Parent Participation in Climate Justice Efforts Is on the Rise

He gave a brief speech before NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus, father of two, was chained to a JP Morgan Chase branch in downtown Los Angeles. In it, he explained to the bank why he and 1,200 other scientists around the globe would risk arrest on that fine April day of 2022 to protest Chase. world’s biggest financierClimate-degrading fossil fuels. (Citi, Bank of America are not far behind.

“We [scientists] have been telling you guys for so many decades that we’re headed towards fucking catastrophe,” Kalmus said. The clip went viral, probably in part because when Kalmus told the cameras (and waiting cops) that he was committing nonviolent civil disobedience “for my sons,” he began to weep — and didn’t stop. Their protest, he said brokenly, was for “all of the kids of the world, all of the young people, all of the future people.”

Kalmus is one of the thousands of parents who worldwide have organized around a similar rallying cry. We love our children. We won’t let you wreck their world.

A few decades back, there were very few family-focused environmental groups. Even fewer than the parent-led climate justice groups that confront polluters today. The U.S. Mothers Out FrontIn 2013, a number of states started to organize and two years later, many mothers were involved in various chapters of the climate action organization. launched subgroups centered around familiesProtecting children from harm is a parent’s responsibility.

In 2018, Greta Thunberg’s school strikes took over the world. Although some young people were already leveraging their abilities, moral authority in courtTo demand that adults stop destroying their futures, Fridays For Future school strikes — and Thunberg herself — received spectacular media attention. They ignited the global youth climate movement and inspired its offshoot group. Parents For Future GlobalThere are now hundreds of parent-led grassroots organizations in 23 countries. (You can join next global strike September 23.) Since then, other mom-led groups have sprung up all over the world, including in the U.K., India, Pakistan Canada.

I asked four organizers who are focused on parents how they could help their children to be more climate-just.

Chandra Bocci, Brooklyn-based, is a fellow with the International Parent-Climate Network Our Kids Climate and PThese arents For Future Global, says that parenting toward climate justice is not about “a perfect, zero-waste lifestyle.” Given humanity’s short time frame to slash emissions enough to keep warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, she advocates collective empowerment and action that’s targeted strategically. “Showing children that we have a window where we can do something — and that we are doing something — is so important.”

Bocci and her preschooler had to join parents from the beginning. Climate Families NYC at a 2021 protest in front of the home of Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. BlackRock, with its nearly $260 billionBocci and other parent climate activists had long been focused on the investments in coal, oil, gas projects around the world. They were shocked to learn that Fink was a close friend of several of them and felt compelled by his immense influence to divest BlackRock of climate destruction.

“I think that was only the second time he had talked in person with any activist group,” Bocci said, recalling that Fink came out to meet them. “Because of our position as parents with kids, we have a different approach and a different kind of moral authority from other activists showing up. We keep very positive, but we’re not scared, either.”

Parents who live in conservative communities may face huge challenges on the climate justice front, according to Winona Bateman (executive director of Missoula-based Missoula). Families For a Livable Climate (FLC). In Montana, she says, “we have folks trying to make voting more difficult for our tribal communities and Indigenous nations. Our state is full of racist, dog whistle, and political signals. That’s a challenge because those are triggers for people.”

Bateman isn’t afraid. “The data around how people feel about climate change and the danger it presents to the world is pretty strongly in our favor,” she says. “Even in Montana, over 60 percent of people agree it’s happening and there’s strong support for corporate action and renewable energy as part of our future.”

To engage that 60 percent and “create community for climate action in Montana” (FLC’s stated mission), FLC offers education on creating zero-waste schools, talking to kids about the climate crisis and moving from climate despair to action. Those who are ready to take action can petition utilities for clean energy transition or support the efforts of the FLC. kids taking the state of MontanaThey will be put on trial next year for violating the right to a clean, healthy environment.

But a predominant focus, says Bateman, is helping parents feel comfortable talking about climate justice with people across cultural and political divides: “People need space to shift, and they can’t get there if no one can have a conversation with them about it. If you just yell at them, they’re not going to be able to shift.”

FLC will offer virtual assistance starting September 27th. discussionKatherine Hayhoe talks about her book in 2021 Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World. Hayhoe, a mother of children, is widely praised because she helped climate advocates find common ground among a wide range of people based upon shared values.

A challenge for several parent climate action groups, including Bateman’s in Montana, is that they’re sometimes made up of all or mostly white, middle-class women. Bateman doesn’t shy from this fact, or the daily work required to create a just and equitable future for everyone.

“We try to make sure we’re bringing lots of different perspectives and voices into the work we’re doing and to how we’re understanding things.” To deepen her own understanding, Bateman, a descendant of settlers in North Dakota, took a “deep dive” into her own family tree. “My family settled along the Knife River of North Dakota; the lands of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (Three Affiliated Tribes).”

“The challenge for white people in the movement,” she said, “is to step up and engage folks who are not thinking about how climate is disproportionately impacting people of color and people of low income.”

Lorna Pelly, based in British Columbia, tries to raise kids who understand the world isn’t fair and contribute toward correcting injustices. Her work with For Our KidsFOK, a network that includes over 20 parent-led chapters throughout Canada, began by acknowledging the fact that the climate crisis affects people in different ways. “It will always be the lower-income people or countries that are affected the most and have a harder time rebuilding after climate disasters,” Pelly said. “I’ve never been able to sit well with that, knowing that it’s the more developed countries causing [more of] the carbon emissions.”

FOK trains parents in “Curious Climate Conversations” and supports Wet’suwet’enLand Defenders, Indigenous communities who are fighting Coastal Link Gas. Many parents have been shocked, says Pelly, to learn about the racism of Canada’s police force, and FOK now offers workshops on raising anti-racist children. You can join this September 17 workshop.)

Organizers agree that the task of building movement is more urgent than ever for the Global South’s growing number parent groups.

“Parenting toward climate justice means something very different to us here in the Global South than it does to you in the North,” says Amuche Nnabueze, a Nigerian organizer with Parents For Future Global. “We are already suffering the effects of climate change in every aspect of our lives. There is so much poverty. We don’t even have clean water. There are floods and droughts. Rivers are drying up.”

During our interview, Nnabueze found herself in darkness after the power went out twice. Nigeria is well-known because of its deep political corruption. It makes it difficult for Nigerians to even discuss human right or travel to events in other cities without fear of kidnapping. Nnabueze says that many people are hungry and don’t have health insurance. All of these factors can lead to indifference. Nnabueze reaches out to her parents through her academic and religious circles, as well as her church, to encourage them to join the ASP. upcoming global climate strikeSeptember 23, 2003

“Poverty drives this indifference,” Nnabueze says, so she works to connect where she can, spearheading advocacy campaigns and encouraging others to lifestyle changes such as reducing plastic consumption.

“Parents really connect to lifestyle changes, so we talk about things they can do.” Climate advocacy in Nigeria can’t be only about climate strikes because, she says with a laugh, “we are not really sure what the government will do.”

Nnaueze’s three children join the parent-led events and her daughter, 17, organizes Green Teens Africa, which focuses on sustainable lifestyle skills. “We parents are supporting them through sharing our ancestral and Indigenous knowledge about growing crops subsistently, waste management, permaculture and more based on our Indigenous circular economy model.”

Nnabueze felt more motivated by the year-long Parent Climate FellowshipShe was able to receive financial support, training, and the opportunity to travel to Glasgow last summer for COP26. She said that it was powerful to join other climate organizers to bring her voice to the international stage.

Nnabueze continues his network with parent climate coordinators worldwide, informing parents in the Global North about their work through regular online meetings. These meetings include Our Kids Climate and Parents For Future Global.

She and other Global South parent organizers are making an impact on groups across the Global North, including those mentioned above. They educate their members, learn and then help in their own communities.

Bocci strives to follow the example of environmental justice-centered organizations in her work with parents in New York City. “We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re really paying attention and reaching out and collaborating and partnering and following calls to action from BIPOC and working-class [groups] in our state,” she said.

New York RenewsA statewide coalition made up of over 300 grassroots organizations, the focuses on environmental justice and has developed an explicit legislative agenda. “A lot of what we do is follow their lead and just jump on their campaigns and amplify them. Then, we show our support. We ask, ‘How can we help?’”