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Washington, D.C., August 28 – Youth leaders from around the world have called for a Global Climate Strike and week of action from September 20-27. Youth have led the way so far, but now they are calling on everyone to take action alongside them. In Washington, D.C. we are answering that call in a major way: on September 23, we are going to Shut Down D.C.
While countries deliberate the fate of the world at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, a coalition of climate groups and allies will bring traffic and business as usual to a standstill in the nation’s capital. Parents, workers, students and everyone who is concerned about global heating will skip work and school and put off their other responsibilities to take action on the climate crisis.
The multi-site blockade will shut down key intersections all across the city and demand sweeping action from the U.S. Government to address the climate emergency. The event is a response to youth calls for a Global Climate Strike and will follow a student-led march to Congress on September 20. The Shut Down D.C. kickoff meeting is taking place today at 7 PM at the Friends Meeting House in Washington, D.C. near Dupont Circle. The next meeting will be on September 4 at 6:30 PM at the same place.
“[Politicians] ignore our will as voters, our rallies, our calls to action and even our pleas, so I am no longer interested in asking,” said Kathleen Brophy, who is an organizer with 350 DC. In the past, Brophy has worked with communities affected by oil extraction and witnessed the devastation it had locally. “The severity of the issue and the complete lack of response from elected officials necessitates mass civil disobedience,” she said.
The blockades are being organized by a coalition of activists from different climate and social justice organizations including Extinction Rebellion DC, 350 DC, Zero Hour, Rising Tide North America, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Movement for a People’s Party, Backbone Campaign, Code Pink and the Friends Meeting in Washington Social Concerns Committee.
This spring, more than 1.4 million young people in 123 countries went on strike to demand that governments reverse the climate crisis. This fall, Shut Down D.C. marks the start of an international wave of citywide climate shutdowns on October 7 in London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Amsterdam and New York City.
The Earth’s life support systems are failing as global heating spawns innumerable crises. Millions are facing hunger and migration as their homes sink beneath the waves and farm land turns to desert. Biodiversity is plummeting and ecosystems are breaking down as a sixth mass extinction grips the planet. The oceans are acidifying and disease vectors are expanding. The Amazon Rainforest, which produces 20 percent of the world’s oxygen, is ablaze and nearing a tipping point of cascading collapse. Humanity has never faced a crisis of this magnitude and only immediate and transformative change can ensure our survival.
“Our children are calling to us. We must respond,” said Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, in regards to the climate strikes. Across the world, frontline communities, indigenous peoples, communities of color, and the poor are bearing the brunt of a crisis caused by fossil fuel corporations and politicians. In recognition that decades of petitions, protests and phone calls have been all but ignored by our leaders, the action will use nonviolent civil disobedience to elevate the demands to a level of urgency that matches the crisis.
This September there are over 600 events taking place worldwide in support of the Global Climate Strike, and more than 130 across the United States.