About 130 Penn students and professors protested at City Hall this Friday to raise awareness about climate change in Philadelphia, joining demonstrators in 150 countries around the world.
The Penn group joined the Philly Climate Strike, an event organized by the Youth Climate Lobby and other groups to demand that Philadelphia implement a citywide Green New Deal. This would include a complete transition to renewable energy by 2030, an end to new fossil fuel projects, and "a just transition to a renewable economy."
The Philadelphia event is one of many strikes taking place across the United States and the world ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23.
Before the event, Fossil Free Penn organized a "Penn Climate Strike Meet-Up" where students and faculty gathered with posters and walked to City Hall as a group. Fossil Free Penn is a student group which aims to get the University to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
“I think it’s really important for one to be aware that Penn is being complacent, or how Penn is failing to take the action necessary to address the climate crisis," said College sophomore Katie Collier, the campaign coordinator for Fossil Free Penn.
Collier added that divesting from the fossil fuel industry is "one of the most impactful things" the University can do, as "Penn’s role in the climate crisis is much more affected by its investment than its behaviors as a consumer.”
Many groups participated in the Philly Climate Strike, including Fossil Free Penn, Youth Climate Movement, PA Youth Climate Strike, Sunrise Movement, and 350 Philadelphia. College sophomore Vyshnavi Kosigishroff, the founder and executive director of the Youth Climate Lobby, was one of the organizers for the event.
“Organizing it was a lot of late night calls as well as a lot of emails," Kosigishroff said. "But every time it got hard I would remember why we’re here, what we’re fighting for, and why it’s really important that people are here for it."
Kosigishroff said the event is meant to be the first in a series of campaigns to fight climate change in an "efficient but equitable way" by including voices from historically marginalized communities and demanding "aggressive action" from elected officials.
Students said they came to the Philly Climate Strike to raise awareness about the imminence of climate change.
“It’s very important to get the message across to politicians, and corporations and everyone that the people [are] uniting on this issue, because this is actually our future," College freshman Julie Flandreau said. "This is not just something that is going to happen in a while, this is the future of our children and our own."
College junior Elliot Bones stressed Penn's role in producing fossil fuel emissions in Philadelphia.
"We’re part of the West Philadelphia community, we’re part of the Philadelphia community, we’re part of the Pennsylvania community, just so on up to the global community," Bones said. "Being here [at Penn] is causing a lot of emissions from us, so we kind of owe it to the rest of the world to be active and to get out into the world and make a change.”
Kosigishroff added that Penn has "done a lot of damage" to Philadelphia and that students should feel a responsibility to work to counteract this.
“Philadelphia is my home now, at least for the next four years, probably longer," she said. "I care about the city so much that I feel it is my responsibility now. Students at Penn have a very unique responsibility to fight for change."