Thousands of students across the U.S. were expected to stage school walkouts on Friday, joining peers around the world to demand action on climate change.
Max Prestigiacomo, 17, who is organizing a demonstration in Madison, Wis., said there was a real disconnect between what was being taught in the classroom — that climate change poses an existential threat — and how politicians were reacting.
“The political climate in the States right now is doing nothing,” he told NBC News during a telephone interview. “They’re bargaining with our future.”
School strikes organized by U.S. children and teens in almost every state call for the implementation of the Green New Deal, a plan championed by Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that would implement a complete transition to renewable energy by 2030.
Similar strikes are planned in nearly 100 countries.
The goal to reduce carbon emissions is in line with a 2018 special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that warned global carbon emissions had to drop 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 to avoid devastating consequences for the planet.
Recognizing these risks could take hold within her lifetime, Swedish teen Greta Thunberg decided to take matters into her own hands. After skipping class to protest outside the Swedish parliament last fall, she addressed the United Nations Climate Change conference in December and won the attention of political leaders and her peers worldwide.
Thunberg’s Fridays for Future weekly school strikes have inspired thousands of students to hold demonstrations across Europe and further afield — from Uganda to Australia.