Activists gather for global climate strike at Texas State Capitol

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Fernando Acuna

Climate activist Emma Galbraith was one of the students attending the strike. “My name is Emma and I am on strike today because I love life, I love walking on this planet, I love breathing clean air, I love drinking clean water," she says.

“We are here because the climate crisis is a threat to our existence” said Climate Strike organizer and high school student Emma Galbraith as she spoke to a sign-wielding crowd of students and supporters. Last Friday, Sept. 20, many students walked out of their classrooms in Austin in solidarity with other students who are doing the same for climate justice around the globe.

Austin students occupied the Texas Capitol steps, where speakers, performers and organizations advocated for fighting the climate crisis. A few of their demands included: calling for Austin Energy’s natural gas plants to close by 2025, providing workers with just transitions and training for renewable energy jobs, Texas adopting 100% renewable energy and electricity generation by 2050 and for Texas to declare a climate emergency plan in order to recognize that the climate crisis is a legitimate threat. 

Students from Austin High who are a part of the Austin Climate Coalition came out to participate in the strike.

“I want to see the government cut back their reliance on fossil fuels, especially in Texas economy, which you would think would be so irreversibly reliant on fossil fuels, but actually has the largest potential to be a renewable energy source…and increase public transportation,” high schooler Sam Hilton said.

Hilton held a sign that he made that read “Respect Your Mother!” which also displayed a drawing of planet earth. Hilton and his classmates said they knew that occupying the Texas Capitol south steps would mean receiving an unexcused absence from school, but they felt like it was worth it because they are hopeful their actions will affect change. 

St. Edward’s students were also found in the crowd of strikers. Students for Sustainability (SFS) hosted a poster-making party before the strike. Some of their signs read “SFS for Climate Justice” and “The Future Belongs to Today’s Youth.”

Kassandra Quintanilla, a member of SFS, attended the march and emphasized the community aspect of climate activism.

“I had a great time with friends and even with strangers as we all joined together to march for the same cause,” Quintanilla said.

St. Edward’s freshman Sebastian Miro was excited to be present at the march.

“The earth is literally burning, and I am in the sustainability freshman seminar, so it was important to me to attend this, because it is something I am super passionate about,” Miro said.

Students from Austin High School who are also members of the Austin Climate Coalition came out to participate in the strike. Environmental organizations from around the city joined them with various tables at the Capitol. Sydnei Fowler stood behind the table for the Save our Springs Alliance. 

“We sue any large developments that are super unethical with what they are trying to do on top of the recharge zone of the aquaphor,” Fowler said of her organization.

Fowler wants to keep Barton Springs clean for the safety of residents who swim there and because the aquifer provides drinking water for San Antonio.

Many of the Climate Strike organizers continued to voice their opinions throughout the event.

Matthew Kim, a student leading the strike said at the press conference, “We are not only citizens of Austin, we are citizens of Texas. We are citizens of the US, but we are also citizens of the world and we are fighting for the future and for the futures of other humans around the world.”