Climate Strikes Held in Portland, Colby

Last Friday, Sept. 20, an estimated four million students set down their pencils, left their classrooms, and marched in the Global Climate Strike. In the first demonstration of its kind, people on every continent, including scientists in Antarctica, demanded lawmakers take steps to heal the environment and preserve it for future generations. 

The strike’s organizers believe that an immediate transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is necessary; demonstrators echoed this message in force. The student-led protest wishes to rejuvenate climate activism right before the United Nations’ Emergency Summit on climate change.

Many students participated in the Global Climate Strike on campus. The event was coordinated by the College’s Citizen’s Climate Lobby Chapter (CCL), a non-partisan, grassroots environmental advocacy organization. 

In an email to the Echo, Charlie Cobb `20, the treasurer for the College’s CCL Chapter, describes the primary purposeof the organization. “CCL’s main goal is to pass the Energy Innovation and Carbon Fee and Dividend Act, which is a tax on carbon emissions that distributes the revenue from the tax back to the people to help them adjust to potentially rising energy costs.  Studies have shown that such a policy would result in fairly rapid emission reductions,” Cobb said.

Cobb also added that the Act is currently in the U.S. House of Representatives, and that the CCL would like for it to become law. 

On campus, the CCL helps raise climate change awareness and garner support for the Carbon Fee and Dividend Act.

In reference to the Global Climate Strike, Cobb hopes “such a large mobilization will send a clear message to world leaders that we need to act now on climate change and that the world’s youth will not watch idly while their future is jeopardized by the fossil fuel industry and corrupt world leaders.” 

Portland, Maine saw its own climate strike. Ellie Batchelder `22 and Elsa Russell `22 attended the Portland strike. In an interview with the Echo, Batchelder explained that she decided to attend because she thinks that “this issue of climate change is extremely crucial to our entire society . . . we have to be able to stand up and speak for ourselves and really show policymakers how important this issue is.” 

She described the event as energetic and enthusiastic; everyone was wholeheartedly invested in the cause. School groups crowded the steps of Portland city hall with banners and posters.

When asked why she attended the strike, Russell emphasized that climate change is “happening very quickly,” and how “it’s something that is critical for us to address immediately.” In retrospect, the strike “was a really powerful experience,” Russell said. 

Both Batchelder and Russell attended the Portland event instead of the College event because they did not want to take the easy, convenient path to spreading their message. They believe that their presence in Portland helped maximize the strike’s impact, while acknowledging the importance of the CCL strike on campus as an accessible option for those who could not make the trip. 

“There’s something inspiring and powerful taking time out of my day to go into a city and be with a lot of people that I don’t know who are all united for the same cause. There’s a lot of power in gatherings like that,” observed Russell.