Chicago’s young people are ready for the Global Climate Strike

On Friday, we’re asking adults to join us and disrupt the business-as-usual politics that have brought us to the brink of climate catastrophe.

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Teen Activist Greta Thunberg Joins Climate Strike Outside The White House

Students participate in a strike to demand action on climate change outside the White House on Sept. 13, 2019.

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

On Friday, the youth of the Chicago area will be on strike. We will not be going to school. We will not be going to work. Instead, we will be in the streets to demand a future worth going to school for.

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Scientists agree that we have only 10 years left to act on the climate crisis. If we fail, we will risk the lives of every person on this planet, as well as the extinction of most species.

That makes climate change the biggest threat faced by all humanity. The climate crisis threatens the global economy, the lives and health of billions of people, world peace and political stability.

It threatens my future and my ability to achieve my dreams. I am the child of immigrants, and my parents worked so hard to find a better future for my brother and me. Now, there’s a chance that we won’t even have one. I have big dreams, and I fear that I won’t ever be able to realize them.

Here in the Chicago area, the climate crisis is already causing severe weather changes, disrupting daily life. Over the winter, we experienced a polar vortex, forcing many schools, including my own, to close for several days.

My parents could not go to work. Most of the local businesses, including where I work, were closed, losing days of revenue in the process. As climate change progresses, weather extremes like these are only going to become more common.

We know governments won’t deliver climate action and justice on their own. We’ve watched them stall on aggressive policy for our entire lives. So we’re going on strike to show them what people power is capable of.

Youth around the world just like me have been striking from school to bring attention to the climate crisis because we deserve a future safe from climate catastrophe.

Now, for the first time, we are asking adults to join us. By striking in solidarity with youth climate leaders, adults have the power to disrupt the business-as-usual politics that have led us to the brink of climate destruction.

In Chicago, we’ll be striking for the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). Chicago has committed to 100% renewable electricity by 2035, an important first step, but we need to do more.

Illinois has the potential to be an environmental leader on the national level while our president and his allies continue to prize money over our futures.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act is by far the strongest bill on climate we’ve seen so far in Illinois, and it has the potential to drastically improve the path we are going down.

CEJA invests in solar panels, wind turbines and public transportation. Not only does it increase jobs in the clean energy sector, fueling the economy, but it also puts our state on track to be carbon-free by 2030 and on completely renewable energy by 2050.

Governor J.B. Pritzker has stated his commitment to renewable energy and we need to see him act. It’s critical that this bill passes as soon as possible. Every second we lose threatens our survival.

On Friday, people across the world will walk out of their schools and workplaces to join youth climate strikers in the streets.

If you think young people like me deserve a safe and stable future, visit to learn more, and join us at 11 AM at Grant Park to march to Federal Plaza for Chicago’s Climate Strike.

Jessica Sun Li is the Illinois Youth Climate Strike Creative Director at Libertyville High School.

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