Youth in the Seattle area plan to join an international strike from school Friday to demand more government action on climate change.
Their demands, listed on a U.S. organizing website for the movement, include declaring a national emergency on climate change, halting fossil fuel infrastructure projects and approval of the Green New Deal — a nonbinding U.S. House of Representatives resolution that proposes transforming the U.S. economy with the goal of reducing carbon emissions.
Students from King and Snohomish counties who plan to strike will commute to Seattle’s Cal Anderson Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There are other gatherings planned in Tacoma and Bellingham.
American students are following the example of Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, who staged her own school strike in front of the Swedish Parliament building last summer. Thunberg, who skips school most Fridays to protest, started Fridays for Future, a movement that has inspired youth in dozens of countries to regularly skip school to protest.
In the U.S., a student-led coalition called Youth Climate Strike coordinated the mass walkouts on Friday.
To prepare for the Cal Anderson event, student organizers talked strategy and programming over the phone. City officials are expected to speak at the event, said Ashley Lambert, a senior at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek.
Like gun violence, an issue that activated students en masse last school year, Lambert said she sees climate change as another glaring social issue that deserves advocacy.
“I’m taking action for myself and those who can’t,” she said.
Districts in the Seattle area said their attendance policies are the same for this strike and other demonstrations — an unexcused absence, unless a student’s guardian works out an agreement with their school principal ahead of time.
The expected turnout is unclear. As of Thursday evening, nearly 1,000 people indicated on Facebook that they were interested in attending the Seattle strike, and 272 said they were interested in the Tacoma event.
In an email, a spokesman for Seattle Public Schools said the district “was not aware of any organized plans among students in our schools” to walk out. As of Thursday afternoon, only one student had put in a request for an excused absence.