The 2019 United Nations General Assembly will meet in New York City to discuss climate policy reform during the Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23.
Preceding the summit, a Youth Climate Strike will take place worldwide, with a local strike at noon in front of the Memphis City Hall Friday, Sept. 20, to protest current climate policies and advocate for both domestic and national reform.
The strike is organized by the University of Memphis chapter of the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) in partnership with the nationwide conservationist group The Sierra Club and Climate Reality, Al Gore’s climate reform project.
PSA President Jojo Sigala said there had been some misunderstanding on what the strike is and that people are supposed to leave work.
“When you leave work, you start to get massive amounts of people going and your employers will start noticing. It’s a tactic to get more attention on the issue,” Sigala said.
The Youth Climate Strike has over 2500 events planned in more than 150 countries Friday. Sigala said the Memphis protest is expecting between 100 to 500 people to attend. The demonstrations are organized primarily by youths, but attendance is expected from people of all ages.
“I don’t like comparing things in that one group should be doing more than the other,” Sigala said. “But I do feel like the responsibility does fall on youths. It’s our generation and our grandchildren that will suffer.”
Several UofM students said they are concerned about the growing climate change problem.
“I feel like nature is a part of me and people aren’t respecting it,” Said Jordyn Dixson, a 21-year-old Chinese international trade major. “It makes me really, really angry. I think if enough people would protest, it would help a lot because the government would see there are people concerned about this.”
While there is a constant flow of media regarding climate change and global warming, other students feel they do not know enough about the issue.
“It’s obvious we have a pollution problem. If you look at any major ocean it’s just full of trash which continues to wash up on beaches,” said Sloan Maxwell, a business information and technology major. “We are destroying the planet at a very fast rate. I wish I had more information on it, but I am undoubtedly concerned.”
The general purpose of the worldwide event is the same, but each city has its own varying needs.
“For Memphis, we really need to get our recycling plants, Memphis Area Transit Authority and emissions in order,” Sigala said. “Really, we’re just pushing for the politicians to put the environment first on their mind before they sign off and do things for the sake of saving money.”