Obama praises youth climate activists: ‘The sooner you start, the better
Former President Obama during a visit to Germany on Saturday praised youth activists who have led protests around the world to demand action on climate change, saying that the sooner activism starts the better.
“A lot of those people can’t vote,” Obama said during a meeting in Berlin, according to AFP. “They’re too young to vote. But they know what’s going on.”
“They’re making change,” Obama continued. “And those habits, and that sense of power they’re developing now, that’s going to carry over for the rest of their lives.”
Obama, who was in Germany to promote his foundation, later said “the sooner you start, the better” when discussing their advocacy.
“You wouldn’t let your grandparents decide what music you listen to, or what clothes you wear. Why let them decide what world you will live in,” he said. “Things change when we strongly mobilize. Our planet on which we live is in danger. We can’t succeed by sitting back and waiting for someone else to do it.”
Obama’s remarks came about a month after students from almost 100 countries helped lead demonstrations that called for governments to take more proactive steps to combat climate change.
In several instances, students were able to skip school to attend the protests.
Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teen, helped spark the youth movement to combat climate change. The 16-year-old started refusing to go to school in August as a way to draw attention to climate change, according to The Guardian.
She would reportedly hand out leaflets outside Parliament carrying the message: “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.” Her efforts helped lead to student demonstrations in places such as Belgium and the United Kingdom.
Thunberg said in a tweet before the March 15 protest that the movement would continue for “as long as it takes.”
Obama was an outspoken supporter of policies intended to combat climate change while in the White House. The U.S. signed on to the historic Paris climate accord during his presidency. President Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the agreement in 2017.
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