How young climate activists in quarantine continue to fight for the planet

In the most bizarre iteration of Earth Day in its 50 year history, teenagers in the climate justice movement reflect on the climate crisis and action in quarantine

“We can’t go back to the days where politicians didn't act on the climate crisis,” says Athian Akec, “we can’t go back to normal because normal was exactly the problem.”

Over the last year, the climate justice movement has hit accelerate – school strikes continued, protests shut down major cities, the climate conversation was gaining ground in political arenas. It felt like this Earth Day, the event’s 50th anniversary, was to be another significant moment in the fight for a world that puts our environment first. With the worldwide coronavirus pandemic though, climate action has been knocked. 

The focus of politics and media has moved to the fight against COVID-19, and mass movements for climate justice can’t gather during lockdown. While there have been some fluffy stories about the world adjusting positively to the lack of human presence – dolphins returning to areas they had previously fled, and clearer canals in Venice – climate change is more urgent than ever. As one UN chief said today, the world is facing “deeper emergency” than coronavirus.

From their homes, the world’s activists are finding new ways to advocate for climate action. Protests are going virtual, activist art is being made, and teach-ins are continuing the important dialogue. In this video, we meet some of the young people embedded in the movement: Lucy Sutton, Famke, and Athian Akec from the UK, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Haven Coleman, and Lana Weidgenant from the United States, Rachel Parent from Canada, and Dietbogo Lebea from South Africa. 

On what is the strangest Earth Day in its 50 year history, these activists from across the world tell us what they’re reflecting on in quarantine. “I’m using the time now to try and redefine or try and restructure how I do my climate advocacies,” says Dietbogo.

 We hear how we must continue to make climate action a priority, how we have to mobilise now and when the pandemic is over. “This virus hits marginalised communities the hardest – the same communities which are suffering first and most from the climate crisis.”

In the video, we hear about the vital need for a Green New Deal – a purpose that would forgo bailing out big corporations and focusing on funding and supporting the most marginalised communities, with the planet in mind.

“As the world currently faces multiple crises, I urge the governments and decision makers to not forget the commitment that they’ve made to enhancing climate action.”

“Now is the time to be motivated and to learn so that we can apply what we learn when we come out of this quarantine, because that will be the most influential time for change.”