Omaha Youth Climate Strike
October 3, 2019
On September 20, there was a worldwide movement against climate change. Millions of students led strikes in cities around the world calling on their leaders to take measures to prevent any further damage to the environment and to fix the other effects of climate change. All of this was in advance of the United Nations General Assembly, where the issue is expected to take center stage.
One of these Youth Climate Strikes was held here in Omaha. A local student led organization, Students for Sustainability, organized it. On the morning of the strike, high school and college students from all over the city gathered in front of City Hall at 8 a.m.
The president of Students for Sustainability, Cate Kelly, was responsible for organizing the Omaha strike. She, like many of the organizers, was inspired by the actions of sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, a climate activist from Sweden who was the creator of the Youth Climate Strike and Friday’s for Our Future.
Students for Sustainability’s leadership has student representation from nine high schools and colleges around the city. They were founded last spring, and since then, they have been active in environmental movements around the city. According to Kelly, they have “organized a rally for the planet, testified twice in front of city council, had booths at various community events, and met with other elected officials and organizations.”
The students at this strike and a partnered strike in front of the State Capitol in Lincoln had four demands for lawmakers they were pressuring to take action on the climate crisis: to pass a state climate action plan, stop the KXL Pipeline, transition to regenerative agriculture and harness Nebraska’s renewable energy potential.
In Omaha, there were over three hundred participants in the strike including students and adults. Adam Metzger from the band AJR and Douglas County board member Jim Cavanaugh were among the speakers that addressed the crowd of students.
Dozens of Central High students were present including senior Anya Long who believes that Central students were willing to wake up early on their day off “to express their concern for the current state of our environment because it’s becoming dangerous.” According to Long, this strike, to many students was a “representation of the bond between Central High School and the Omaha community.”
This strike was part of the biggest mobilization against climate change in history and it was led in large part by students. It was done in an effort to push lawmakers in Nebraska to pay attention to the concerns of the hundreds of students who are being impacted by climate change. Kelly hopes that the strike tells lawmakers “the time for waiting to act is over, and we will not stop until they do.”