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Home POLITICS Around the world, students are ready to occupy campuses for climate action

Around the world, students are ready to occupy campuses for climate action

A few months ago, Omar Elsakhawy was finishing high school in Orlando, Florida. He hadn’t heard of Fossil Free Penn, and he certainly hadn’t anticipated spending hours speaking, writing speeches, and occupying the central green space at his new school to demand action against it. climate crisis. Now, she takes the helm at a press conference with vigor, pointing her megaphone in the face of the tight-lipped administrators standing in the edge of camp at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Community control! No oil, no coal!” Elsakhawy yells into a megaphone. He paces back and forth through a widening circle of students and onlookers framed by painted cardboard signs, half a dozen tents, and a banner with the words “PENN FOSSIL FREE” under a bright orange X. . “When we are under attack, what do we do? Do?” Elsakhawy cries. “Get up and fight!” the crowd echoes.

Fossil Free Penn is far from alone: ​​It’s just the first of dozens of youth-led organizations occupying college campuses to demand an end to college investment in fossil fuels. Over the summer, students from around the world connected with End Fossil, an organization that coordinates indefinite occupancies of educational institutions beginning this fall. The expected setback will ensure students have a long semester. Fossil Free Penn members have already faced intimidation from school administrators and campus security, bolstered by the crushing weight of the fossil fuel industry. But the movement spans four continents and hundreds of student organizers, each with their own specific demands for the school to move forward. climate justice.

“The internationalist perspective is one of the essential parts of social movements and the climate justice movement,” says Matilde Alvim, a 20-year-old climate organizer and student in Lisbon, Portugal. Alvim has been advocating for climate action since high school, when she participated in Fridays for Future, an international school strike started by Greta Thunberg. She was drawn to climate activism in 2018 when hundreds of protesters demonstrated against oil and gas exploration in Portugal.

“[My advocacy] it evolved from oil drills to a more systemic perspective. ‘What is climate justice and what needs to change in the system?’” says Alvim. Portugal is a small country, but its students should not be underestimated when it comes to climate justice, he explains.

In January 2022, Alvim planned an international conference of climate activists in Lisbon with climaxwhere the group connected with young climate leaders from around the world. The activists put their heads together and came to two conclusions: the climate justice movement needed to scale up fast, and this could only be done with a sustained and replicable form of protest.


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