Progressively Speaking: Young people are leading the fight on climate change
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Progressively Speaking: Young people are leading the fight on climate change

 Isla Casson takes a topical issue and offers a progressive response

XR Jewish activists
XR Jewish activists

Nearly two years ago, along with thousands of other young people across the country, I left my places of education to join the national youth strikes for climate justice. 

Since then young people have continued the fight and, most recently, organised Mock COP26 – a virtual event in place of the global climate summit COP26, which was delayed owing to the pandemic. 

It was attended by more than 330 delegates from 140 countries and featured a focus on the Global South (countries that are industrialised or in the process of industrialising), as well as a host of well-known activists and keynote speakers.

Young people have taken this lead because we know it’s the world we will have to live in.

We are beginning to see the devastating impact climate change is having in the Global South and how indifferent our governments are, having been blinded by fossil fuel lobbyists.

Our motivation is founded on climate justice, the founding principle of many environmental movements of the past decade. 

First coined as a phrase in 2000, it is the idea the climate crisis cannot purely be understood in scientific terms, but must be looked at within a larger framework of social justice and global inequalities.

Climate justice is almost perfectly mirrored in the Progressive Jewish reading of tikkun olam – repairing the world – to bring it closer to the harmonious state that God intends for it.

What young people want is to prevent the worst of the climate crisis through social justice. 

Tikkun olam shows us that the fight for a better world must include everyone and that we must all do our part.

When we first took to the streets, we did it on the understanding that our privilege as young people in a ‘first world’ country meant we had to protest for all who could not.

This quote from the Talmud sums it all up beautifully: “Anyone who is able to protest against the transgressions of the entire world – and does not – is punished for the transgressions of the entire world.”

  •  Isla Casson is a member of Kehillah North London

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