Diocesan News

New Yorkers Join Global Fight Against Climate Change

Students advocating from climate action march from Foley Square to Battery Park in New York City as part of the global climate strike held on September 20. (Photo: Wandy Felicita Ortiz)

MANHATTAN — Global Climate Strike — a gathering of more than four million young people worldwide on Sept. 20 to call attention to the dangers of climate change — was a local event, too, as more than 60,000 rallied in lower Manhattan to voice their support for efforts to curb global warming.

Catholics from Brooklyn and Queens were among those who attended.

“My school does a lot of amazing work on educating us about climate change,” explained Heleana Ryan, a senior at St. Savior H.S., Park Slope, who was inspired by her science teacher to attend the rally.

“If we want our world to continue to sustain and to continue to thrive, we need to start finding new ways to be doing things. We need to stop using fossil fuels, we need to stop ruining our soil with erosion and over-pollution.” 

Students from The Mary Louis Academy, Jamaica Estates, and Fontbonne Hall Academy, Bay Ridge, also came to the rally. Those two schools are led by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood (L.I.), whose Earth Matters Committee helped organize participants.

New York City’s Department of Education, meanwhile, excused students from school to attend the rally if they had parental consent.

The rally came ahead of a youth climate summit at the United Nations and of a climate summit at the annual U.N. General Assembly, during which world leaders met to consider ways to combat climate change.

The youth climate rally on Sept. 20 was largely inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden, who a year ago began leaving school to lobby for climate action in her hometown. Greta traveled by a solar-powered boat to New York City to participate in the strike. In April, she met with Pope Francis.

In Manhattan, the desire of environmentalists to do something drew them to the march.

“Not a lot of people are willing to get down to the nitty-gritty and actually try to do something besides stop using plastic straws,” said Jack Skaggs of Bushwick. “It’s important, it’s the future of our world. I feel like a lot of people support the cause to fix climate change, but they don’t really come out and show their support.” 

“I’m here to support the cause and show that the more people that are here, the more they’ll be affected by the younger generation that is here,” said Maxine Zalewski, a student at John F. Kennedy H.S. in Merrick, L.I. 

Allyson Escobar contributed to this story.