SALT LAKE CITY — More than 200 students filled the steps of the state Capitol Friday joining many across the country in a global movement of youth activists striking for action on climate change.
Kate De Groote, a high school senior who helped organize the Salt Lake event, spoke to the crowd about the need for all political parties to work together to address climate change, saying it is a human issue.
"We are the generation that will help bring this movement, that started generations ago, to the national stage. We can make a change and I know that we can protect our future if we choose to act now," she said.
De Groote said she was surprised at the number of people who came to take part in the strike, and grateful to see so many young people care about climate change. She said the movement began with just one girl, Greta Thunburg, who started Friday climate strikes in Sweden, and has spread to over 100 countries.
"It’s spread so far, I think it’s absolutely incredible, and it just shows how much climate change does need to be addressed and how unsatisfied we are with what’s currently going on," she said.
The sound system at the strike was powered by volunteers from the crowd pedaling bicycles.
A youth climate strike was also planned Friday afternoon in Provo.
Andie Madsen, a junior at West High School, talked to the students about spreading awareness, saying that the youth voice on the issue is louder than older generations.
"Youth have the most powerful voice in this conversation because it affects us the most. This is our future that we’re talking about, and we need to protect it," Madsen said.
Jolie Cox, Karoline Bushe and Marley Allen missed school Friday morning to participate in the strike, saying they were probably the only ones attending from Davis High School. Friday was the last day of the term, and they planned to return to school in the afternoon to take a test.
"Getting out and making your voice heard is so important," Cox said.
The girls said they plan to take part in more climate events and try to live more sustainably.
Lexus Gill, a senior at Viewmont High, said this is the first time she has participated in an event like this. She heard about the girl who started the strikes and has also seen a lot on social media to make her more aware of climate issues.
"If everyone starts small, it will start to make a difference," Gill said.
The speakers addressed issues specific to Utah, many mentioning air quality problems and the plans for an inland port.
"This port is being built under the guise of economic opportunities when it only really helps the rich get richer, we will not fall for it," said Mishka Banuri, co-founder of Utah Youth Environmental Solutions,.
Banuri said the port will bring in fumes that will increase the risk of lung cancer and ruin wetlands and bird migration patterns.
"Compromise is not an option. We are not young and naive, we are young and unstoppable, we have our eyes and ears on you, we will not be manipulated. The oceans are rising and so are we," Banuri told the crowd.