Leaders Respond to Climate Strikes

Benjamin with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner at a September 20 climate strike led by young people. 

On September 20, millions of people around the world held protests to call attention to the threat of climate change. Inspired by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, the protesters urged global leaders to take a more active role in fighting the climate crisis.

I attended the September 20 strike in Houston, Texas, where I spoke with the city's mayor, Sylvester Turner. The event took place a day after Tropical Storm Imelda hit Houston, leading to torrential downpours and an estimated $8 billion in damages. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey battered the city, causing $125 billion in damages. 

“These storms are coming with greater frequency and greater intensity, so we have to do something about it,” Turner said. “For the first time in Houston history, we’re putting together a Climate Action Plan, [which] will be finalized by the end of the year.” 

While we stood just yards away from the protesters, most of them students, I asked Turner how he felt seeing the strikes. “I love it,” he said. “The fact that these climate strikes have been led in large part by these young people is even better.”


In Houston, hundreds of young people gathered to urge world leaders to take more action on climate change. 


In a press release, United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi also expressed support for the student-led climate strikes.

“The voices of millions of young people are filling the streets in communities across the globe, demanding that our governments and industries work together to take decisive action to safeguard our environment and ensure a healthy, sustainable world for our children,” said Pelosi, a Democrat from California. She pledged that Congress would “continue to advance innovative solutions that create jobs and protect our families.” 

French President Emmanuel Macron also promised to take action. “Each week, for months and months now, we’ve had young people speak,” Macron said. “They’ve identified an absolute urgency that we have to respond to.” 

After Greta’s September 23 address at the United Nations, nearly 70 countries indicated support for such initiatives as transitioning to renewable resources and promoting electric vehicles. The Swedish activist and other young people are vowing to keep up the pressure on leaders to ensure a more sustainable way of life. 


Photos courtesy of the author