Hawaii students to join nationwide rally in fight against climate change

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Updated: Mar. 7, 2019 at 1:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Young minds are planning to hold a nationwide strike this month in an effort to help fight climate change — and local students say they’re joining the fight.

On March 15, youth from around the U.S. will strike, march and rally at state capitol buildings across the nation. The demonstration is being called the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, a national movement to designed to raise awareness about the severity of climate change and ask for government support.

Organizers of the strike say their list of goals is simple, though admittedly lofty: promote the Green New Deal, a legislative proposal introduced by Democratic lawmakers that calls for a shift towards a sustainable environment and economy; encourage world leaders to declare national emergencies on climate change; and to inspire others to use renewable energy sources.

“We have the momentum right now,” said Haven Coleman, the national co-director of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike and a middle school student in Denver, Colorado. “This is our time that we can take action.”

Coleman says around 10,000 supporters are expected to participate nationwide. Here in Hawaii, several organizations are planning to march at the Hawaii State Capitol at 3 p.m.

Kawika Pegram, a junior at Waipahu High School, is the student organizer for the Hawaii event and is collaborating with groups on Oahu to put the strike together. He’s been working with student governments across the island, along with organizations such as 350Hawaii, the Sierra Club’s Hawaii Chapter and YPDA Hawaii.

When it comes to motivation for creating the event, the students point to a report that was published in October 2018 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that states that the world must continue to work towards preventing a global temperature increase of more than 1.5 degrees celsius.

Otherwise, the planet could face more extreme weather events, and humans could see these effects within the next decade.

The U.S. Youth Climate Strike wants to use that report to motivate America’s youth to reach out to lawmakers, asking them to create laws that ensure temperature rise is slowed.

Pegram says that although there has been legislation to tackle climate change in different states, the laws are not as effective as they should be. Legislative policies such as the Green New Deal outline what needs to be done on a federal level to combat climate change. The policy has many critics, including President Donald Trump.

That isn’t deterring strike participants from showing up.

“We have to speak up now, so that the effects of climate change aren’t exacerbated 10, 20, or even 30 years from now,” Pegram said.

Pegram says it is important for the youth to use their voices in this matter because their generation will have the chance to vote in the next couple of years.

“A mass of youth this involved in their democracy, that are eligible to vote, is a very powerful and influential group of people,” Pegram said.

The movement was sparked by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who protested climate change at the front steps of the Swedish Parliament last year.

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