Center for Political Awareness

As Climate Crisis Grows, Youth Environmental Movements Are Radicalizing

Failed by their governments and faced with an unlivable future, young people are fighting for their lives.

Participants hold placards as they march on a street ahead of Earth Day on April 22, the annual environmental awareness day, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 21, 2024. YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES) INDONESIA-ENVIRONMENT-CLIMATE-EARTH DAY


Carrying a rifle, a young Indigenous man searches the Amazon forest for illegal loggers, followed by a crew from the 2023 documentary film We Are Guardians. Five thousand miles away, youth from Just Stop Oil throw soup on the painting “Sunflowers” by Vincent Van Gogh at the National Gallery in London in 2022. They yell as reporters film them, “What is more important? Art or life?” Three hundred miles away, in 2024, activist Greta Thunberg twists in the arms of the police as she and others are arrested for blocking a road to The Hague to protest the Dutch government’s tax giveaways to oil companies.

The climate crisis is radicalizing youth. Tech savvy and globally connected, Gen Z and Millennial activists are becoming increasingly militant as runaway fossil fuel development destroys their future. They attained early victories. They have put ecocide, the utter razing of nature, at the forefront of politics. They drew global attention with protests. They sued governments and won. The wins fly in the face of an older generation of corrupt politicians, paid off by the oil industry.

Yet the danger of environmental breakdown threatens to overwhelm their initial victories. Climate refugees pour across borders. A global network of fascism is trying to dismantle democracy and snuff out civil society.

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