A Gen Z of climate activists turns up the volume - Activate World

A Gen Z of climate activists turns up the volume

The climate is the focus of a series of events in New York City this week, and a new generation – Gen Z – of climate activists are expected to take center stage. Forums include the Global Youth Strike for Climate on September 20, Youth Climate Summit on September 21, the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23, and the 2019 Climate Week in NYC.

For the Global Climate Strike on September 20, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Lush Cosmetics are closing in support of climate activists and encouraging their employees to participate. Seventh Generation is donating its Today Show commercial airtime this week to environmental nonprofits.

Lunchtime Conversations:

  • As a business leader, are you giving team members the go-ahead to participate in the climate strike? If not, why?
  • For the first time, the United Nations is holding a Youth Climate Summit. Can youthful determination make a difference and change the course of our future with climate change? 
  • In the last decade, solar energy prices have dropped nearly 90%. Wind power has become almost 70% cheaper. Can a real political commitment to climate actions unleash the entrepreneurial spirit to create the 100% clean future? 


  • Greta Thunberg led a protest at the White House recently. But she wasn’t looking to go inside — “I don’t want to meet with people who don’t accept the science,” she said. “I think you have an enormous responsibility” to lead climate efforts, she adds. “You have a moral responsibility to do that.”
  • “They’re bold and unapologetic, and they’re not swayed by the same kind of politics that older people are,” says Thanu Yakupitiyage, head of U.S. communications for 350.org.
  • The Covering Climate Now initiative includes more than 250 publications worldwide that have committed to covering climate change this week. Participating publishers like Variety, Vice and Teen Vogue, as well as newspapers from over a dozen countries on every continent except Antarctica, will reach a combined audience of over 1 billion people.


With a show of solidarity, brands “disrupting” their usual business operations hope to solidify their values and identity in the minds of consumers, a tactic expected to grow in relevance in the face of climate change. 

Climate and sustainability are increasingly playing a role in how brands manufacture their products and communicate with consumers.

Attending the Global Climate Strike will be 16-year-old, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg whose battle cry, “Act like our house is on fire,” is forcing the world to pay attention. 

Her fame has grown steadily, thanks to the clear terms in which she speaks about why people — particularly young people — must pay attention to Earth’s climate. She gave a TED Talk about the issue last November; one month later, she made a powerful speech at a U.N. climate change conference in Poland.

In the U.S., the youth-led Sunrise Movement spurred the CNN candidate town hall after the Democratic National Committee decided not to have a climate debate. In the U.K., youth activists motivated parliament to declare a climate emergency. They say they’re fighting for a livable future and with life-or-death directness, their message is resonating in ways it hasn’t before, despite denial, apathy, and flat-out disinformation campaigns. 

According to a statement by UN secretary general António Guterres, the ultimate goal of the Climate Action Summit is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. More immediately, the goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent in the next 12 years, in an effort to hold increases in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Sources: Adweek.com, Environmental Defense FundNPR, Outside

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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