Hundreds of area students rallied at the State House on Friday to demand tough action to combat climate change before it’s too late.
The protest was part of a coordinated strike that inspired rallies throughout Massachusetts and in more than 100 countries, from the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle.
According to the Massachusetts group’s Facebook page, strikers are calling for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, teamwork from world leaders to ensure global warming remains below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and implementation of the Green New Deal, a decadelong plan proposed by lawmakers.
“Climate change should be the most important,” said Orla Anderson, a sophomore at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. “It’s only going to get worse as time goes on.”
Speakers at the rally said the environment should be a top priority for world leaders right now.
Many of the protesters hailed from Greater Boston and were not strangers to the idea of living environmentally friendly lifestyles. They said many of their friends biked or walked to school.
Annelise Aminoff, a 15-year-old student at Rindge and Latin, grew up with solar panels or local gardens in the neighborhood.
“Protest is a part of the Cambridge culture, especially when it’s about climate change,” Aminoff said.
Aaron Roberts and Jonathan Monderer, two college-aged students home in Andover for spring break, said their status as young adults gives them a unique perspective on this historic moment in the fight against climate change.
“We’ve experienced knowing what the past is like and wanting to improve our future,” Roberts said. “[Adults] don’t really experience what’s going on in the world. Students go out and travel around. They go out into the world and see what’s going on.”
The protest was followed by a panel discussion with state legislators in the Gardner Auditorium of the State House.
After the rally, Amelie von Briesen of Somerville and Jenny Turner-Trauring of Cambridge stood near the State House steps, chatting. They brought their 6-year-old children, who were very excited to come, according to their mothers. Now, the kids were joyously playing tug-of-war with a large stick.
The mothers said they liked to use concrete examples, like polar bear habitat loss or the change in weather, to explain complex environmental policy issues to their children.
“[My daughter] chose to miss school and wanted to come, but the teenagers are really the ones organizing and planning, and that’s great,” Turner-Trauring said. “We support the students who did take time and hope more will come to the next.”
Ysabelle Kempe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Material from The Associated Press was included in this report.