Most parents wouldn’t be thrilled about their 17-year-old skipping school. But Noga Levy-Rapoport isn’t any ordinary teen.
She’s helping lead the UK Student Climate Network, a growing youth protest movement against climate change – and she says her parents couldn’t be more supportive.
Levy-Rapoport, who is currently studying for her A-Levels at the Arts Educational School in Hammersmith, was among thousands of students to gather in Westminster as part of global action against climate change in February and March.
Since joining the movement in February initially as a protester, then as a core organiser, Levy-Rapoport has received media and legal training on activism.
“I am also lucky enough to have the full support of my parents and my school who will make sure I catch up and I am also aware that I have a responsibility to do that,” Levy-Rapoport says.
“It does get quite stressful,” Levy-Rapoport adds, “But I know that it will be worth it.”
Warning last month in an op-ed in the Guardian that the effects of climate change are “irreversible,” she has called on the government to tackle air pollution and switch to renewable energy to make the economy more sustainable.
Her involvement in the strikes has drawn media attention, with the teen telling LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “I can’t prioritise my education above survival”.
The walkouts, which have taken place across the UK in Bristol, Edinburgh, Exeter and Leicester, are inspired by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who was recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
“I heard about Greta Thunberg and thought it was brilliant and that it had never been done before,” Levy-Rapoport says.
In addition to Thunberg, Levy-Rapoport also counts US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas among her influences.
Levy-Rapoport says she “100 percent” supports Ocasio-Cortez, describing the US parliamentarian as “one of the most powerful and important figures of our time”.
In terms of climate change policy, Levy-Rapoport says she would like to see a Green New Deal implemented in the UK.
The proposal, spearheaded by Ocasio-Cortez, plans to achieve 100 percent renewable energy within 10 years, while increasing jobs and lessening inequality through a job guarantee program.
For now, however, there is still a long way to go, and the Jewish community, she says, has a lot to offer the growing movement.
Levy-Rapoport said: “The Jewish community in London is, from my own experience, a very tight knit one, and a hugely supportive community.
“This is undoubtedly an incredible advantage in helping to tackle the climate crisis as a community.
“We can support each other in amending our lifestyles together and going on strike together.”
But the 17-year old, who aspires to become an opera singer, has a lot to look forward to beyond her activism.
“When I was 11,” she says, “I discovered I really loved performing classical and choral music, and combining that with my passion for theatre I realised opera is my greatest dream.”