the crowd sang.
A Swedish teen is driving the strike movement. Greta Thundberg began weekly demonstrations in August 2018. She told a United States House committee this week, “I want you to unite behind the science and then I want you to take action.”
“This movement has been very good about sticking to the science,” according to USU Associate Professor of Professional Practice in the Dept. of Physics, Robert Davies.
Davies, who studies global change and joined the strike, referenced HCR 7 – Concurrent Resolution on Environmental and Economic Stewardship passed by Utah lawmakers in 2018. The resolution encourages the responsible stewardship of natural resources and reduction of emission through incentives and support of the growth in technologies and services that will enlarge the economy.
“Here in Utah, we need to follow up on that with aggressive steps to move us as a society away from fossil fuels,” he said. “We all agree that Utah can play a role in solving this problem if we decide to do it.”
Krystan Morrison is a senior at Logan High School and attended the event. Her close friend was one of those students leading the charge behind HCR 7. “I thought us high school kids having that kind of impact was huge,” she said.
Morrison is the president of the Logan Environmental Action Force (LEAF) at Logan High School and she hopes to continue lobbying lawmakers for change.
“As a group, we look at legislative bills going through the senate. We look at things like the carbon tax or incentivizing the use of renewable energy and using our power as students. We lobby just to get these bills passed and it’s worked in the past,” Morrison stated.
Logan City Councilman Herm Olsen encouraged those at the rally to register to vote. He spoke briefly to the crowd and received the biggest cheers when he mentioned that lawmakers in the valley are developing a recycling plastic program to reduce or eliminate single use plastic bags.
“It makes a mess of our community,” said Olsen. “These guys (city council) will listen when you yell loud enough.”
Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who helped inspire today’s rally, is expected to speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit on Monday. According to a report in the Associate Press, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, will be pressuring countries to promise to reduce carbon pollution even more than they did in the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement. These next steps weren’t due until 2020, but Guterres wants them earlier and he wants them to be harsher. Essentially, he’s hoping that by mid-century the world will be adding no more heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere.
Hundreds of businesses, cities, states and organizations will also be at the meeting to pledge their own pollution cuts and offer financial help to poorer nations trying to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources. He said the idea is to come out of the summit, not with all problems solved “but with enhanced momentum.”
On Monday, leaders from across the world will gather at the Climate Action Summit in New York. The U.N. chief wants the world’s carbon pollution to be cut by 45% in the next decade.
At the U.N., all eyes will be on President Donald Trump, who is planning to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement. He has yet to commit to speaking at the climate part of the U.N. meeting, while other leaders such as France’s Emmanuel Macron have, the report stated.