This December, young people throughout New York City once again walked out of their classes as part of a world-wide climate strike. They gathered at City Hall to call on our elected officials to take bolder and faster action on the climate crisis. The strike coincided with the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 25) held in Madrid, Spain, at a time when global greenhouse gas emissions are at a record high.
Ludovica Martella, speaking on behalf of the youth-led organization Zero Hour NYC, took to the podium at the New York climate strike to give voice to the communities fighting for environmental justice that are among the most affected by the fossil fuel industry. A researcher and reporter, Ludovica is a student in Sustainability Strategies at the Milano School, as well as a 2018 graduate of The New School’s Master of Arts in International Affairs program. Her message: The fossil fuel industry is destructive to the Earth itself and extremely detrimental to the physical and mental health of vulnerable indigenous peoples, lower-income communities, communities of color, and other underserved groups.
Making the connection between fossil fuel divestment and environmental justice was new to some listeners and resonated with them. Ludovica asked the youthful crowd to engage in clean energy projects in their local communities and to be careful of false solutions of divestment, such as carbon offsets, which contribute to the displacement and land grabbing of indigenous people.
Ludovica took note of the adults in the crowd, some holding “I’m striking for my 8-year-old” signs, and teachers supporting their students’ walkout. She ended by telling the strikers, “We, as a collective, can make a difference. You are not alone. Just look around you.”