Youths in Princeton join others from across the globe for action on climate change

Students and adults rally at Hinds Plaza in Princeton for Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20.
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Students and adults rally at Hinds Plaza in Princeton for Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20.

Princeton students took time off from school and work to demand action on climate change as part of a global climate strike.

Students ranging from elementary through college aged, as well as adults, gathered to show support for climate action during the climate strike in Hinds Plaza in Princeton on Sept. 20.

“We have been planning this since mid-August. It was a slow start then we got a coalition of students together and took off from there,” said Naomi Cohen-Shields, senior at Princeton University and one of the organizers of the rally. “This has been a lot of outreach and coordinating with different groups on campus and in town. This truly has been a group effort.”

Students and adults did not just rally in Hinds Plaza they also marched from Hinds Plaza through downtown and onto the campus of the esteemed Princeton University.

“It was crucial to have the voices of the Princeton High School and middle school students present today. Having them out here in the community makes all the difference,” Cohen-Shields said. “They really rally a lot of energy and are role models for the rest of us.”

Organizers said the goal of the rally was to make the Princeton community a part of the global strike and show how important action on climate change is to those in the Princeton community.

“Climate change is not being addressed even in the slightest in the way I would like to see. I think action on climate change is gaining attention in the media,” Cohen-Shields said. “I personally believe this is about systemic change and I think that is going to take a lot more grass root action. There is a long way to go, but I think it has to happen quickly.”

About a hundred individuals participated in the strike, as they held up handmade signs and voiced several chants. The day’s rally and march also featured speakers, calls to action, and even poetry.

“I think climate change is one of the most important crises going on today. Climate change is not just affecting us in Princeton but affecting everyone globally,” said Zahra Lohoue, a 13-year-old from Pennington who is a climate activist. “For today’s strike, I think all those that came out are contributing in such an amazing way.”

She said over the last year she has been participating in more events to raise awareness on the need for climate action.

“I think as we grow up climate change is the issue. It was just an easy decision to be here today, our school even gave us an excused absence for this,” Lohoue said. “I think the youth is going to be key in continuing on this movement. We need to get together as a community and try to find what the core problem is when it comes to climate change.”

The rally and march were part of a global movement involving young people that spanned across 150 countries.

The global protests came on the heel of a United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept. 23. Global leaders met at the summit to discuss concrete plans on how to address the global climate emergency, according to United Nations officials.

“I think globally climate change is real for people right now. Everywhere around the world people are feeling the effects now,” said Manny Ramirez, a senior at Princeton University. “The leaders we have now in many countries around the world refuse to even hear the screams of people being affected. In terms of this local strike, I think it was key to have a local branch of this global climate strike.”

According organizers of the Global Climate Strike, the people in the Princeton strike were a part of an estimated 4 million people across the globe who took the time to rally and march for the global climate strike on Sept. 20.