How a Generation of Young Leaders are Tackling Climate Change through Movements

Following the School Climate Strike that took place earlier this March, students and climate activists are more energized to take on their governments and political leaders to demand for divestments from fossil fuels, an overhaul of their countries’ energy economies to renewables, and a commitment to zero carbon world. Youth-led and -run organizations and movements such as the Zero Hour movement stress the importance of our governments to take action before it is too late, especially for younger generations, to clean up the mess that older generations have bestowed upon them.

Cindy Chung, Co-Head of the Zero Hour NYC Branch, spoke at a Human Impacts Institute and German Consulate General New York co-hosted event on the how to stay motivated when dealing with conservative forces and continue to invest climate action (more on this event here). I had the opportunity to speak to Cindy after the event and connect.

In a summary, the Zero Hour youth have this to say:

“We are frustrated with how special interest politics have stymied legislative progress toward environmental and social justice. Reliance on dirty energy is not only putting people’s future at risk, but also their present. As extreme weather and natural disasters occur more frequently around the world, we are seeing the emergence of a new climate refugee crises and an unprecedented scarcity of resources. Now is not the time for silence; now is the time for action. If lawmakers won’t lead the way on their own, us students are ready to push them. Our demands include a 100% just transition to renewable energy by 2040, to stop the construction of oil/pipeline infrastructure and total divestment from fossil fuel industries.”

As a high school senior, Cindy knows all too well the future she and her generation will inherit if nothing changes, so she joined the Zero Hour movement. In July 2018, the Youth Climate March in NYC was Zero Hour NYC’s kickoff event. Ever since, the organization has collaborated with other environmental justice organizations such as the People’s Climate Movement and 350 Brooklyn at rallies and marches. As the current Co-Head of the Zero Hour NYC Branch, she leads a committee council of youth leaders, as well as dozens of active volunteers youth between the ages of 12-18 years old, speaks at events, recruits young people who are tired of inaction from our government, and organizes Zero Hour events to advocate for climate action at the regional level.

Cindy (right) supporting the People’s Climate March in October

In the coming months, Cindy and the Zero Hour NYC team plan to expand to a wider platform and reach thousands of new individuals through a NYC youth climate festival in the spring/summer. At this large-scale event aimed to target thousands individuals in the city, Zero Hour NYC plans to make their demands heard and let local politicians know that the youth will be a guiding and leading force on the political battlegrounds.