| By Caroline Chomanics
This holiday season, as anticipation of frantic consumerism swells, climate activists have one goal in mind: striking to save the planet. The Fridays for Future movement has become ubiquitous over the past year, coined after the teenage icon Greta Thunberg, who skipped school on Fridays to demonstrate a peaceful protest against human-caused global warming. Her message was resolute yet simple: World leaders and fossil fuel magnates who show a tin ear to environmental disasters need to take climate change seriously.
Since Thunberg’s initial sit-in outside the Swedish Parliament, millions have taken part in the largest ongoing climate strike in history—advocating for a zero-carbon future. September’s protests drew more than seven million people worldwide. And this November, rather than ransacking sale bins on Black Friday, thousands of youth protesters marched through the streets, trumpeting their fears of climate change.
Hoping to build off this momentum, regional activists will return to Orlando City Hall, recycled signs in tow, on Dec. 6, from noon to 3 p.m. The first protest, organized by IDEAS For Us, an Orlando-based nonprofit that cultivates local sustainability, took place in September, and saw roughly 300 strikers.
This week’s protest, also organized by IDEAS, will aim to call attention to the House Bill 97/Senate Bill 256 petition, which proposes a demand for 40% renewable energy by 2030. The bill, filed by state Rep. Anna V. Eskamani and Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, also requires that by 2050 the state will transition all its electricity to 100% renewable energy. Not surprisingly, electricity stands as the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in Florida. This is the Sunshine State, after all.
“Florida is at a pivotal moment in taking on the climate crisis and has the opportunity to finally set a 100% renewable energy goal,” said Eskamani in a press release. “This—combined with energy efficiency goals—is instrumental to crafting a new clean energy economy, one that moves away from fossil fuels and toward a more sustainable future for all.”
Given its geographic location, Florida also bears some of the most noticeable effects of warming temperatures: hurricanes, extreme heat, floods, shoreline erosion, sea level rise. In addition to campaigning for HB97/SB256, supporters of the December protest will have occasion to air other demands, such as passing SB318—which will ban the sale of sunscreens that contain chemicals deadly to coral reefs—passing SB40 to prohibit plastic carryout bags and straws, and urging U.S. government to declare a climate emergency.
December’s demonstration, along with hundreds of youth strikes around the world, will coincide with the COP25 environmental summit that will take place in Madrid from Dec. 2 to Dec. 13.
“Environmental change is not possible without strength in numbers,” said chief administrative officer of IDEAS, Caroline Chomatics, to Orlando Weekly. “And in Orlando, we are gaining those numbers to call for climate action in Florida.”
To RSVP and learn more about Orlando’s Dec. 6 Fridays For Future Global Climate Strike, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/379176266318541/.
Sign the House Bill 97/Senate Bill 256 petition here.
Whether or not you’re able to participate in December’s protest, it’s vital that all of us come together to put pressure on lawmakers. Here’s a full list of our climate action demands.