A group of youth hunger strikers outside the White House in Washington, DC is making waves at COP 26 in Glasgow, calling on President Joe Biden to deliver on his country’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 50 to 52% by 2021.
The hunger strike began October 20, and by Monday, four of the five strikers had withstood health challenges to carry it into its 13th day, reports ECO, the daily COP newsletter produced by Climate Action Network-International.
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“The strike follows a week during which thousands of Indigenous leaders, faith and racial justice leaders, and climate advocates peacefully marched the streets of Washington, DC, to protest Biden’s loyalty to fossil fuels over people,” the newsletter states.
“We have abused Mother Nature for too long, our communities are hurting,” declared 26-year-old Kidas of Dallas, Texas, who said he joined the hunger strike to fight for those who died during the Texas ice storm and cold snap earlier this year. “I do not want this Earth to die the way I already see my neighbourhoods suffer every day.”
“Abby, 20, is from Pennsylvania, and last week bravely confronted U.S. Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, who receives income from the coal industry and whose state is a top coal and dirty gas producer,” ECO adds. Manchin, who has spent months stalling climate and social equity legislation now before the U.S. Congress, “had the audacity to claim that the U.S. has done more than any other country on climate. Abby told him he was wrong and the U.S. needed to meet its commitment, which will be difficult to do without Congressional action.”
In Toronto yesterday, ClimateFast staged a one-day hunger strike outside the U.S. consulate in solidarity with the Washington, DC protesters.
In news coverage leading into the COP, CBC pointed to cooperation across generations as one of the cornerstones of a successful response to the climate emergency, citing one researcher who said people in younger generations are “wired” to fight for change.
“Young people are literally wired to challenge the status quo, to think outside the box,” said Ilona Dougherty managing director of the Youth and Innovation Project at the University of Waterloo. “Their brains are really amazing and they have a lot to offer us.”
But Dougherty’s look back at the last 35 years of youth movements convinced her that adults have a role to play, as well. “Intergenerational collaboration is key,” she told CBC, adding that the connection between young people and adult decision-makers is “where the magic happens”.
“I would really urge adults who feel jaded, maybe, or indifferent to the crisis, to see that young people are doing this out of a sense of fear,” added Shakti Ramkumar, director of communications and policy with Student Energy. “And also because we have hope that we can build systems that are so much better than this, that can be better for all of us.”