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Published on February 28, 2020

Hartford Courant: Students to lead strike for climate action on Friday at Capitol with ECSU polisci student Mitchel Kvedar

Inspired by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, college students Sena Wazer and Mitchel Kvedar of Sunrise Movement CT will lead a climate action protest at the state Capitol Friday.

More than 1,000 people are expected to attend, demanding that Gov. Ned Lamont declare a climate emergency and establish a Green New Deal for the state.

Wazer, a 15-year-old UConn freshman, shared on Thursday that her main goal is to inspire immediate and drastic action from the governor and legislators.

“Climate scientists say we have 11 years to take radical action or face unending disasters,” the two students said in a written statement. “While we appreciate our state’s best efforts, they are not enough.”

The Connecticut Climate Strike is part of a global movement. Millions of people in more than 150 countries are expected to call on politicians to take climate action Friday. Thunberg, 16, who is leading the Global Climate Strike, recently echoed to Congress the frustration young people feel toward apathetic government leaders.

“Please save your praise, we don’t want it," she told Congress Tuesday. “Don’t invite us here to tell us how inspiring we are without doing anything about it. I know you’re trying, but just not hard enough. Sorry.”

Wazer began advocating for the environment in elementary school. She joined Sunrise Movement in December. The youth organization made headlines in November for occupying Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office to advocate for the Green New Deal with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

“Is 100% clean and renewable energy too much?" Ocasio-Cortez asked at a Sunrise Movement rally in May. “Is fighting for dignified jobs that pay enough people to live too much? Is proposing a solution on the scale of the climate crisis too much?”

While students around the world have participated in school strikes led by Thunberg, Wazer and Kvedar said this strike will be different.

“Youth have called on adults to join in,” they said. “At this event, strikers will show that people from all walks of life care about climate change and expect our elected leaders to take immediate action. ... Connecticut has the opportunity to lead. Let’s take it.”

Wazer and Kvedar, a 19-year-old sophomore at Eastern Connecticut State University, are acting with the CT Climate Crisis Mobilization. The coalition includes more than 80 groups, such as the CT Citizens Action Group, the People’s Action for Clean Energy and several of Connecticut’s Unitarian societies. The protest also has support from labor unions, including 32BJ SEIU.

The protest will take place from noon to 3 p.m. on the back steps of the Capitol. It marks a weeklong series of pro-environment events around Connecticut, including a solidarity film series, a protest against a planned gas power plant in Killingly and a vigil in East Haddam. 

Written by Amanda Blanco